I AM referring to Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, the chief of the Southern Luzon Command. He is also the spokesman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac), created by President Duterte in 2018 under Executive Order No 70. Going by its performance these past two years, this body could be in our history as the spear of the nation that finally took down, after 50 years, the scourge that is the communist insurgency.
Badoy is Undersecretary Lorraine Marie T. Badoy of the Presidential Communications Operations Office assigned to the task force.
Both have been bold in calling a spade a spade, tearing down the many masks Communist Party insurgents have been using for decades to fool the idealistic youth, shanghaiing them to join a movement which — as proven in the case of dozens of my former comrades — only lead to pathetic wasted lives, death in some forgotten jungle or expiration in a charity hospital ward from some disease that afflicts the elderly or the malnourished.
Such useless suffering while their leader Jose Ma. Sison has been living for 34 years now in bourgeois comfort and even luxury in the Netherlands, even dreaming of being the leader of an international communist movement, and writing eulogies for his comrades, that atheist weirdly hinting that they will be in some proletarian heaven.
I spent a good part of my youth as a cadre of the Communist Party of the Philippines, heading in the early years its Manila-Rizal organization in Manila-Rizal then, its most advanced formation at that time. As a reporter, and would-be (but failed) academic, I have closely observed and studied the growth and demise of the communist movement.
Never, I mean not even during martial law, were there Parlades and Badoys engaging the communists in what has turned out to be the most important aspect of the war against the insurgency: the ideological and propaganda battlefield.
Of course there were several nemeses of the communist movement, but they were all in the military aspect of the anti-insurgent war. They never spoke in public, their photos never in the media that you wouldn’t have heard of them, among them: Maj. Miguel Aure of the 5th Constabulary Security Unit (which captured me and later Jose Ma. Sison, renegade Philippine Constabulary lieutenant Victor Corpus and the New People’s Army head Kumander Dante); the legendary Col. Boogie Mendoza, also of the 5th CSU; and Maj. Arcega of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
There were Parlades and Badoys at that period courageously speaking and unmasking the communists in our midst, their organizations, and undertaking counter-propaganda against them, pointing out — as the two have been doing now — that the youth fooled by their front organizations joining the NPA have only ended up as corpses in battles with the obviously more well-trained and better armed Army.
The National Intelligence Coordinating Agency is, I would think, the organization with the most expertise on the communist insurgency and with the capacity to track down and hunt their cadres. Have you ever heard of any NICA official in any administration speak against the communists? For that matter, have you ever heard of a Philippine National Police regional or provincial director in an area so infested with the NPA publicly speak against the Reds? Before Parlade, was there any Army official so vocal — and articulate — in condemning the insurgency?
There is one important reason that the likes of Parlade and Badoy are so rare. Military men retire at 56, and most — despite the common notion — aren’t rich that they could retire, and they therefore have to eke out a living.
At least in the 1980s, the communists had a deadly assassination squad, the Alex Boncayao Brigade, which proved their expertise when they assassinated intelligence officer Rolando Abadilla in 1996, even if he was already retired at the time.
Why would a military man prefer having to always look behind his shoulder, and spend money on bodyguards which he may have to do if he became known for condemning the communists?
Even the media has been either so scared of, enamored by, or sympathetic to the insurgency that I haven’t read an investigative piece or watched a TV documentary exposing the NPA’s atrocities and its record of killing our soldiers and police.
By his press remarks practically asking Parlade to stand down, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is demonstrating this kind of faint-hearted don’t-bash-the-communists attitude– that has allowed the communists’ network of fronts to flourish — is still very much alive in the defense establishment.
Parlade, sworn to defend the Republic as a military officer, and Badoy, also sworn to do her duty as a civil servant assigned to the task force, wouldn’t be doing their jobs if they didn’t point out that Filipinos, especially the youth, should be aware, and very wary, of Gabriela and nearly a hundred organizations that the CPP founder Sison himself unwittingly had identified as the fronts of or controlled by the party when he listed these as members of his International League of People’s Struggles, his failed attempt to found an international communist movement. (See my column “Sison, with his huge ego, red-tagged his communist fronts long ago,” The Manila Times, Sept. 14, 2020.)
These are communist fronts that exploit the youth’s idealism or the plight of aggrieved sectors to advance their propaganda agenda of demonizing the government as an oppressive one. The party’s other aim is to gradually convince these recruits to join the Communist Party and the NPA. The track record of the communist front Kilusang Mayo Uno is very instructive: Pretending to be trade unionists, party cadres encouraged workers to undertake strikes for higher pay, and to refuse any agreement with the capitalists. The results have been violent clashes in the picket line or workers thrown out of their jobs — and therefore easy recruits to the NPA. Alex Boncayao for instance was a labor leader at the infamous La Tondeña strike.
The claim that that silly actress and beauty queen were simply “exercising their constitutional right to free expression” that Parlade shouldn’t have questioned them is so 1950s hogwash. Parlade wouldn’t have cared if the two blabbered that communism is the best system for us, and that the NPA are freedom fighters.
But these two were praising Gabriela, the CPP’s most successful front organization, and it was Parlade’s duty and task to unmask this organization. I’ve seen this before. The party’s first women’s organization, the Makibaka, had a boost in their ranks when Gemma Cruz Araneta told the media that she was proud to be a member of it. Nearly everyone in the underground probably wanted to be assigned to the same unit that the late Maita Gomez and Nelia Sancho were.
The party knew the power of “celebrity-endorsement” even before professional admen did. There was a huge crowd of poor rural folk that assembled (which made us worry over security) when we brought the folk singer Sampaguita to an old Huk base in Nueva Ecija. We petty bourgeois in the city do not realize that the poor rural folk see a movie star as a goddess, her words the word of a deity.
The most insane argument over this issue of Parlade’s “red-tagging” of these organizations is of the same genre that Jews were “tagged” as an inferior race by the Nazis, or minority tribes as automatically pariahs by the majority, ruling tribes in an African nation.
The military concludes that certain organizations were set up or linked to the Communist Party, not people of a certain ethnicity. And they have identified these organizations as such not just by mere analysis, but by the testimony of defecting party members who were members or even leaders of these.
If these organizations aren’t so, they could deny outright that they have links to the Communist Party, and that they condemn its armed insurgency and its atrocities — as Badoy asked the communist minor minion Teddy Casiño to do, which of course he didn’t.
Creating front organizations has been Sison’s most successful tactic in advancing his bloody cause. He stumbled on this tack when the old Soviet-influenced Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas, which he initially belonged to, set up organizations it obviously controlled such as the Socialist Party of the Philippines, which didn’t go far. While in Indonesia in the 1960s getting revolutionary tips from the Partai Komunis Indonesia, Sison saw the folly — the huge tragedy — of an open or aboveground communist party, which was so easily identified and massacred by the hundreds of thousands by the Suharto regime.
Instead of openly communist cells, Sison instead ordered his cadres to organize what he called “mass organizations” in which there is a secret “party group” or “party branch” controlling them. There are nearly a hundred of these “mass organizations”, one each for nearly all sectors of Philippine society, as shown in the list of members of Sison’s International League of People’s Struggles accompanying this column. These are also fund-raising vehicles for Sison, both through the $150 membership fees he collects from each, or through funds meant to finance these organizations but are siphoned off to him.
Indeed, Sison even managed to convince President Cory Aquino to order her minions to adopt a provision in the 1987 Constitution — the party-list system — that eventually allowed him to install in the current Congress seven of his cadres, who get hundreds of millions of pesos from us taxpayers, a portion of which is used by the NPA to destroy our democratic system.
Would I as an idealistic youth wanting to change the country have joined the Kabataang Makabayan, which was Sison’s main attempt to organize the youth, if he had instead named it “Communist Youth League”?
The communist movement is no longer mainly a military one, as the NPA has lost its 1980s strength. This is due to the fact that its sources of funds — money from loggers in the 1970s, miners and robberies in the 1980s and 1990s, and cellphone companies in the 2000s has dried up or is fast drying up. Its working-class and peasant base has also all but been dismantled.
It has become mainly a propaganda party, with its numerous fronts providing for the employment of its aging cadres, no longer fit nor willing to be in the armed struggle, but mainly – as Parlade and Badoy have been exposing — NPA recruitment centers for the youth who, tragically with very little military training, are killed in firefights with the Army in just months and years, the party’s offering to the altar of proletarian revolution.
Parlade and Badoy are in the forefront of our dream to finally end after 50 years this insane insurgency, and we need more like them. I salute their patriotism. The nation should too.