First of 2 parts
“THE Greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince the world that he doesn’t exist.” That’s an often quoted aphorism from the French dark poet Baudelaire. That adage refers not just to the Christian Satan, though, but to the reality of evil in the world, often to organized crime.
It is exactly the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) — and its founder Jose Maria Sison’s — greatest trick. Its cadres are on an all-out, furious campaign to stop the government’s ongoing efforts to expose their front organizations as tools of the armed insurgency because for the first time ever, this trickery, which has been communists’ most effective shield, is being laid bare for the public to see.
The subterfuge has been so effective that, so to speak, it has been rare for a CPP official to have been arrested or killed, and then only its very top leaders.
Only for us, the newspaper-reading strata of Filipinos, does a Communist Party exist. In the countryside, the masses have known only the New People’s Army (NPA), with hardly an inkling that there is a Communist Party that commands it. The masses knew at the peak of their power in the 1990s only the Kilusang Mayo Uno and the Alex Boncayao Brigade; Bayan Muna and the party’s over a hundred front organizations for nearly all conceivable sectors, except strangely for the LGBTQ sector.
Satur Ocampo, who was (or is, I don’t know) a ranking party official, in his kilometric columns in the Philippine Star never mentions the CPP and its stand on many issues, only those of Bayan, the partly-list he headed, but controlled by the Party or by “progressive forces.”
When longtime Sison sidekick Fidel Agcaoili died recently, he was extolled in the front organizations’ publications as the National Democratic Front’s chief negotiator, even romanticized as an “internationalist revolutionary,” never for what he had been since the party’s founding in 1968: a member of its highest body, the executive committee of the central committee, and for many years in charge of its finances.
When Randall Echanis was killed in August in his apartment under very mysterious circumstances, CNN Philippines and Rappler.com identified him as a “peasant leader and agrarian reform advocate.” Anybody who’s been or is in the revolution knows he was a CPP central committee member, who had been in charge of its “Peasant Bureau“ for two decades.
The so-called “National Democratic Front (NDF)” has been simply the party’s mask mainly for its international audience, set up in the 1980s, when the possibility first emerged that the Marcos regime could fall.
As former ranking Communist Party official Nathan Quimpo narrated in his book, the NDF had only “two real organizations, the CPP and the NPA [which the CPP commanded],” with its other member organizations such as Kabataang Makabayan and Makibaka being directed by CPP cadres, if they existed that is, as several of them merely had a small staff to issue press statements.
It has certainly mattered for instance that media reports here and abroad narrate such developments as that “government in negotiations with NDF in Norway,” instead of “government in negotiations with Communist Party leaders.”
In the Party’s deception, there were no communist cadres killed or arrested during martial law: they were freedom fighters opposing the Marcos dictatorship. After martial law, they were “natdem” activists, peasant leaders, labor or urban poor leaders, human rights advocates, women’s rights advocates, party-list representatives, or my favorite of sorts, “peace talks consultants,” as the former party chairman Benito Tiamzon claimed he was when he was arrested.
It was the party’s founder Jose Ma. Sison who was the master par excellence of such trickery: he fooled a US court and Congress that passed the Human Rights Victims Compensation Act of 2013 that he wasn’t a communist, much less the founder of the CPP, but merely opposed Marcos, so that he should be compensated for his incarceration.
It was Sison who was the architect of the human-rights abuses case against Marcos in the US, which eventually was tried in a Hawaii civil court, for which he and his wife got P2.5 million in compensation, one of the more than 11,000 alleged human-rights victims or their heirs who were given similar or lower amounts.
While many of these were indeed victims of soldiers abusing their newfound powers under martial law, more than 70 percent of these victims, my preliminary findings show, were actually either NPAs and communist cadres killed in battle with government or arrested during martial law.
Sison’s filing of the case was a display of his demonic genius. Who would have thought that the Communist Party founder who personally ordered the killing of so many of his own comrades on grounds, or suspicion, that they betrayed the organization, who directed the Plaza Miranda bombing, who helped organize the New People’s Army that killed over 50,000 soldiers and policemen, who oversaw an insurgency that worsened poverty in areas it operated, would claim in court that he was a victim of Marcos human rights abuses, that he was entitled to P2.5 million to compensate him for his suffering?
Indeed, many communist party members, including Satur Ocampo, were aghast at Sison’s move, and declared that they jointed the struggle against Marcos for the country’s sake and not for any monetary compensation.
Sison was one of the four original complainants in that human rights violations case. Sison even moved to get more money from the case by having as another complainant the heirs of his older brother, Francisco. His brother was a personal assistant of top Marcos technocrat Placido Mapa, the head of the Presidential Economic Staff. Francisco was killed in 1971 not by Marcos’ minions but by the old Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas he had just broken away from and which ordered him liquidated. The complaint, made under Sison’s directions, claimed that he was killed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ counterintelligence unit.
As their “Exhibit A,” Sison was described by the prosecutors in the trial practically as the Philippine equivalent of South African leader Nelson Mandela: “Sison, a leading opponent of the Marcos regime, was arrested in 1977 and interrogated personally by Marcos. He was then interrogated by members of the military, who blindfolded and severely beat him while he was handcuffed and fettered; they also threatened him with death. When this round of interrogation ended, he was denied sleep and repeatedly threatened with death.”
Never was it mentioned in the trial that he was arrested because he led the Communist Party’s armed struggle initially to overthrow a democratic government and later Marcos’ one-man rule.
What the Red party-representatives are now protesting against, the government’s “red-tagging,” Sison and his comrades already did in the trial 30 years ago. Supporting the prosecutors’ demands, the notorious judge who heard the case, Manuel Real, prohibited the defense lawyers from alleging that the victims were communist cadres, or guerrillas engaged in an armed struggle to topple the civilian government and set up its own dictatorship. The judge even banned any mention of the word “communist” in the trial.
The Communist Party has been taking Filipinos for fools. Party-list representatives pretend to be outraged that they are being “red-tagged” when everyone knows these people — Carlos Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite, France Castro, Arlene Brosas and Sarah Elago — are such obscure personalities they cannot win even a barangay election. The only reason their party-lists got enough votes to put them in Congress is because the entire network of the party, especially in the countryside where they still operate, are ordered — threatened in many cases — every election to vote for these party-lists.
These Red party-lists don’t even have an organizational structure or officials. It is the Communist Party that tells these parties who their representatives will be in Congress.
I know that for a fact. When I asked for a meeting with these party-list representatives in early 2004 to try to secure their support for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo election, I and my late deputy, Renato Velasco, went to the assigned meeting venue, a steakhouse in Quezon City.
We were surprised that it was Rafael Baylosis, whom Quimpo’s book mentioned above said was one of the two top leaders of the party’s highest body, the executive committee of the central committee, who met with us. A comrade from our University of the Philippines days, it was Baylosis we negotiated with us for the party-lists’ support for Arroyo (which we didn’t get).
In a separate table were Teodoro Casiño and two other party-list representatives; they said absolutely nothing at the meeting, they were focused only on the T-bone steaks they ordered. They were there to convince us that it was the party through Baylosis who called the shots.
Sison and his communist conspirators have been taking Filipinos for fools for five decades now. President Duterte has at long last decided to stop this blight on the land.
A witty writer Ken Ammi followed up Baudelaire’s devil’s-greatest-trick adage: “The second greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he is the good guy.” That’s exactly what the Communist Party has been convincing our gullible youth of, even the UP and Ateneo community.
(To be continued on Wednesday)