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Communist Party’s greatest trick: Shocking examples

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I WROTE last Monday that, borrowing from the French poet Baudelaire’s aphorism referring to the devil, the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) greatest trick is to convince the world that it doesn’t exist.

By this I mean more precisely that it has succeeded exceedingly well in concealing its conspiracy, and have its cadres, or personalities supporting it, camouflaged as patriots, freedom fighters, human rights crusaders, and so on.

Here are examples.

For academics who have done intensive research on the communist insurgency, it is beyond doubt that the Yellow Cult’s martyr, the assassinated Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. played, next to the first chairman Jose Ma. Sison, the biggest role in the founding of the CPP, and especially the growth of its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA). Aquino’s motivation was that it was one way for him to both politically weaken his arch enemy Ferdinand Marcos and have an armed group he could command or at least give him succor.

Comrades: Aquino with NPA leaders Dante and Corpus in 1975 (top); his wife, Cory, releasing the top CPP leader in 1986 (below).

One of these studies, a 2017 University of California Berkeley PhD dissertation by Joseph Scalice narrated:

“Aquino and [his mentor Tarlac] Congressman Jose Yap played a crucial role in connecting Sison with his guerrilla army under [NPA chieftain “Kumander”] Dante. Aquino allowed Dante to move freely throughout his Hacienda Luisita. Yap, on returning from a visit to China, had given Dante a copy of Mao’s Red Book. Dante provided Aquino with an armed base of popular opposition to Marcos.

Connecting Dante with Sison presented Aquino the possibility of expanding his base of armed support to a national scale. In October 1968, Aquino and Sison met and discussed “how big a problem” Marcos was, and Yap, Aquino and Rodolfo Salas [the second party chairman, after Sison was captured] arranged a meeting between Sison and Dante. The meeting took place in late January 1969 in Dante’s hometown of Talimundoc, Capas. Aquino later reported to his friends that he personally drove Sison to this meeting.”

Kumander Pusa
Aquino was especially close to fellow Tarlaqueño Benjamin Sanguyo, or Kumander Pusa, who had gained notoriety as the Huks’ and then the NPA’s most deadly assassin in the late 1960s. Pusa was killed by the NPA itself in 1977 after he surrendered in 1973 and became a state witness against Aquino in his treason trial. It was Pusa who had helped then Army Lt. Victor Corpus raid the Philippine Military Academy armory in 1970. There were also reports that it was Pusa who warned Aquino to stay away from Plaza Miranda hours before it was bombed by special party operatives on Aug. 21, 1971.

The Yellow Cult — which ruled the country through three presidents — has of course upheld Ninoy’s spirit of collaboration with the CPP. Corazon Aquino freed Sison and Dante from prison while all anti-CPP initiatives were stopped during the rule of her son, Benigno 3rd’s administration. Have you heard any Yellow leader, or even their allies like Risa Hontiveros and Antonio Trillanes, ever condemn the CPP and the NPA?

Thanks to one of the communist cadres’ vanity-project books — accounts of their life in the party and the NPA — we have an eyewitness account of how close Pusa and another early NPA commander, Ben Tuason, was to Aquino.

Lualhati Abreu, an early party cadre and first head of its women’s bureau, and who was in the leading bodies of the NPA in Mindanao in the 1980s, wrote in her 2018 autobiography Dusking, Dawning — amazingly (for a particular reason I’ll disclose soon) published by the University of the Philippines Press:

“Ben let me tag along with him to a house of a young popular politician, a senator. Reaching the compound, we got through the back. He talked first to one of the maids before we entered. Pusa told a story once. ‘Noxi’ offered him Marlboro. He refused. Now he’s smoking Bowling Green. ‘Noxi’ is the alias of a senator among the NPAs dealing with him.” (‘Noxi’ was originally ‘No-Aqui,’ in keeping with the Filipino penchant of rearranging the syllables of a name. – RDT.)

Abreu explains that the cigarette brands were their monickers for attractive starlets. In a footnote, she wrote: “The senator referred to is Benigno S. Aquino.”

What kind of country do we have? The CPP and the NPA, responsible for the killing of over 50,000 of our soldiers and policemen, and probably that same number of civilians, was a tool of an ambitious young politician, revered by a sector of Filipinos, for whom we even have a national holiday to honor, and after whom our international airport is named?

Why would the University of the Philippines Press publish a badly written autobiography of an ex-communist cadre who as an NPA member, probably participated in raids that killed the Republic’s soldiers?

It was academic Bienvenido Lumbera who sponsored it, who even glorified the communist insurgency when he wrote that it is the “biography of a woman who steadfastly lived her revolutionary resolve.”

Lumbera is another example of how the Communist Party has successfully concealed its cadres, in this case one who has helped very significantly in making the UP and even the Ateneo de Manila University a cultural base of sorts for the party.

It is another book by an ex-cadre, this time a 2019 biography of the late Rolando Peña, titled Crossings: Portrait of a Revolutionary which disclosed Lumbera’s membership in the party.

Peña wrote: In 1971, “I was the deputy head of the [Communist Party’s] cultural bureau whose other members included… Bien Lumbera.” (I have redacted the names of other members. – RT) Peña, who was one of the country’s top mining geologists, was the amateurish navigator of the two vessels that at different times in the 1970s, tried smuggling, unsuccessfully, Chinese-manufactured M-14 rifles to the NPA.

Peña also relates that in a “Propaganda Conference” that the party organized in February 1992, presided over by its secretary general Jose Luneta, Lumbera participated actively as a member of its Cultural Bureau. Lumbera was captured in 1974 (and released that same year) together with other members of the party’s cultural and translation bureau.

Can you imagine that! Lumbera is well known to — why! even respected by — the country’s literati and awarded in 2006 as a National Artist for Literature, although there are critics who question why he was given such an award when his body of work has been mainly anthologies of works by other Filipino writers.

As a National Artist, Lumbera was awarded — out of taxpayers’ money — P200,000, given a P50,000 monthly pension, P750,000 medical and hospital benefits and a fund to publish a book annually. Imagine that, a member of a movement dedicated to overthrowing our government getting substantial funds from that government.

It is also ironic that Lumbera was a Ramon Magsaysay Foundation awardee for 1993, yes, given by that foundation initially set up by the US Central Intelligence Agency to combat communism in Asia, and named after the Philippine president who wiped out the communist insurgency in the 1950s. The judges apparently had to stretch their criteria and awarded him mainly for “journalism,” even as he was never a media man, with his involvement in the press solely as editor of the stridently anti-Marcos UP publication, the Diliman Review.

But perhaps Lumbera was a communist only in his youth? I don’t think so. He was (or is) an officer and founding member of Red fronts Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Alliance of Concerned Citizens and Kodao Productions — which are all officially member organizations of the International League of Peoples’ Struggles that Sison organized, and inadvertently exposed as CPP front organizations.

Lumbera certainly had his literary accomplishments, but probably his really big accomplishment, together with a handful of literati and a number of UP and Ateneo academics, has been the creation of a pro-Communist Party culture in those two universities — the insurgency of which has led to thousands of tragic tales of gullible youths joining the NPA to be killed in some forgotten jungle.

There are others to blame though for these tragedies.

How could UP not have a pro-communist culture when Francisco Nemenzo, Jr. was its president for six years, UP Visayas chancellor for four years, College of Arts and Sciences Dean for six years. Nemenzo was Sison’s comrade in the old Partido Komunista’s “Youth Bureau,” and was with its central committee. While he did not join Sison’s party, he has remained a Marxist, and has never said a word, writing nothing against the CPP.

I have never known a case here and abroad of a major university — the transmitter of a nation’s culture and body of knowledge from one generation to the next — headed by a Marxist. His son Fidel — named after Fidel Castro of course — is now UP Diliman Chancellor. He was nearly killed by a police bullet that pierced his liver in a communist-led demonstration in 1983.

Here’s another example of the CPP’s expertise in concealing its operatives, which I myself had not known until I read about it in another former CPP cadre’s book, this time by Norman Quimpo, a top CPP leader in Mindanao in the 1980s:

“I consulted [for the holding of the NDF’s first press conference] with the party’s media committee and with “Gabby,” who was not in the committee but in the media network. I had met Gabby two years before through some united front kasama. Gabby was not a typical kasama. Middle-aged and upper-class, she had been a freelance journalist before starting her own public relations firm. She serviced top Makati firms and did media work for the revolutionary movement.

We first met at her cozy apartment in Ermita. Someone must have told her my true identity… I often dropped by her office in Makati when I was in the area. One minute she would be briefing an executive from an office several floors above hers about the latest political developments. The next minute, she would be talking with a foreign news correspondent over the phone and, in coded language, arrange a visit for him to an NPA guerrilla zone. Then a UG kasama who was probably on the government’s ‘wanted’ list would pop in.”

I know of course who “Gabby” is, who is very well known in my generation of journalists. But I was certainly surprised by Quimpo’s revelation as I never suspected she was the “PR” of the CPP. I report here only those whose identities have already been publicly revealed, as in published books by former cadres. They, using the CPP’s term, red-tagged their own comrades, not the Duterte government and certainly not me.

Do you still wonder now, dear reader, why the communist insurgency has persisted for the past 50 years?

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