YES, it would seem so, as more and more indications are emerging, pointing to the fact that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) hasn’t got a leader, the chairman, or even a centralized command. It has degenerated into a propaganda machine, with its once feared New People’s Army consisting of small, practically bandit units roaming in a few areas in the most distant countryside.
Its official organ Ang Bayan for more than two years now hasn’t reported a new chairman to be leading the party, after the killing on March 13, 2020 of Julius Giron, whom the military claimed was the party head after Benito Tiamzon was captured in March 2014. Ang Bayan or even its allied news sites like Bulatlat have not referred to any party chairman, or even just his nom de guerre.
Instead, most party statements are bylined by “Chief Information Officer Marco Valbuena.” This is extremely strange for a Marxist-Leninist party which believes in the practice of having its chairman’s name stamped on important statements, as a means of strengthening its “democratic centralism” and glorifying its leader as Stalin and Mao were.
For the CPP, the 50th anniversary of the imposition of martial law on Sept. 21, 1972, is as important as its founding: Its growth was mainly due to its demonization of Ferdinand Edralin Marcos as a ruthless dictator, and its portrayal of itself as the heroic organization, the only armed one, that fought it for 14 years. Yet its statements on martial law’s anniversary are bylined not even by the central committee but just by the “Communist Party of the Philippines.”
On the coming anniversary of martial laws, the CPP has even published a book, Paglaban sa Batas Militar sa mga Pahina ng Ang Bayan, a 400-page anthology of key editorials and news articles published in their newspaper during the period of martial law rule. Yet its foreword is by Jose Ma. Sison, its founding chairman, whose nom de guerre Amado Guerrero was in all issues of Ang Bayan, of which he was the editor before his capture in 1976.
The party appears to be in a state of confusion. The military had reported that Tiamzon had reassumed leadership of the party after Giron was killed. Then just last month, on August 22, a pumpboat initially reported to have Tiamzon and his wife Wilma Austria as passengers, exploded, for still unknown reasons off Western Samar as the military was pursuing it. The police reported that eight bodies, several torn to pieces and one headless, were retrieved the other day, all still unidentified.
My colleague, columnist Marit Sinus-Cabugon who is based in Cebu and seems to have a wide network of sources in the region, wrote the other day: “The Philippine Army has clarified that the tipster didn’t identify the couple or any one of the spouses. As of September 10, neither the CPP, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines nor the NPA has issued any statement about the August 22 incident, even just to confirm whether or not the fatalities were their comrades. The websites and social media accounts of the CPP, NPA and NDF are silent on the incident. This silence is intriguing.”
It certainly is. My sources in the Left said that reports of Tiamzon and Austria having been killed had become widespread. Such reports are certainly demoralizing to the Reds. If it is false, Ang Bayan would have screamed so. Why hasn’t it?
The Communist Party has become a party of seniors: all of its 25-man central committee are septuagenarians or will be in a few years. Sison is 81 years old, as is an icon of the revolutionary movement who is now a Philippine Star columnist. The party members’ aging in fact has prodded it to set up its own home for the elderly, to take care of those wracked by diseases of the elderly.
Even the central committee’s statement on Giron’s death strangely portrayed him as a sick old man: “He was nearly 70 years old, suffering from the infirmities of old age and had difficulty keeping his balance.” The statement claimed that killed with Giron was his “doctor, Lourdes Tan Torres,” who was attending to him.
Obviously irked that the party statement had not properly paid tribute to Giron as he was not acknowledged as party chairman, Sison said in a statement issued from his home in Utrecht: “We can expect a more authoritative and informative declaration of the central committee of the CPP. I am confident that when a more comprehensive declaration is issued by the appropriate authority of the CPP the greatness of Comrade Julius as a revolutionary patriot and communist will be amplified.”
After two years, the central committee hasn’t done so. This points to the likelihood that Giron became chairman under Sison’s aegis, which a faction of the party did not approve of, and this faction was in control after Giron’s death.
No second younger generation of communist leaders has emerged with the education and critical thinking at the level of the communists of the 1970s, nor with the willingness to l
As is often the case in any organization, when no strong leader emerges, the party could be wracked by infighting, with factions demanding that their own leader be the chairman.
The Marcos government should help in the organization’s demise by undertaking an amnesty program for CPP and NPA seniors. I bet most of the central committee members will grab at the opportunity.
It would be a delicious irony of history if the communist rebellion that emerged during the elder Marcos’ regime is buried six feet under by his son.