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Secrets of the Plaza Miranda Bombing

In 1989, American journalist Gregg Jones published a book Red Revolution, which incontrovertibly showed that it was the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) that undertook August 21 1971 the bombing of the Liberal Party’s main electoral rally.

That was the vilest false-flag operation ever undertaken in this country. Even as Jones was largely sympathetic to the Communist insurgency, seeing it as a legitimate revolutionary movement against the dictatorship, his book had a chapter titled “Ghosts of Plaza Miranda.” There, he said the perpetrator was the CPP, as ordered by its chairman then Jose Ma. Sison. The book provided details on how the Plaza Miranda was planned and executed, the personalities involved, based on his interviews with officials at the Central Committee level.

Right after the grenades exploded at Plaza Miranda, August 21, 1971.
(From Jones’ book, attributed to Lopez Museum)

What helped Jones to unearth what was then a long-buried truth of CPP’s culpability was that by intent or sheer luck, he got to rent with his Filipina wife Aleli,a bungalow inside the Quezon City residential compound of the distinguished Armando Malay family. There in the same compound National Democratic Front leader (and Central Committee member) Satur Ocampo, his wife Bobbie Malay, and his brother-in-law Ricardo Malay lived in separate houses.

These longtime CPP cadres most probably became Jones’ close friends, trusting him enough to unload from their chests what the long-kept secrets of the Plaza Miranda bombing, which the Left and the Yellows blame the Ferdinand Marcos regime – to this day. I’m quite sure Ocampo told Jones what he knew the CPP was responsible . Why does he continue to stay with this organization that ignores basic morality, and even defend it on his Philippine Star column?

Ricardo (“Dick”) Malay was with the Party delegation to China starting 1970. He revealed in Manila Chronicle articles in the early 1990s that his group were told beforehand – days before — about the bombing by Ibarra Tubianosa, the delegation’s head who was one of the Sison’s five-man executive committee. (Another member of the delegation Mario Miclat confirmed Malay’s narrative, also in a fictional form in his novel Secrets of the 18 Mansions about which I wrote in a column.)


Jones’ book was heavily footnoted, with almost all of his statements attributed to a source, described by party post but not named. For instance; “ Author’s interview with a former CPP Central Committee member, May 17, 1988.”

To Jones kindness, he agreed to my request when he interviewed me in 1989 not to identify two high party officials he mentioned in his book but merely to describe them.

Jones would have named this party official but instead wrote:

“At dusk on August 21 [day of the bombing] Central Committee member Manuel Collantes picked up Guevarra [Ruben, head of the NPA in Northern Luzon, whom Sison assigned the task of bringing posthaste the bombers to his base in Isabela] and drove him to a communist safe house … Guevarra was greeted by Sison, Politburo member Hermenigildo Garcia IV and another Politburo member who headed the Party’s organizational department.”


The Organization Department head was the late “M.A.”, whom I asked Jones not to name. Because he was Garcia’s superior, and from other information I know, I had concluded years ago that he was the Party cadre Sison assigned to undertake the Plaza Miranda bombing. I am identifying him only by his initials, so as to spare to his ex-wife and son, who live quiet lives California.

Anyway the people who would be in interested in the details of the Plaza Miranda bombing would be largely those who were members or supporters of the communist insurgency, who could easily decode who “M.A.” is I reveal these details to emphasize that the accusation that Sison ordered is supported by hard facts, its implementors known.

It was M.A. who recruited me into the Party in 1969, and had been my political mentor of sorts. Captured in 1974, he was suffering after his release in 1986 from some psychological disorder. I I feared that his being named in Jones 1989 book linking him even in a remote way to the bombing would push him towards the brink, so I requested Jones not to identify him. He managed to control his illness though his sickness to pursue a career as instructor at a university. .

M.A. died in 2007 after a year-long coma because of a heart attack. The CPP had a long eulogy for him, in which it claimed “that under his guidance the party leadership grew to 4,000 by 1974”. Not only that, he was the first Party cadre to be given a separate lengthy eulogy of 2,000 words “(by founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison In his eulogy, Sison confirmed M.A. as the Party’s National Organization Department Head until his capture in 1974, a post which puts him, at that time, No. 3 (after Sison and the Secretary General) in the CPP’s hierarchy.

Political Bureau

Sison in his eulogy praised M.A. for accomplishing the task given him by the Political Bureau in August 1970 to increase the number of Party members from hundreds to 4,000 from 1970 to 1974”

So profuse was the Party and Sison’s eulogy for M.A that it puzzled most Party members and mass activists who never before heard of him. Indeed, in the 20 years he was first a student and then a instructor at the university. . He largely kept to himself, and few paid him any attention, much less know that he was the party officer who directed Kabataang Makabayan and the unprecedented demonstrations it led, and manipulated the UP to launch the 1971 Diliman Commune.

However, I don’t think it was for these tasks Sison mainly praised him for. My theory why Sison was paid M.A. the highest tribute, based on my information and “exegesis’ of his eulogy, as it were, is that that he was praising him for having successfully executed the Plaza Miranda bombing in August 1971 which was really, as Sison wrote, “the task given to him by the five-man Political Bureau in August 1970.”


Sison apparently has never changed his mind that the Plaza Miranda bombing was a politically correct move, justified by “revolutionary morality” – as communists termed some deeds immoral in ordinary society — and a egoist, he wanted to be sure that historians of the future. would give credit to him and his official who executed the plot.

Jones referred to the second party cadre I requested him not to name in the following sentence:

“Plaza Miranda continued to haunt a few communist officials who knew of Party culpability. Most bore the truth in troubled silence. Only one was ever moved to act. The cadre who was the CPP Manila regional secretary at the time finally resigned from the Party in the mid-1970s because of his disapproval of the bombing.”

A footnote at the end of this sentence read: “ The Party official alluded to the Plaza Miranda bombing in his resignation letter. The official’s resignation was first described to the author during a May 17, 1988, interview with a former CPP Central Committee member who read the resignation letter. In January 1989, the former Manila Party secretary confirmed his resignation during a conversation with the author. As of 1989, he was a successful professional living in Manila. I have not named the former CPP official in order to spare him and his family from possible attack by right-wing extremists.”

That threat I would think, or hope, has long gone. That Party official was me. So do not wonder why I have written several columns on this seminal event in Philippine history, without which there would not have been Martial Law in the Philippines. Knowing who the perpetrators of the Plaza Miranda bombing will enlighten us like a bolt of lightning what Martial Law was really about.


Jones’ book is out of print, but available in Kindle form and a few hard copies are available at amazon.com at steep prices. I thank a newfound friend, Filipino-Canadian Dennis de los Reyes for gifting me last week, with a hard-bound copy of Red Revolution.

As the book is (even the Kindle edition for many) is beyond the means of people interested in Plaza Miranda bombing. . I will be posting in this column in the coming days Jones’ abbreviated version of “Ghosts of Plaza Miranda” as published in the Washington Post, August 9, 1989. Jones told me that he has a contract with the Ateneo Press to publish a Philippine edition. With the Yellows in complete command of the Ateneo I don’t think it ever will.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Dorina Rojas

    This is terrific and very much long-awaited. I might have heard some ideas about these secrets, but the entire story and details must be out in full. Forget about Ateneo Press, they are still filled with the spirits of giving an honoris causa to Maria Ressa, maybe they are still working it out to make her a beauty queen. I want to puke.

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