JULY 2 was a Saturday, the first for the month. Already by tradition, the group, acknowledged stalwarts of the communist movement in Central Luzon, held their reunion and I was honored to be invited to the occasion. The former Kilusang Makabayan (KM) firebrand, Luzvimindo David, had conveyed to me the invitation at the farewell party of some sort thrown by Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, at the Coconut Palace, a week earlier; Mindo and I were part of Barangay Binay, one of several so-called parallel groups supporting the presidential campaign of Jojo. I thought it would be nice hobnobbing with old comrades once again and I told Mindo I would attend the reunion.
I asked kumpadre Diego Cagahastian if he wanted to go with me; we shared a collective, a highly-secret one, known only to the General Command of the New People’s Army to which it was directly responsible.
“Yes,” came Diego’s curt text reply.
But as the day of the occasion neared, Diego texted me a lengthier message: “By the way, be sure you do not have personal security problem in this reunion. Baka nasaktan mo na nang husto si Joma.”
I could understand Diego’s concern. He certainly could be thinking of the fate that befell Rolando Kintanar, former NPA chief, who was gunned down in 2003 in an assassination to which Jose Maria Sison owned up through his spokesman Ka Roger Rosal. The implied allusion to the incident rather amused me. RK (as we fondly called Kintanar) had one whole armed group to match up with that of Joma; I only have my personal computer.
If at all, what I would meet up with is computer-generated ratatat, as were the comments thrown at my review of “Heneral Luna” in which I likened the killing of Luna by Aguinaldo to that of Kintanar by Sison. Our former intelligence head of the NPA General Command had suspected that those comments, ostensibly from one Arao Liwanag, were from Sison himself.
“Binabanatan ka ni Joma,” said Ka Arman.
I shrugged a shoulder.
Anyway, just to satisfy Diego’s concern, I conveyed the matter to Mindo, who, in a text message, rather amusedly said that in the reunion there wouldn’t be any RA (Reaffirmist) and RJ (Rejectionist), only Rejoice. Just to clarify this matter, in 1991, Sison issued his Reaffirm Our Basic Principle, Stand By Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought.
Ostensibly meant to rectify what were perceived to be errors of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the document instead served to split the Party and throw back the revolution to where it began in the late 60s.
Two other prominent revolutionary leaders, who were gunned down in the wake of the Reaffirm, were Popoy Lagman, head of the powerful NCR Regional Party Committee and the urban guerrilla unit Alex Boncayao Brigade, and Arturo Tabara, of the Visayas region. All those who fell were opposed to the Sison protracted people’s war strategy; Kintanar’s proposal, which was approved by then-CPP Chairman Rodolfo Salas, alias “Kumander Bilog” (Sison reassumed leadership of the Party after being released by Cory in 1986), was for a quick, urban-based insurrection in the genre of the Sandinista uprising in Panama.
By Mindo’s assurance, these issues no longer mattered in the upcoming reunion.
My private hankering, however, was that those issues would still be in the agenda. I asked Mindo who would be attending on the occasion. First, he said, would be Juaning Rivera, whom I had not met yet but whose name rang a bell as a former member of the CPP Central Committee. Then Mindo said Bilog would be there. This got me particularly excited.
I first met Bilog in 1985 when he was brought to my place in Antipolo by Ka Choleng, a collective-mate in the Katipunan ng mga Samahan ng mga Manggagawa (KASAMA).
Before that, my small farm served as a study site for a Party Group, calling itself as an organ of IL (for International Liaison, whatever that was), which they claimed as the most powerful organ of the Party next to the NPA. It turned out that the head of the group, Ka Sandra, knew Ka Choleng, who in turn knew Kumander Bilog. Learning, presumably, of the huge utility of the farm for revolutionary purposes, Bilog gave the directive that thenceforth the place would be reserved only for top leadership of the Party and the Army.
Thus, it came to pass that my house became the general headquarters of some sort for the General Staff of the NPA, the Komiteng Tagapagpaganap ng Komite Sentral (Executive Committee of Central Committee – KTKS), the executive arm of the CPP, and the CPP Politburo.
The last big name Mindo cited was Payat, a fond moniker for Bernabe Buscayno, alias “Kumander Dante.”
“Pero hindi sigurado kung makararating si Payat (But it’s not sure Payat would be coming,” said Mindo. “Hindi na siya masyadong naglalalabas, lalo na sa gabi (He doesn’t go out often anymore, especially at night).”
The last time I met Dante was in 1986, right after his release as a consequence of the EDSA revolt; he and Sison were among the very first prisoners ordered freed by Cory. A film-producer friend was interested in filming his story and I arranged a meeting with Dante to discuss the matter. The meeting took place at the pavilion of the farm adjacent to mine, the Valdez Farm owned by Ambassador Carlos Valdez. (No intention here to involve the ambassador in this matter; it just so happened that the caretakers of the Valdez farm were friendly enough to allow us the use of the place for what, I told them, was a meeting for filming purposes.) Diego was with me in that meeting.
During the course of the discussion, Dante asserted that despite his long incarceration, he remained head of the NPA. At once, I sensed a very serious problem.
(To be continued.)