WITH a hearty snicker, Jojo scoffed at my suggestion of CIA hand playing into the Duterte win.
“CIA, eh, eto nga’t makikipagalyansa na sa NPA (What do you mean CIA? Duterte is now about ready to enter into an alliance with the NPA),” said Jojo.
He was into an orthodox line of thought, of course. The CIA is anti-communist and it was unlikely that a CIA-crafted government would embrace the communist people’s army. But my mindset had not drifted a bit from that clandestine meeting arranged by Ninoy Aquino in Hacienda Luisita, in 1968, between University of the Philippines professor Jose Maria Sison and Hukbalahap remnant leader Bernabe Buscayno, aka “Kumander Dante.” Otherwise unknown to each other, Sison and Dante, out of that facilitation by Ninoy, teamed up thence for the propagation of what would now become the half-century-old National Democratic Revolution. The re-establishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Dec. 26, 1968 and the formation of the New People’s Army (NPA) on March 29, 1969 both came in the aftermath of that Ninoy-facilitated meeting.
Now, who was Ninoy Aquino before then? A cub reporter of The Manila Times, he covered the Korean War in the early fifties, which opened up for him American war horizons. When Ramon Magsaysay became president, Ninoy served as his presidential adviser tasked with arranging for the surrender of HUK Supremo Luis Taruc.
Now, who was Magsaysay? He was the guy successfully groomed by Lt. Col. Edward Landsdale for the Philippine presidency in 1954. And who was Landsdale? He was the CIA chief for the Far East camouflaged as Commanding General of the Joint US Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG) in the Philippines at the time.
So from Landsdale to Magsaysay and from Magsaysay to Ninoy, the CIA bloodline enjoyed a natural flow. What bloodline would flow in turn from Ninoy to the Sison-Dante tandem, otherwise known as CPP/NPA?
It is this labyrinthine relationship that one needs to unravel to get if but an inkling of how it can become possible that a CIA machination can embrace even the NPA.
In the first place, the CPP/NPA call for the downfall of American imperialism and its prognosis of a Philippine semi-colonial, semi-feudal society requiring for cure a protracted people’s war are concepts ostensibly communist and anti-American but effectively non-communist and pro-US. By focusing on US as the tactical enemy, the war was barking up the wrong tree. Marcos—as Fidel Castro had proven of Batista, knowing that US was his strategic enemy—was the tactical enemy. It was a war that could not be won. And then again, by persevering in a protracted people’s war when conditions had been reached for a strategic counter-offensive—against Marcos, that is—the so-called National Democratic Revolution was never meant to win. As actual events would prove it, that revolution succeeded only in demonizing Marcos in order to set the stage for Ninoy’s takeover of the Philippine presidency. Too bad Ninoy became a terminal heart patient and must die before achieving that objective. What CIA machination took place after that? Marcos did fall, but US maintained its grip on Philippine polity by installing Cory as President. That CIA and CPP/NPA are not incongruous with each other was immediately proven when as soon as Cory was in place in Malacañang, among her first acts was to set free who else but Sison and Dante.
Among Duterte’s earliest contemplations once in power is to free jailed communists. As a local jargon would put it, “Sounds family.” He maybe at odds with PNoy in whose veins runs the CIA bloodline of his father, but “family” in the jargon does not mean “Aquino” but “CIA.”
Just my luck the CIA aside merely became amusement stuff for Jojo. Just the same, I decided to show him the thin document I had brought with me for his perusal. The document had a caption “Eyes Only” so I can’t reveal anything of it here. Jojo made a cursory reading of its content, then handed it back to me.
“I’m no longer contesting Duterte’s win,” he said. His voice evoked goodwill for an adversary. “He got the votes all right.”
“It’s how he got those votes that’s riling me,” I wanted to tell him. “We are faced here with a monstrosity that is capable of transforming people’s individual choices into a group mind. Only the CIA is capable of doing the feat. As Magsaysay was a product of high-end public relations, so is Duterte.”
But I respected Jojo’s evident circumspection and kept my mouth shut on the topic. When I opened my mouth again, I spoke of a different matter.
“You have not conceded yet.”
“I called him up. Congratulated him.”
“You have stated that you will wait for the final official results.”
“I want my votes to be counted. Huwag namang No. 4 ako at No. 2 si Roxas. ‘Di na totoo ‘yan. (Don’t make me No. 4 and Roxas No. 2. That’s not true.”
Setting the vote count straight appears to be Jojo’s main preoccupation now. For what reason, he would not elaborate on. He envisions what he calls post-Duterte scenarios in any of which he may figure again.
A number of PNP foot patrolmen who were posted at the foot of the stairway of the Magallanes LRT station stood on alert when the vice-presidential convoy stopped on the spot to drop me off; I was in the lead vehicle with Jojo. An aide from one of the backup vehicles rushed to open the car door for me as I got out, bidding Jojo one last goodbye. The aide saw me off to the LRT station stairway while the PNP patrolmen became tentative whether or not to salute me as I proceeded to the stairs.
Jojo, who was to attend a wake for a Makati resident, had insisted that he drop me off at the LRT station where I could take a train to Cubao from where I could take a ride back home to Antipolo.
It’s been a nice evening, I said to myself as I hang on to the handrail in the standing-room-only coach of the train running down the track. The cheers of “Binay pa rin!” by the photograph-seeking crowd at the lobby of the Coconut Palace, the outpouring of affection by the “piktyur, piktyur” people from all walks of life at the wharf market highlighted by children aboard a passing van singing to Jojo the jingle “Only Binay.” Why, those were no receptions for a loser!
I swelled with newfound confidence. Duterte might have won the votes but Jojo definitely won much more hearts.
And the train chug-chugged on down the track.