The communist insurgency: The Marcos-Aquino curse on the nation

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RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

The Philippine elite and all Presidents after Marcos left it alone to grow
THERE are several unique features of our unlucky country that distinguish us from the rest of booming Southeast Asian nations, among them:

A weak sense of nationalism reflected in the fact we are the biggest migrant nation in the region; an exploitative Spanish- and Chinese-descended elite that does not really see itself as Filipino; a feeble state that is easily manipulated by the oligarchy; and a nation in inane awe of foreign capital that it allows foreigners to dominate telecoms and other public utilities even if the Constitution prohibits such.

The Philippines has another unique feature that a single administration could have corrected if only it had the political will: We have the longest standing communist insurgency, not only in Southeast Asia but in the whole world. Last December, the Communist Party of the Philippines celebrated its 48th anniversary.

Other Southeast Asian nations were of course not immune to communist insurgencies, especially since China under Mao Zedong tried to foment Marxist revolution in the region in order to construct a wall of communist client states around it to keep out US hegemony.


However, all such countries which faced communist insurgencies have crushed them more than two decades ago—except the Philippines.

THE LAST MAOISTS ON EARTH: The Philippine elite allowed them to grow.

The most brutal was by Indonesia: Suharto’s government from 1965 to 1966 wiped out—physically—Asia’s biggest communist party after China’s, in such a ferocious manner that about one million Indonesians of Chinese ethnicity were killed, not just by government troopers but by racist Javanese militias.

Malaysia and Singapore started to prosper only after their British colonial administrators, and then their independent governments, crushed the Malayan Communist Party, defeated by 1960. Thailand’s communist insurgency lasted from 1965 to 1983, with the ruthless crushing of its militant student movement in the infamous Thammasat University massacre in 1976, largely unprotested by the world.

One insurgency defeated
The Philippines actually defeated one communist insurgency, that one led in the early 1950s by the pro-Soviet Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas, which tried to mimic the Chinese model of developing an anti-Japanese army during World War II into a communist “People’s Liberation Army”. Its Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon became the Hukbo na Magpapalaya sa Bayan (“Huks”). The Huks were crushed by 1954 by a popular President, Ramon Magsaysay, assisted—or led by the nose as some accounts would have it—by the US Central Intelligence Agency.

It was the newer, pro-Chinese communist party of the last Maoists on this planet, which has led the longest-running communist insurgency, with its so-called New People’s Army. That such a Maoist insurgency has raged for nearly five decades is astonishing, if you look at it.

Indeed, its strategy for capturing power—a people’s army emerging out of a Red base in the hinterlands and then encircling the cities (as Mao did in the 1940s)—in this day and age is so out of touch with reality that it is as patently insane as believing that a Divine Messiah will take over the reins of the Philippine government, because it is a devout Catholic nation.

Its major enemies—US imperialism in the Philippines and big landlords—may not have been completely vanquished, but have been inarguably defeated, as evidenced by the kicking out of all US military bases in the country and the passing of land reform laws.

There is no longer “US monopoly capital” dominating the economy, as Sison asserted in the 1970s, but an Indonesian monopoly capital, as it were, controlling telecoms and public utilities—about which, however, the communists are strangely quiet. China—which is the local communists’ beacon of Mao Zedong Thought and which even tried giving the NPA 10,00 M-14 rifles in 1971 to speed up the revolution—now has become the booming market of both ethnic Chinese and foreign capitalist billionaires.

To say that the communist insurgency persists because of Philippine poverty begs the question. Why aren’t there surging communist insurgencies in the poorest nations on the planet, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa like the Congo and Ethiopia?

Rather, the reasons for the emergence and persistence of the communist insurgency is an indictment of the Philippine elite.

The refusal of the strongman Marcos, supported by a faction of the Philippine elite, to step down when his regime was in decay, explains much of why the NPA expanded in the late 1970s until his fall in 1986. The Communist Party managed to portray itself as the only armed force capable of overthrowing a fascist dictatorship. The efforts of Marcos’ forces to defeat the NPA were spun as human rights abuses, thereby further demonizing it.

Marcos’ archenemies
But it was Marcos’ political enemies that nurtured the communist insurgency from its very inception in the late 1960s. It was Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. who linked up the college English teacher Sison and his young Maoists to Huk commander Dante and his surviving gang of Huks. The Cojuangcos allegedly financed heavily the new party and its NPA, and their vast Hacienda Luisita became the NPA’s refuge, its de facto Red base. Their motive? To make governing difficult for President Marcos who was gunning for a second term, and seemed to be succeeding.

Throughout martial law, it was the faction of the elite that was against Marcos that helped finance the NPA. Logging and mining companies of course did so not out of political motives, but out of sheer business opportunism. Provincial governors, such as those in the North, helped the NPA as long as it helped them defeat their political rivals.

President Corazon Aquino saw the communists as her allies against military mutineers, that one of her first orders when she assumed power in 1986 was to free all communist leaders, including Sison and Dante. Sison of course fled abroad to raise funds from Marxist organizations around the world, and to undertake global propaganda to propagate the party as a legitimate revolutionary quasi-state.

Even after a military-police faction fired upon leftist demonstrators that resulted in the infamous Mendiola massacre, the Cory government’s implicit policy was to let the communists alone, and seek a peaceful settlement with them. Cory even ordered a new 1987 Constitution to be formulated that would allow the communists to get their representatives into Congress through the so-called party-list system, which gave them a larger platform for propagating their demands, and even for getting government financing.

The communist insurgency has therefore been the curse put on the nation by both Marcos, during whose regime it grew, and Aquino who let it expand under her administration.

All succeeding Presidents—including President Duterte until last week—followed Cory’s policy of appeasement. This was especially so in the case of her son, Benigno S. Aquino III, who even let communist fronts hound and prosecute military commanders such as Gen. Jovito Palaparan who tried to suppress the NPA in his field of jurisdiction. There was of course an element of opportunism on the part of our Presidents, even in the case of the general in charge of fighting the NPA during martial law — President Fidel Ramos — as they wanted their terms to be without overt conflict, even as the insurgency covertly grew.

If our elite and their representatives, the Presidents of the Republic, have really left the communist insurgency alone, is it any wonder that it has existed for nearly five decades?

The communist insurgency has been a cancer all Presidents since Marcos have allowed to grow. Southeast Asian nations that faced communist insurgencies didn’t, and consequently extinguished them, removing a major block to their economies’ growth, and thereby allowing millions of their citizens and their descendants to live prosperous, happy lives.

E-mail: tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
FB: Bobi Tiglao and Rigoberto Tiglao
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26 Comments

  1. Your comments and insights, Sir, are very enlightening and engaging. Manila Times have overtaken Inquirer for well-thought and unbiased analysis as well as non-colored news

  2. How can we help the President?
    Can somebody please ask Satur Ocampo what happen to the victims of hacienda luisita massacre when he was still in congress.
    Watch Rene Saguisag reviving Mabini in order to discredit the President. Perhaps the Golberg plot is starting
    with the CBCP letter on the lead while the CPP/yellow are listening for the right opportunity to weaken the President Duterte.

  3. armando ricarte on

    Good analysis. It however failed to identify the best way to address the problem. It has only revealed partially the reason for the insurgency. The main reason for the resilience of the communist insurgency is the society itself. As it is structured right now, its like a pond for the insurgents to thrive. Measures must be adopted to drain that pond. Specifics? Too many to mention given the limited space.

  4. I suggest that Duterte ask China and Russia to help in fighting these western-backed insurgencies like the NPA and the MILF.This will throw a strong light on the bizarre reality of who has really been behind all the chaos and mayhem here in the Philippines. Imagine the propaganda opportunity for Duterte with the Russians and/or the Chinese helping us against the MILF and the NPA and the Americans defending these enemies of the state by using the human rights issue against our government. Mabubuking ang drama ang mga Kano !

  5. PRRD should start the NPA cleansing NOW! Just like what he’s been doing with the DRUG menace! Else this country will again go back to where it was after MARCOS and before DUTERTE!!!

  6. We can also blame the military for letting the growth of insurgency because without insurgency, the AFP will not be allocated with enormous budget that goes to the pockets of the generals and their traditional “pabaon” to the retiring ones.

  7. Bobi Tiglao martaming salamat! Let the violence begin! Get real PH government! Get real CPP-NPA! Who wins is right! Finish the armed struggle and lets move on…

  8. Bobi, I suggest that you and your friends in media should start using the term STG for Siison Terrorist Group in lieu of CPP or NPA. They are plain bandits and terrorists now so we can classify them similarly with the Abu Sayaf Group.

    I guess even Judy et al may now be having a wake up call or second thoughts on the movement they and we embraced during our student days in Diliman for it seems that the Sisonite movement has degenerated into an extortion binge sugar-coated with mantras of national democracy. It seems that what is in the mind of dyoma and primo fidel is simply “engage government in the peace circus while we strngthen recruitment and expand our bases during this lull of a ceasefire”. For service to the people is never killing soldiers to make a political statement but bringing relief goods to typhoon victims or pursuing human resource enhancement initiatives that Judy is doing at DsWD.

    Nation building is a work-in-progress. We can still effect restructuring of our country and effect changes without talking to the STG..

  9. If there is justice in these country, BS Aquino and his cabal should be made to answer for all the corruption they instituted during their term. Aquino must pay out of his own pocket the Belgian govt. for stupid decision not to proceed with the Laguna lake project, why should the taxpayers answer for his vindictive blunder? He has a lot of money, let him pay. The blundering idiot should not get away from this.

  10. SInce the NPA will not disband peacefully, we must finally put an end to this. No more NPA “taxes”. No more politics involved. Just achieve law and order and obtain peace for the nation.

  11. Paano naman. Ginawa silang hero, freedom fighters daw. Meron pa silang Bantayog ng mga Bayani. Tas ginawaran ng bilyones para sa human rights compensation daw. Isa pa itong US; yung Hawaii court na nagbigay ng $2bilyon para sa mga “10 thousand victims of Marcos”. Tuwang tuwa naman si Rene Saguisag, patunay daw kung gaano kademonyo si Marcos, yun pala mga komunistang SELDA at sina Joma Sison ang benepisaryo.

  12. Provided the data were well-researched on, I’m glad you put these in print. Personally, I felt displeased when after the EDSA PP Revolution I learned about Sison’s release from behind bars. Such an idiotic move! Mr Duterte starts the ball rolling vs the communists. I suggest his first move be to xpel the commies from his cabinet, then purge the Congress of the leftists voted into their posts by the people…

    • Mr. Tiglao was the head of MANILA-RIZAL Communist Party Committee in the 70s so he has a lot of inside info being part of it.

  13. Therefore, the death by firing squad handed down unto Ninoy Aquino then, was legitimate. He, being a rebel. With Joma who wanted so earnestly to topple government.
    If Suharto wiped out communism in his land, can Duterte do the same without the CHR and the priests crying “foul” again?! Are the CHR and the Roman Church pro-communist? When the Reds riddled the three soldiers with 25 plus bullets each, while ceasefire was in effect, why are the CHR and the Roman Church quiet? But if the police “shoot nanlalabang addicts/criminals”, CHR ran to the media and priests use their pulpit to advocate hatred for PRRD. May our government end this LONGEST communist insurgency this year. 5000 armed rebels. How big is the Phil military?

  14. I am an avid lifetime ‘student’ of politics, particularly in the Philippines. Your article provided the ‘dots’ to show a complete picture of the rise of insurgency in the country. With the different agenda of the so-called political leaders who, mostly, are corrupt, and the members of the oligarch who, by no means, are not patriotic at all, there’s “no light by the end of the tunnel”. Excellent article!

  15. There must be some fundamental reason other than craving for power & fame which sustain people thru the danger & hard life of fighting a government.

  16. The Great Defiant on

    is your column enough to put them all to the gallows?
    simply put they are all traitors to this country.
    but now most of them are in shadowy power mode since their tentacles are still very active in the senate and congress.

    and what about monster oligarchs like Manny P (a.k.a. Athoni Salim), the Cojuancos, Ayalas?

    what about the mainstream media as Mafia?
    and the mercenaries rich?
    the seasnake and crockgress who has done nothing good in this country and look upon themselves as “HONORABLE”?…better out “HORRORABLE” if you ask me.

  17. There is a complication in our communist insurgency because President Aquino III is using it as an excuse to make him President for life, ostensibly to save the Republic although the communist rebellion is the machinations of the Aquino family. Since we are a new Republic, we do not have much experience in governance. Our politicians are confused on what to do with political leaders who pretend to love democracy but are actually undermining it.

    Hence, we are caught in a very complicated public debate, the same debate that divided our people during Martial Law. The coming of President Rodrigo Duterte has further intensified this debate. President Duterte has a very foul mouth but he is using his foul mouth to unnerve us about the core of our problems. For the very first time, he challenged our fundamental institutions in a very disturbing way, like democracy, human rights, the Church, the respect for life etc.. Before Duterte became President, we assumed that issues like democracy, human rights, the Church, the respect for life were sacrosanct and should be respected at all cost. But our President has even questioned that.

    Definitely, the Plaza Miranda bombing, Martial Law and now the ascendancy of President Duterte has increased our political maturity. Whatever is happening to our country is part of the rising maturity of our political leaders and people.

  18. True! Everything that i read is true! I believe it was marcos who almost exterminated them. He sent sison to jail and the rest of his cohorts by some called insurgency but we must understand that without pain, no gain. Duterte is enjoying 3 thousand death on his war on drugs for just 6 month in power and i do believe its working. But i am kinda scared. Hope innocents would survive.

  19. Because the CCP-NPA are now considered a “terrorist organization” and considering that they are just around 5000, PDU30 can now solve this 5 decade-problem by putting bounties on their heads. The people in each barangay know who are these people so identifying them is not a problem. Put 1 million dead-or-alive bounties on their heads and it’s just around 5-billion php or very cheap if it will lead to solving this problem finally. A million bounty is very tempting that’s why my advice to NPAs again: Bumaba na kayo before it’s too late because it will be bloody and that even your beautiful but lonely wife will betray and marry another. The reward is legal because your are “terrorists” and/or combatants of the enemy of the State. The same justifications you used when you waylaid and ambush police and military officers without warning.

  20. Marcos’ should’ve executed Sison, Aquino, Dante, Victor Corpus, et.al. since all of them were lawfully be put to death for the crimes they’ve committed.

  21. Corgi the Welch on

    What Marcos the dictator planted and blamed as patsies for his selfish rape of PH, is too grave a condition now to fix. Lesson to learn is be very careful of what you wish for.

    • What rape are you talking about? you are another CPP/NPA/NDF propagandist who cannot put any evidence on your accusations and these fake and false lies you want us to believe hook, line and sinker. Your line of accusations is passe already and your breed should be exterminated like a dreaded disease to prevent contamination. Just look how you fooled everybody, all those human rights victims kuno are part and parcel of CPP/NPA/NDF who fought against the state. Why should the state compensate its enemies who lost its battle and yet because you managed to convinced he Elite, and the governing politicians because of their likewise vested interest, these human rights victims kuno gained recognition. You did it once, this time around the Filipino people will not anymore be a sucker to your rubbish and garbage propaganda. We want a peaceful livable nation in anticipation for its economic progress and these CPP/NPA/NDF has no right to dictate its terms to achieve our goals. Your group only deserves the “Indonesian Solution” for this countries cleansing.

    • Actually, it was Joma Sison and Ninoy who blamed Marcos for the Plaza Miranda bombing when they were actually the ones behind it. The same story goes with the supposed “disappearance” of Jalandoni. The blame game has always been the story of the communists and leftist who do nothing but demand, whine, complain, and point fingers at. They never did anything to contribute to society but so good at collecting revolutionary tax. They are basically lazy bums and will no longer want to do some hard labor and farming.