THE mobilization by the Communist Party of the Philippines and its organizations against the burial of strongman Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani highlights the utter ideological and intellectual bankruptcy of what was once the vanguard of radical thought and social movements in the Philippines.
Aren’t there any other urgent issues in Philippine class society—especially since the working class have become more impoverished in the last 20 years, as almost elsewhere in the world—more important for the Left to devote itself to, other than the place of burial of a man who fell from power 30 years ago, and died 27 years ago?
US socialist leader Bernie Sanders—who lost to Hillary Clinton in the nomination for the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate—is even more radical than the CPP, campaigning for free college education. By contrast, the CPP through the National Democratic Front has demanded in the peace talks only for free education at ”the primary and secondary levels,” with free college education only “eventually.”
The demonization of Marcos by the communists since the party’s establishment in 1969, to the extent of undertaking the Plaza Miranda carnage of 1971 and blaming it on him, was of course a necessary strategy that was extremely successful. Filipinos have been deeply anti-communist because of the Catholic Church that was outraged at its atheism (the Lady of Fatima’s “Third Secret” was the conversion of godless Russia!) and of course because of US cultural hegemony during the Cold War.
By portraying itself as the vanguard against, and even the only armed opposition to the “fascist dictator,” the CPP recruited thousands of educated, idealistic youth and even clerics, who saw themselves as fighting an Asian reincarnation of Hitler. Jose Ma.Sison, the CPP founder and diabolical propagandist, wisely chose to shift the student uprising’s most dominant slogan from his pre-marital law, more Marxist “Down with the US-Marcos regime” to “Marcos, Hitler, Dictator, Tuta”, which our comrades from the slums of Tondo formulated and popularized. Its vitriolic anti-Marcos stance convinced elites whom he had called “oligarchs” and suppressed, to pour massive financial resources to the CPP and is NPA.
But that was 40 years ago.
What tactical and strategic value is it for the CPP and the NPA to mobilize resources and personnel—even its veteran cadres like Bonifacio Ilagan and SaturOcampo—to oppose Marcos’ burial at the Libingan? If it is to prevent the dictator’s son Ferdinand, Jr., from running for president in 2022, wouldn’t another Marcos be better to rouse the masses for revolution?
Shouldn’t they just let the Yellow Cultists expend their anger, since they think it was Marcos who killed the husband of their saint Cory? The anti-Marcos elites have been back in power and have expanded their wealth: They wouldn’t give the time of day now to the CPP and NPA leaders to whom they had given funds in the 1970s. Do they naively think that they can recruit into armed revolution millennials who have suddenly found it retro chic to join anti-Marcos demonstrators?
Is it because the communists have been doing the same thing, and ranting against Marcos for nearly five decades, that they can’t stop? But isn’t that one definition of mental illness?
Why, the CPP and NPA might even expand its ranks among the huge (nine million) Ilokano speakers in the country who undoubtedly continue to see Marcos as the Great Ilokano. Ilokanos may even prove vital to the Revolution, as many of them inhabit the northern mountain ranges, so ideal for establishing revolutionary bases.
Doesn’t Ocampo and Ilagan have better things to do, such as campaign for the total end to the big Filipino capitalists’ practice of denying the working class benefits due them by employing them only on a contract basis (the so-called “endo” system)?
Rather than ranting against Marcos’ burial, shouldn’t Ocampo use his popularity and devote himself to leading the labor movement, which has been totally co-opted by capitalists ever since the firebrand PopoyLagman was assassinated in 2001, allegedly by another communist faction? Other than anti-Marcos rants, have you ever heard Ocampo champion causes dear to the poor and workingmen’s hearts?
From my experience in the 1970s overseeing demonstrations, it costs (adjusted for today’s prices) at least P300,000 to organize a respectable street rally, including the placards and the now ubiquitous dump truck used as a stage and the public address system. Shouldn’t the urban-based communists use this kind of money to organize soup kitchens in our vast slum areas, as American and European Marxists do?
An Associated Press photo for a recent article on the NPA, of Southern Luzon “MelitoGlor Command” spokesman “Ka Diego,” says a thousand words. For a moment I thought the photo was the wrong one, a colorized picture of a People’s Liberation Army officer, that a sloppy editor had used.
Very serious-looking, the NPA spokesman wears a uniform—without a speck of mud and neatly ironed—of Mao’s Red Guard in the 1960s, complete with the Mao cap and red patch on his collar. You see this in China now: young Chinese making fun of that era. There are even restaurants in Beijing with their waiters and waitresses dressed in Red Guard suits.
“Ka Diego” believing he is a Red Guard or a PLA solder perfectly personifies the CPP and the NPA: time-warped in the 1970s, believing the Revolution will be next month.
The CPP’s bankruptcy is due partly to the fact that our society has achieved many of what the CPP/NPA had fought for since the 1970s, not necessarily through its army though: The fall of Marcos, the kicking out of the US military base, agrarian reform, and (but not because of them) the exodus of US firms out of the country—and into Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. It has even succeeded in making Mao’s “masses” a part of the Filipino language: masa.
Land reform—an issue that has prodded peasants to the communist cause here and in China in the 1930s and 1940s—had seemed impossible in this country where landlords have controlled the state apparatus for two centuries.
Yet as of 2013, the latest year for which the agrarian reform department has data, out of 7.8 million hectares of land that is to be “land-reformed,” government had distributed 88 percent, or 6.9 million hectares. The quintessence of landlord resistance,Hacienda Luisita’s fake corporatization scheme, was demolished by the Supreme Court, even as the Aquino clan retaliated by removing Chief Justice Renato Corona form his post.
And if the agrarian reform program falters and collapses, who should be blamed? The communist cadre and former Anakpawis representative Rafael Mariano, whom President Duterte appointed as agrarian reform secretary. Has Mariano uttered a single word that the agrarian reform program is designed to fail, has he complained about landlord interference? No.
Sison in 1970 in his Philippine Society and Revolution, the CPP/NPA bible, plagiarized Mao and claimed that he would capture power through his peasant army encircling the cities one by one, just as the Chinese Great Leader did.
Nearly half a century after the NPA was established, and after thousands of urban-raised students tried to be guerrillas and died in some forgotten jungles, the NPA hasn’t captured a single municipality, not even the remotest one in the country. The NPA doesn’t have a single Red Base. The guerilla bases it boasts about are merely areas where they camp for months, but which are abandoned as soon as an Army platoon undertakes search-and-destroy operations.
Out of touch
Many of the CPP’s leadership such as Sison have lived for three decades in the Netherlands enjoying the comforts of a once-colonial power. Others like chairman Benito Tiamzon have been living in some remote jungle distant from mainstream society. Urban cadres have lived 7/24 in urban safehouses for decades, movingwithin their own leftwing subcultures in which they talk only to their own kind. The CPP has failed to keep in touch with the times, to innovate new forms of struggle for the proletariat. Because of these, they are virtual ideological hermits out of touch with modern society.
It wasn’t even the CPP that led the campaign against endo.It has been nowhere in urban poor struggles, and labor militancy has been at its lowest point ever.
A glaring case of the CPP’s bankruptcy involves one of its purported demands for socio-economic reforms it claims government has to agree to for a peace settlement.
The CPP’s draft for a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms states: “The Parties agree to break the dominance of foreign monopoly capitalists …over the means of production and the economy, mainly through expropriation of foreign-monopoly and big-comprador assets…The Parties agree to undertake the expropriation and nationalization of the direct investments and other profit-making assets of US, Japanese and other foreign monopoly capitalists in vital and strategic industries.”
Yet with such radical statements, has any CPP representative said anything remotely pointing out and protesting the control by the Indonesian tycoon Anthoni Salim and Singtel of our telecom industry? Of Salim’s monopoly of electricity distribution in 36 cities and 75 municipalities, including Metro Manila? Of this Suharto crony’s monopoly of water distribution in 17 cities and municipalities that comprise the West Zone of the Metropolitan Manila area? Are they so out of touch with reality that they haven’t heard that Salim is now the biggest infrastructure-based magnate in the country?
For the CPP/NPA not to know these facts is just one of the many indications of the thecommunists ideological and intellectual bankruptcy.
Or maybe they’re just smarter and more pragmatic. Is there basis to the rumor that thetelcos,like most big businesses operating in remote areas, have been paying “revolutionary taxes” so their cell-sites which are spread all over the country in remote areas won’t be scorched by the NPA, as several had been in the 1990s?
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