The transitional stage to communism in the Philippines


An overview and background

THE communists had planned to seat the then Davao City mayor, Rodrigo Duterte, as President of the Philippines, as early as 2010. This did not materialize because of the death of President Corazon C. Aquino on Aug. 1, 2009.This totally changed the political landscape and catapulted her son, B.S. Aquino 3rd, instead to the presidency.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), despite being preempted, succeeded in entering the inner circle of the presidency. The party list AKBAYAN was among the major yellow forces constituted the political base of Noynoy Aquino. Its leader, Ronald Llamas, became the political adviser of Aquino. Llamas had years of political dealings with seasoned communist cadres. Through him, the CPP presented to Aquino a 10-point transition program toward the establishment of a unity coalition government. This was mostly accepted by Aquino.

But the talks failed. The President turned out to be too weak to pursue anything radical. He did not collaborate with the communists but his bias against the armed forces led to policies that restricted maneuverability in their fight against the insurgents. Communists and their sympathizers within government succeeded in redirecting the thrust of the anti-insurgency campaign. Instead of pursuing the insurgents, the armed forces allowed many disbanded communist guerrilla fronts to reestablish and expand.

Changes in the strategic and tactical approach of the communists in the Philippines are worth noting at this point. Unlike in the past, the CPP no longer maintains a strict segregation between combatants and non-combatants among its members. They are no longer vocal on the strategic sequence of their activities in the cities and the countryside.

The absence of clear and specific laws on subversion and armed rebellion enhanced the advantages of the changes in the communists’ strategic and tactical approach to armed rebellion. New People’s Army (NPA) members captured in actual encounters get released on bail within 72 hours by claiming membership in legally recognized communist fronts, and by claiming to be on some humanitarian mission in that particular area of encounter.

In the cities, NPA activities are overtly undertaken in safe houses declared as offices of communist front organizations.

The CPP considered Aquino inept and weak. Understandably, these negative attributes led to the flourishing of the communists during his watch. Most reverses suffered by the communists from previous administrations were overcome with a lot of devious assistance from the Aquino government. The much improved capability of the CPP to convert Philippine society to communism was clearly facilitated by the Aquino government.

Transition to communism

One campaign message of the new President should be considered with extreme seriousness. He said that should the existing political establishment and government machinery fail his promise of change, he would declare a revolutionary government.

By no means is this an empty campaign rhetoric. Those principally behind the presidency of Duterte knew this well beforehand. What was not made clear though, except to a privileged few, was the actual trajectory of this bold effort. The multitude of supporters joining the bandwagon most likely did not know it, either.

The series of actions taken by the new government even before it assumed office indicates that the CPP is a major force in the President’s political base. The new President is legitimizing and allowing the CPP to freely establish control over many government offices, thus giving the communists critical advantage to assert their brand of change in Philippine society.

The establishment of a revolutionary government requires a revolutionary force. It is becoming obvious that the new President has chosen the CPP, and its armed wing the NPA, as major partners in this endeavor. Duterte, about 15 years ago, had mentioned that he had, indeed, established cooperation with the CPP-NPA and was finding it near impossible to part with them.

Quasi-coalition status

The appointment of communists to his Cabinet actually grants the CPP a quasi-coalition status even ahead of formal negotiations. This dramatically increases the CPP’s advantage in the contest for control of the nation’s center of power. This political opening gives the communists a monumental boost toward achieving a strategic stalemate with government.

Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) are an internationally accepted scheme of ending armed rebellion. A ceasefire or a cessation of hostilities agreement, when done outside the DDR framework, does not necessarily favor government and may even lead to the worsening of the armed conflict. From what we can read, the cessation of hostilities agreement or ceasefire being floated to government as the CPP’s welcoming present to the new President may very well be of this kind. It is a trap.

A cessation of hostilities agreement outside the DDR formula will put the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) at bay without any strategic setback on the part of the communists. With an improperly designed ceasefire agreement, the communists can freely concentrate on their consolidation of political influence among the organized masses and on their infiltration and sabotage efforts within government and the existing political establishment.

What the CPP can offer instead of a haphazard ceasefire, which would be a more genuine gesture of goodwill to the nation, is a CPP declaration to suspend, if not to stop for good, the forced imposition of their so-called revolutionary taxes. According to reliable sources, this collection amounts to much more than P200 million a month from business establishments in Mindanao alone. In addition, the CPP can also offer the suspension of what has been going on during these last several years, the forced occupation or organized squatting of government and privately owned lands by communist front organizations.

The new stalemate

The expected trajectory of communist action during the coming months is to gain a new stalemate with government. This will entail several strategic moves.

They will heighten class conflict by mobilizing the masses around land ownership, and labor related issues. It is to be expected that forced occupation and organized squatting on government and private lands both in cities and the countryside will increase dramatically. Intensified industrial disputes, pickets, rallies and strikes will be the new normal in the work place.

Squabble over land is among the most emotional issues in Philippine society. The countryside is anticipating this new front of conflict. Cadres and organs of the CPP have already alerted their circles of influence on the emerging ascendancy of their version of agrarian reform. Since the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is now under a known bona fide communist, the communist version of agrarian reform is expected to parallel the existing one and be implemented as the preferred option of government. This means that forced occupation of government and private lands for free distribution to sympathetic organized masses will be allowed and even defended and financed by government.

One good indicator that the communist effort is already gaining toward stalemate is when the ideological division within government becomes acute, with open policy conflicts among government officials becoming publicly visible, and resulting in the near paralysis of important government programs.

Splitting government is a major strategic objective of the CPP in pushing for a stalemate status with government. It is an established practice of the communists in defining the enemy. Non-communists in government and elected officials not willing to capitulate to communist rule will be labeled as enemies of the people. They will be ostracized, their reputation destroyed and, eventually, removed from government. Those remaining will constitute the revolutionary government.

Establishing the revolutionary govt

Since some critical societal and government institutions will not readily consent to a shift to communist rule, the communists will attempt to weaken these institutions or, at best, neutralize their influence among the people.

So far, success in efforts to direct the nation toward revolutionary change have been due to the timely participation of two major institutions in Philippine society: the Churches and the AFP. This is well appreciated by all quarters aspiring to see change in the country and these include the communists. Unfortunately for them, the AFP has consistently shown its very strong opposition to any endeavor that could lead to communist rule. The Churches have shown ambivalence in the past.

Communist cadres hibernating these past decades are being activated. An alarming development is the ongoing call to meetings of former priests and pastors who were cadres of the CPP before and were largely responsible for the near control of the Catholic and Protestant churches, especially in Mindanao and the Visayas. This indicates the possible revival of the Christian for National Liberation (CNL), a major front of the communists tasked then to organize the nucleus of a “church” that will be controlled by the CPP. This will probably take the position of institutionally challenging the relevance and credibility of major Churches in Philippine society today.

One ominous development is the seeming tolerance, if not full acceptance by the people, of policy options leaning toward the culture of violence in the achievement of certain populist goals. Public acceptance of this culture of violence is key to the potential acceptability of the fundamental dictum that communists in the Philippines continue to adhere to: “political power comes from the barrel of a gun.”

How the churches will meet the challenge of this fundamentally disturbing societal issue is crucial. Philippine uprisings that cause change of governments in recent times had been peaceful. Unfortunately, these peaceful revolutions did not bring about the necessary changes needed by the people. The sudden rise of communism as a possible option carries with it the alternative to employ violence and killings to achieve change.

The NPA, armed wing of the communist party, is not designed to match or directly challenge the AFP. The primary role of the NPA is with the organized masses of the people; their job is to push and guide the organized masses in defying the authority of government. Their carefully orchestrated harassment activities against isolated and vulnerable personnel and units of the AFP and the PNP are intended to convince the masses that even the strongest coercive instruments of government are vulnerable, and that government can actually be defeated. Government can be overthrown.

The goal of the NPA is to bring under its command organized masses of the people that can be employed at will as mobs on pre-chosen circumstances. The NPA will not directly employ guns to confront the AFP. They will use organized masses as human shields. Should the armed forces decide to make a preemptive move against the establishment of the revolutionary government, they will be met and matched with seasoned mobs under the command and control of the NPA.

The AFP is known to oppose any form of communist rule. Destroying its credibility with the people will be a major objective of the communists. So far the rebuilding and development of the AFP to meet present and future challenges have not been seriously pursued during past administrations. Its near-conversion as the private army of the former dictatorship damaged the AFP to the core. Attempts of its succeeding officers’ corps to restore and preserve the integrity of the institution have not been given the full support it deserves by subsequent governments.

The declaration of the incoming Chief of Staff of the AFP that the armed forces will not allow a communist takeover in the Philippines should be appreciated with a realistic degree of caution. It will be the height of folly if concerned institutions will underestimate the ability of communists to take over government, with means other than the use of arms. The AFP may find itself as the sole and most pivotal formal institution of government to preserve what is left of democracy in the Philippines. It is important that the AFP, as an institution, fully appreciates the absolute necessity of consolidating its solidarity with the people and the importance of accurately determining where the sentiment of the greater majority of the people truly lies.

The new President apparently has chosen to ride and tame the tiger. Many in history have ended being eaten by the tiger instead. If the President 15 years ago found out that it was near impossible to part with the communists, more so now. Never before were the communists given this kind of window for victory and possibility of success in the acquisition of state power. No way will they willingly give up this golden and very rare opportunity, even when it comes to having to “eat” their host.


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  1. Juan T. Delacruz on

    There will be NO transitional stage to Communism in the Philippines. and I think DU30 has trusted the NPA and they will be negotiating soon. DU30 believes that “TRUST” is the foundation of relationships. Without trust, there can be no loyalty and without loyalty, there can be no progress in negotiation. Therefore, DU30 believes the most important element in any relationship is a personal trust. As long as the NPA will show sincerity and willingness to meet the government halfway, the result of the negotiation will be a success.


    The Communists has been creeping into Philippine democracy and society.It is very evident. The people will have to be more vigilant. Let us not be hoodwinked. Communists always speaks with a forked tongue.

  3. I disagree. this is just another black propaganda my Gonzalez. he must be working for some organization or somebody to write this. first of all Duterte is not a commie but a nationalist. If he is a commie then why does he want foreign investors to come in and be allowed to owned land and real estate?, he also want to convert the government to federalism. are these the commie vision? lol of course not. Peace and order is his main focus because without it no one will invest in the country and without foreign investors there will be no jobs. and more poverty. that’s why he wants to make peace with all rebel factions and release all political prisoners. so this is writings of Gonzalez is a black propaganda. Lastly. there is the AFP watching him. so not to worry folks.

    • Do you not see the signs? Have you not seen the increased activity of the CPP/NPA/NDF and Joma Sison? Have you not read this morning about the CPP/NPA/NDF being to to renew arming themselves IN SUPPORT of the Duterte regime?

  4. Interesting article. Would Duterte’s communist leanings explain his appeasement of China in the WPS? Is he a Manchurian candidate? Food for thought indeed.

  5. It is not bad to be cautious on the intents of these left supporting people, including the current president, if he is a leftist as he admitted, regardless if he believes in their principle, still he is a left, call a spade ‘a spade’. They have a certain foothold inside the government now with no official negotiations happening, easy as a pie isn’t it? Not until JOMA, his officials and its members, surrender their arms, renounce their ideologies and willing to reintegrate with the government then that’s the time to give them the full ‘trust’ of the government but until those conditions happen let us be vigilant and aware on the intents of these people. How can WE talk peace, when the other side of whom WE are talking to still had guns and fighting our soldiers?

  6. Bert O. Romero on

    A well-thought of and provocative article worth pondering about. The so-called ” End of History ” in1991 with the breakup of the USSR preceded by the dismantling of the Berlin Wall in 1990 obviously has not ended in the Philippines with Philippine brand of communism simply hibernating these past 15 years and merely waiting for more favorable conditions to once more rear it’s ugly head. That favorable condition is none other than the emergence of the Duterte administration with its positive bias toward the CPP-NPA -NDF .
    Why give a priori importance to negotiating ceasefire agreement with the CPP-NPA-NDF when it has not reached a modicum strategic stalemate with the government in terms of military, political , economic power? Even in the above-ground electoral process, these communists and left-leaning front organizations miserably failed to have their well-known candidates elected irrevocably proclaiming the people’s rejection of what they stand for! The status of importance this Duterte administration has heaped to these communists and left-leaning front organizations is not commensurate to the level of respect the Filipino people have for them. It is hoped this Duterte administration will not sell the Philippines down the river!
    Mr. Gonzales, pls do your country a great service by continuously updating us on this very serious issue.

  7. Mr. Homobono Adaza already said it:
    “Welcome to the Philppines a province of China”

  8. Mr Gonzales,
    Gonzales! Gonzales! Gonzales you are now dreaming again if not hallucinating of your ideas. You the irresponsible guy as far I know because you dismantled MNLF into pieces. Now you are going to dismantle the government of Duterte. Your IQ in terms of of governance you are enferior to Duterte. In your stint as Defense Secretary you have nothing but you disintegrated the unity of the Filipino people. Please don’t judge the administration of President Duterte as a prelude to communist rule. He is barely 10 days in office and yet you can you can the transformation of Baclaran and Divisoria with thousands of drug addicts surrendered to the law enforcers. Have done that in your long illustrious career as executive of the land? Please refrain from publishing any hypocritical materials because instead of helping the Filipinos to grow but you move backward. For the maintime keep your mouth zippered and hand tied for the period of 6 months so that you may realize that Duterte is a truly President of more 16 million who voted for him. Have a nice day Mr. Gonzales.

  9. I beg to disagree. As Pres. Duterte says , he is from the left but he is not a communist because he don’t believe in their principles. What he wants is peace in our country. They are Filipinos too. Why they became radical? Because they clamor for change and freedom. Equal rights. We want peace and we want to travel anywhere in the Philippines without fear especially in Mindanao. As to positions in government let’s give them , it is their rights too represent their region. Let’s stop hate media and negative comments and let’s start move forward for the new Filipinos under Duterte Adm. I hope and pray that the next Pres. will continue his works and legacy.From there I know Philippines will be great again, Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

    • Peace? by conniving and calling the abu sayaf not criminals? by accomodating the NPA and being weak against China? Duterte wants to portray as a strongman but actually weak. Against common criminals he plays tough but become chicken when faced with strong adversaries, even siding with them. Maybe when a strong drug cartel from South America will enter the Philippines, he will change his mind about his campaign with drugs. He’s a farce!

  10. We must accept the reds or communists in any political color with an open mind if they renounced violence and armed struggle. Duterte is a self confessed socialist and the social democrats of Western Europe rose to power after the devastation of two world wars and become prosperous without tinkering the Christian faith.They have done this at the expense of the communist who promised liberation and prosperity in a utopic workers paradise led by the Soviet Union. The filipinos will never comprehend the meaning of democracy if they will remain poor and exploited by the capitalist elite of this country. If they will win the hearts and minds of our countrymen without their armed component then let them join the government.

  11. Jose dela Cruz on

    No to Communism. Not today nor in the future. While the communists helped Duterte in the campaign, the great majority of those who voted for Duterte did not want him to forge an alliance with the Communists. What has Communism got to offer the Filipinos, the failed collectivism and authoritarian rule? No way commies, get lost!

  12. Roldan Guerrero on

    I would like to give a sort of partial applause to the author of this piece of writing not because of its substance but his courage to bring about to the Filipino people the failed perennial attempts of some people who have communistic ideologies. Maybe, every democratic individual`s concept about communism is, which I am sure the author will agree with me is the reign of few people in a circle of individuals called POLITBURO. What the writer lacks is his cowardy not to have mentioned Ninoy Aquino as the Co-founder in tandem with Joma Sison of COMMUNISM in the Philippines. Ninoy Aquino was so obcessed of becoming President of this nation, which failed because he did not have the necessary intellect Marcos had, the president who set him free, financed his comfortable life with his family in the US, but continued to defame Marcos and eventually returned where he met his death that up to now it is unclear who the real culprit was. The Anti-Marcos oligarch took advantage of his death with strong but false propaganda, Marcos was toppled not by the HOAX People`s Power but by the CIA. Corazon Aquino came to power, but again failed to pursue communism as a result of her inability to exercise strong leadership. What was Cory`s agenda of government? NO AGENDA….her purpose was just to continue demonizing Marcos. Of course the STUPID SON became president again as product of sympathy, the death of the BLANK HEADED EX PRESIDENT WHO WAS DESCRIBED AS A SAINT BY THE COMBINED OLIGARCH WHO BENEFITTED ON THE FALL OF MARCOS, AND IN MEMORIAM OF A NATIONAL TRAITOR WHO WAS DESCRIBED AS A HERO. What happened in the regime of the only son now dubbed as the worst President of the Philippines? Can you imagine a President using a YELLOW RIBBON INSIGNIA instead of using the Phil. Flag as traditionally used by all his predecessors? What country does he really represent? With due respect to the author of this writing which I FIRMLY BELIEVE AS GOOD FOR THE DUSTBIN……will America allow the Philippines fall into communism?I am very sure America will not. As an ordinary citizen of this Republic, I may not have the same level of intellect as what Mr.Norberto B. Gonzales have but I would be happier if he will write again a more interesting story that will be worth reading and more realistic one.

    • If Ninoy was a co-founder of communism then it would appear that Marcos was the defender of democracy. Why then would the CIA topple Marcos and in the process install Cory? That doesnt seem to make sense.

  13. What a scary bit of news! We the people have to be vigilant to prevent a Communist take over of our government. So Duterte is part of the scheme of the communists?

    I hope the media, the Church and the AFP be on the alert to any new developments towards the aim of the communists to take over and thwart this threat!!

    God help the Philippines.

    • Please Paki basa muna ng factual accounts of what happened sa martial law at 86revolution , so that you will be equipped to distinguish credible essays.

      This essay was written by hardcore anti communist with discredited theories which has no place in pluralistic society.