Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte remains committed to seeing off the manifold terrorist threats to the security of the nation before leaving office in 2022. Duterte recently invited members of the notorious Daesh aligned Abu Sayyaf terror organisation for peace talks which aims to achieve the group’s disarmament and an amnesty for its members who renounce lawlessness and integrate themselves into lawful society. This comes after Duterte signed the historic Bangsamoro Organic Law which delivers historic justice to the Moros (Philippine Muslims) who for centuries fought against domination from the Spanish Empire, the United States, Japan and the central government of The Philippines. In working to bring about a peace accord with Moro leaders, Duterte has made it so that the cultural and social aspirations of the Moro people can now exist harmoniously in an autonomous unit within The Republic of The Philippines.
But it is not only Islamist insurgents who have threatened the security of the country. For decades, the Communist New People’s Army (NPA) has terrorised the nation with frequent attacks on both uniformed and civilian innocents, all the while using funds derived from the illegal narcotics trade to continue to arm themselves and fund their fighters.
The NPA doesn’t represent any meaningful political ideal but instead uses the language of the far left to seduce young fighters into its terror gang in order to perpetuate a cycle of ill-gotten monetary gains for the group’s leadership. Against this background, President Duterte made a plea for the NPA’s fighters to use common sense and realise that their fight while violent is politically futile – something the NPA’s leaders clearly understand, although they have thus far refused to act upon this understanding. The President said,
“You’re [NPA terrorists] fighting for a bankrupt mind. Only one person is thinking. There’s only one person using his goddamn gray matter between his ear. You are like robots. You follow orders. You are unlike policemen and soldiers. If they think it is disadvantageous, they will say ‘Mr. President, that cannot be done’. Sison [the NPA’s Europe based leader] is nothing. Unreasoned position. They cannot really carry a fight. You know that, what do you really want? You cannot even occupy a barangay [small locality].
You are robots, it’s all, what? 50 years? Everybody dies. You, in a bad day, encounter Marines and policemen. It’s either you or them. And that is your life story. You won’t go beyond that. If you guys want, just maybe a place where you can work and earn money for your family, for their education, you might do well just to talk to anybody, even to the military and the police, about how we can sort it out among ourselves.
War will bring us nothing. You communists, you’re starting to be arrogant again and you want war. So another 50 years of slaughtering your own countrymen. If that is what you want, and you stymie the development of this nation, not for you but for your children and your grandchildren now, it’s your take. Whatever you want, then so be it.
It’s not revolution. To revolutionize to develop, it ain’t really the way. It has to be evolution, gradual. You allow government to work in this area—establish economic centers; make it productive, make it safe; make the buildings, the structures fire-free; no attack; no killing”.
In making a direct plea for peace by invoking some of the duplicitous rhetoric that the NPA’s leaders use in order to incite young people into their gangsters’ nest, Duterte has effectively laid the foundation for helping to establish a more equal and fair society – a supposed goal of the far-left in The Philippines but without resorting to extremism and violence.
To understand the checked history of the NPA, one can contrast it with peaceful leftest parties in other Asian states. The most successful political party in the world today is the Communist Party of China. The key to the party’s success has been its ability to modernise with the times while retaining its core values. Also key to its success is a firm structural discipline and a sense of loyalty to the rule of law and order among its members. As a result, China under Communist rule is set to overtake the United States as the world’s biggest economy. In many areas, China has already long been on top.
While the Communist Party of China has brought prosperity and security to China, in spite of claiming to be of the same ideology, the Communist Party of The Philippines is a very different beast indeed. In the Philippines, the Communist Party is not interested in Chinese style order, instead it is interested only in power. In its quest for power, it has not only abandoned its principles, but has done so in the most vulgar way possible. While the Communist Party of China is a genuinely collective organisation that has helped elevate the condition of the people, the Communist Party of The Philippines behaves like a greedy dethroned monarch desperate for a return to power, or for that matter a spoiled Kuwaiti business oligarch who derives a sick pleasure from abusing all around him.
China realises this all too well which is why Beijing disowned Filipino Communists in the 1980s and in the present day has given President Duterte the most overt stamp of approval that any Chinese government has given to any Philippine leader.
A perfect example of the regressive attitude in the Communist Party of The Philippines is a wilfully obstructionist lawsuit filed by those connected with the Communists in an attempt to stop President Duterte’s six month closure of Boracay island due to environmental concerns, as illegal building works and un-managed waste problems have led to a near ecological disaster on the once pristine tourist hub.
In this sense, well-known friends of the Communist party are using their “power” to fight for the oligarchs of Boracay who represent the most piratical elements of black-market capitalism that one could imagine. In China, illegal buildings and black markets are tackled in a tough manner by its own ruling communist party, but in The Philippines, the Communists are willing to attach themselves to any pirate/mafia/oligarch clan in a quest for power which in reality only results in playing the role of an obstructionist to President Duterte’s actually progressive policies. In this sense, the reds and the yellows have formed a perfect de-facto alliance based on retarding the growth of the Philippines at any cost, in a vainglorious attempt to make Duterte look weak, while ordinary people ultimately pay the price.
The situation as it relates to Boracay was explained thoroughly by the former diplomat and excellent journalist Rigoberto D. Tiglao. I highly recommend reading his entire article, but the key facts pertaining to the Communists attempt to abuse the judiciary for the benefit of oligarchic black market capitalists is quoted below:
“The media reports on the Supreme Court case make it appear that Boracay’s “workers,” angry over the Duterte order, had filed it. The reality is that only three people were on record as the petitioners whom one paper identified as “Mark Anthony Zabal, who builds sand castles; Thiting Jacosalem, who drives tourists and workers; and Odon Bandiola, a non-resident who frequents Boracay for business and pleasure.”
Who are they kidding? The “builders of sand castles” in Boracay are mostly the “istambay” who mold castles and other figures out of the white sand at the beachfront resorts, in the hope that tourists would give them some change in admiration of their creation. Jacosalem is most likely a tricycle driver. Bandiola isn’t even a resident. Is he the handler of the two?
Those behind this clumsily fashioned narrative expect us to believe that these people, because they would be losing their low-paying employment, thought of filing a case at the Supreme Court, got on a plane to Manila that cost them P15,000 each, stayed in a hotel here, and contracted lawyers to do the legal documentation?
However, the people behind the petition— lawyers from the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NULP)—couldn’t resist being in the limelight, although they claimed they are just helping the poor workers fight the state.
Whether its members realize it or not, the NULP is under the firm control of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) as much it controls the National Democratic Front, the New Peoples’ Army, and the underground Kabataang Makabayan. Check out its website http://nupl.net, and you will read about their activities, which are the usual agit-prop projects of Red organizations.
Its chairman Neri Colmenares was from 2009 to 2016 the representative of the principal parliamentary-struggle organization of the CPP, Bayan Muna. The adviser to its board is the current Bayan Muna party-list representative Carlos Zarate.
And its president? Lawyer Edre Olalia, said to be a cousin of the legendary Red labor leader Rolando Olalia, who was assassinated in 1986 allegedly by the military mutineers RAM, as a message to the Communist Party to back off from taking advantage of the volatility of that period immediately after EDSA 1. Olalia is on record as the lawyer of the NDF and unofficially of CPP founder Jose Ma. C. Sison.
In trying to block Duterte’s efforts to reclaim Boracay for the state, the communists in effect have become mercenaries for the island’s big capitalists, among them business tycoon Andrew Tan, who owns the Boracay Newcoast that accounts for 15 percent of the island’s total area, Fred Elizalde who owns the shopping malls there, and even foreign capitalists such as the Singaporean owners of Shangri-la Boracay.
As I’ve written in several columns, the communists here have long ceased to be Marxists or Leninist-Maoists dedicated to create a just society. They have debased the party to became a power-hungry organization, unfortunately for the country with a huge armed force, quick to seize every opportunity to fool the masses and to create the political volatility which they hope would allow them to slip into power”.
Here Tiglao outlines how far from being true champions of working men and women, the Communists in The Philippines are champions of a campaign driven by ego, greed, obstruction, corporate degeneracy and abusing legal devices that would make a stereotypical “capitalist pig” blush. At root, the Philippine Communists and their associate organisations have come to embody everything that many on the honest left and for that matter the honest right hate about corporatism and the more unruly aspects of capitalism. Neither in a true Communist state like China, nor in one of the world’s most successful capitalist states like Singapore could such people exist as both China and Singapore have functional systems because of an inherent sense of discipline among the political and businesses classes when it comes to respecting a just rule of law.
While Singapore has been rated the world’s second freest economy, just behind China’s special Hong Kong economic zone, The Philippines, thanks to Duterte’s reformist programme is now tied with Japan for being the fifth most free economy in Asia and the 39th freest in the world.
This is a great accomplishment for Duterte, not least because Japan, in spite of having a very different political system vis-a-vis China, also does not tolerate lawlessness in the public or private sectors. But if The Philippines is to improve and the country certainly has the potential to do so, vast political and judicial reforms are required. The most successful Asian economies all have political parties and institutions that respect a disciplined rule of law where political/judicial extortion and obstructionism are unheard of. Whether in a Communist system like China, a very open capitalist system like Singapore or a regulated free market system like South Korea and Japan, the antics of the likes of the Communist Party of The Philippines would simply not be tolerated.
Therefore, it is not a matter of left versus right ideology that is at play. It is a matter of clean government, sound governance and collective political discipline versus, lawlessness, anarchy, oligarchism, economic piracy and political terrorism. In each of these ways, Duterte has proved that he is a reformer looking to reshape not only hearts and minds but the fundamental systems of governance in The Philippines.
While the Liberal Party of The Philippines likes to scream about rules and law, the reality is when a legal system favours the lawless over the disciplined, the system itself is a shambles and needs to be knocked down, cleaned up and re-built from the bottom up – just like Boracay. In this sense, Boracay is a useful metaphor for the wider problems in The Philippines. In both cases, Duterte is a man doing what needs to be done in order to clean things up and what’s more is that in extremely rich countries like Singapore, China, Japan or South Korea, gangsters pretending to be Communists wouldn’t stand in the way of him achieving this.
While the rhetoric of the NPA continues to fool some Filipinos, no one inside The Philipiens or abroad should be fooled by their statements. It remains a hope that low-level NPA members will follow the lead of former Moro militants and embrace the genuine spirit of peace that President Duterte continues to offer.