CPP as political party

COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva1 - The Philippine Star

The latest attack by the New People’s Army (NPA) against an incumbent mayor who was campaigning for an administration-backed local mayoral candidate running in the May 13 elections has brought the communist rebels back to the limelight. The NPA — the armed component of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and their umbrella group National Democratic Front (NDF) — has basically been reduced to pocket ambushes of government troopers in far-flung areas of the country.

But the attack on the convoy of outgoing Gingoog Mayor Ruthie Guingona last Saturday brought the NPAs back to national attention. This the NPA achieved when one of their victims turned out to be the wife of former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr. and mother of incumbent pro-administration Senator TG Guingona III.

The current NPA leadership did not even know — but only belatedly — that the target they netted at the outskirts of Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental was a high-profile politician. Mayor Guingona’s driver Nestor Velasco and his brother Tomas died at the scene. The mayor’s security escort, Special Police Officer 3 Roland Dimerito, and a civilian identified as Leo Cante were wounded.

The 78-year-old Mayor Guingona, who is on her third and final term, had attended a village beauty pageant in Barangay Alagatan. She went there to campaign for her daughter Marie, who is seeking to succeed her as mayor under the administration Liberal Party (LP).

The acknowledged NPA spokesman Jorge Madlos apologized to the Guingona family after they learned who were harmed in that ambush. It was rather ironic that the victim of this NPA attack is the wife of Guingona who, during his term as senator was one of the so-called “magnificent 12” who voted in 1991 to abrogate the RP-US military bases agreement that the CPP-NPA-NDF pushed for, however, through violent means.

With the US bases out, former President Fidel V. Ramos pushed Congress to pass a law that legalized the once outlawed CPP. Ramos signed Republic Act 7636 on October 11,1992. RA 7636 repealed RA 1700, or the Anti-Subversion Act signed on June 20,1957 that declared the CPP an illegal organization and membership therein was considered a criminal offense.

Ramos offered RA 7636 as a confidence-building measure to convince the CPP-NPA-NDF to return to the negotiating table and forge a formal peace agreement with the government. Despite persistence of Ramos and subsequent administrations, the government’s attempts to win over the CPP-NPA-NDF to sign a peace deal proved futile.

In both laws, the CPP is recognized as a political party. If that’s their status and they call themselves “Party,” what’s stopping the CPP leaders from the Utrecht-based Jose Ma. Sison to Madlos here in the Philippines, to participate in democratic elections?

All CPP leaders need to do is to register as a political organization before the Commission on Elections (Comelec). Most of the left-leaning and communist-influenced groups like Kilusang Mayo Uno, Bayan Muna, Anak-Pawis, etcetera have done so as party-list groups.

With the recent Supreme Court (SC) ruling that expanded the coverage of party-list groups to include marginalized political parties, the CPP could very well fall under this category in the next elections.

If they really want to be the one to run the government and impose and collect taxes, the CPP could put up their own presidential candidate in the next national elections in May 2016. But obviously, the CPP has not abandoned their organization’s sole objective to overthrow government by force and violence and establish a totalitarian regime that they espouse.

This incident came less than a month before local elections in May. The NPA guerrillas, who impose their own progressive taxes by threats and intimidation, have been taking advantage of the election season to also raise additional funds for their cause. They call it “permit-to-campaign” fees that will allow candidates to enter their areas without being harmed.

Much earlier, police pointed to NPA rebels as the culprits who fired at the convoy of senatorial candidate, Cagayan Rep. Juan Ponce “Jack” Enrile. The convoy of Enrile, which included his police escorts, was on the road in Mawab, Compostela Valley province last March 19 when a hail of bullets pierced their vehicles. Luckily, no one was injured.

Enrile is running for senator under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). He is the son of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, acknowledged martial law administrator during the Marcos regime that NPA rebels heavily fought against.

The young Enrile though believes he was not the target of the botched ambush, but was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. “Because everywhere I go around the country, people hug or embrace me and even kiss me,” Enrile said. 

At present, government authorities place the NPA strength at around 4,200 regulars equipped with about 5,000 firearms. We just don’t know how they come up with these figures and if they did a head count.

During the recent closed-door command conference in Camp Crame attended by officials of the Comelec, the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Department of Education (DepEd), a report was presented to show also that the number of provinces where insurgents are relatively active has been reduced from 31 in 2011 to 28 in 2012. 

Despite the three recent major attacks, government authorities insisted the level of insurgency has supposedly weakened in the provinces of Sorsogon, Iloilo, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Ilocos Norte, Rizal, Batangas, Occidental Mindoro, Aklan, Negros Oriental, Sultan Kudarat, and Pampanga.

Following the legalization of the CPP, the NPA has lost much ground as many of its leaders and members have abandoned the armed cause and returned to mainstream society. Not to mention that many of these idealist men and women have died fighting for their cause through these years.

No one needs to die for his or her ideological beliefs, including those in the CPP-NPA-NDF. There should be no problem for the CPP to enlist at the Comelec as a political party through which they could pursue their communist platform without bloodshed.



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