Stalinism may have collapsed in Eastern Europe, but its Maoist progeny is alive and well and on a killing spree in the Philippines. One of Stalinism’s specialties has always been the physical elimination of its political opponents, particularly those on the left. Today, more than a decade after the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), is carrying on this tradition in the name of “national liberation” and “anti-imperialism”. In the past seven months, they have gunned down three members of the Filipino non-Communist left, and even a former Communist who had been the leader of the NPA itself. In the last calendar year, they have killed a total of 10 former members of the CPP—and those are just the killings they publicly admit to.
Since the attacks of 9/11, we have heard much about the Abu Sayyaf, with its penchant for beheading “infidels”, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and both groups’ ties to al-Qaeda. But the Filipino Communists, whose terrorist campaign against the government dates back to 1969, are perhaps even more murderous. Aside from their roughly 10,000 strong peasant army in the countryside, they have long used hit squads made up of NPA urban cadre to carry out assassinations in the cities. In the 1980’s and 90’s these squads were known as “sparrows”, but in 2003 the killers go by the more professional sounding title of “National Special Operations Group (NSOG)”. The extent of their “special operations” appears to be the tactic of brazenly running up to wounded victims and finishing them off with a few more rounds to the head.
The CPP was formed in1968 as a Maoist split from the pro-Moscow Philippine Communist Party (PKP). For the Maoists, the PKP were mere parliamentary debaters not willing to wage the merciless armed struggle that was needed to seize power. Since its founding, the CPP has evinced all the usual characteristics of the Maoist version of Stalinism, such as an unsparing brutality and zero tolerance for those who disagree with its “prolonged people’s war”. Not surprisingly, there have been waves of splits and desertions away from the CPP and its New People’s Army, the first and largest occurring after the collapse of the Communist Bloc and the world-wide crisis of Marxism in the 1990’s.
Today, the left in the Philippines is chock-full of organizations made up of ex-CPP types who have balked at that party’s militaristic and corrupt leadership, its cult-like insistence on the wonders of “Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought”, and the bloody guerrilla war that it is still waging. These groups run the gamut from social democratic to Trotskyist and have increasingly challenged CPP dominance of the left. So it was only a matter of time before the CPP began doing what Communists in the third world have always done best when not in power: kill their closest political competitors and former “comrades”.
In January of this year, Romulo Kintanar, former leader of the NPA, was killed as he ate lunch in a Manila sushi bar. Kintanar was by most accounts a charismatic figure, respected even by the Filipino armed forces he had once fought. Expelled from the CPP a decade ago, he had recently worked with the Filipino government to try and put an end to the guerrilla war. But he was already a marked man, having been found “guilty” in 1993 by a CPP “people’s court” at a show trial that (thankfully for him) he did not attend. The CPP has now, ten years later, exacted the ultimate punishment for his “crimes against the revolution”.
But things didn’t end with Kintanar. In February, the CPP murdered peasant leader Raymundo Tejeno for refusing to pay a “revolutionary tax”. In May, they killed 52 year old Florante Ocmen, member of the leftist party Akbayan! According to Filipino human right’s organizations, the bodies of both Tejeno and Ocmen showed signs of torture. Most recently, the CPP murdered 22 year old Donie Valencia, a member of a “Marxist-Leninist” competitor of the CPP. The CPP also stands accused by the Filipino Workers Party (PMP) of murdering one of its leaders, Filemon Lagman, who left the CPP in 1991. And there are still hundreds of people left on the CPP’s “death lists”. Apparently, the CPP enjoys taking its time in carrying out its death sentences, in order for the psychological effect to be that much stronger on the victim’s associates, friends, and family.
Even before this latest spate of killings, in August of 2002, the State Department rightly added the CPP/NPA to its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO). It now joins Peru’s Shining Path and Colombia’s FARC as the third Communist group to be placed on the list, which numbers 36 organizations in total. Needless to say, it’s not because they’re Communists or because they represent a “liberation movement” that the CPP/NPA and the other groups have been added to the list, as many on the left claim. Much less is it because any of these groups are “…at the forefront of the world anti-imperialist struggle…” as the CPP modestly claims to be. In fact the home countries of all three groups have Marxist movements of all stripes that have not been deemed FTO’s. The reason these three groups are on the list is because they’re murderous thugs, out-and-out terrorits for whom killing in the name of The Revolution is a duty.
Not surprisingly, there has been a hue and cry among the international left wing cry-babies about the placing of the CPP/NPA on the FTO list. The eminence grise of the CPP, Professor Jose Maria Sison, from his exile in Holland, is claiming that it’s all just a US plot to derail the glorious people’s war and to nab him. Mind you, this is coming from a man who at first tried to pin the murder of Romulo Kintanar on: the CIA (of course!), US Special Forces, and even the Filipino “criminal underworld”—until his own party admitted to that particular act of “revolutionary justice” two days later! This same Professor Sison, who has plenty of blood on his hands, is today the focus of a “defense” campaign, particularly in Europe, among academics and leftist parliamentarians. What repression is the Red Professor facing in Holland? As a result of his party being placed on the FTO list, his bank accounts have been frozen, his state subsidies from the municipal government have been stopped, and his status as a “political refugee” has been removed. What capitalist barbarity!
While the murders go on in the Philippines, the European left has mobilized because of this “vicious attack” on Sison. As incredible as it may seem in 2003, there is still no shortage of “useful idiots” willing to give their time and energy to aid and abet would-be Pol Pots. Most bizarre of all is the fact that it’s the European Trotskyists—proportionately bigger on the left now that European Stalinism has all but disappeared—who have often defended the Filipino Stalinists. The Fourth International, who had one of its own supporters murdered by the CPP back in 2001, loudly denounced the recent murders at their World Congress held earlier this year. Yet trapped in the logic of their own Marxism, they also trumpeted at that same World Congress that they have always supported Sison and the CPP—the same people who would have them shot, no less!—against “Washington and the CIA”. There couldn’t be a better demonstration of why, with their continual “solidarity” movements for every third world guerilla outfit, the Trotskyists will always remain the brilliant losers of the left, endlessly supplying the very rope with which the Stalinists, such as the CPP/NPA, can hang them.
Bill King's articles have appeared at EnterStageRight.com.