This article would take about 5-10 minutes to read. Unfortunately, this time, it’s not satire.
In the past few months, you may have heard about the mass movement organized by President Rodrigo Duterte, his allies, and his supporters: the Kilusang Pagbabago (lit. “Change Movement”) or KP. Spearheaded by no less than Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco, the KP was formed on August 13 to “protect Duterte” as the ruling Administration Bloc makes changes to the country as it sees fit.
The move has elicited comparisons to former dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ Kilusang Bagong Lipunan – and we’re not just talking about the wording – which was also formed after taking power as President.
“Using extensive government funds, personnel and resources, [the Kilusang Pagbabago] could be utilized to organize a parallel bureaucracy to create a Stalinist cult around the President”
– Francisco “Kit” Tatad, Minister of Public Information under Ferdinand Marcos (1969-80)
Strangely enough, while most would expect the Duterte Administration to cement the now-ruling party, PDP-Laban, in power, the rise of the KP has instead created rifts among the President’s allies. PDP-Laban’s Founder and Chairman Emeritus, former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., told the Philippine Star that perhaps Duterte “is not comfortable with PDP-Laban’s ideological direction.”
Digong, Joma, Bongbong – An Unholy Alliance?
You may have also heard of the criticism facing leftist Secretaries to the Duterte Cabinet nominated by the communist National Democratic Front, namely Paeng Mariano (DAR, Anakpawis), Judy Taguiwalo (DSWD), and Liza Maza (NAPC, Gabriela), following certain government controversies such as the rise in Extrajudicial Killings under Duterte and the sneaky burial of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani.
Courtesy of reliable informants in different universities and at different levels of the KP, the Superficial Gazette brings you a new glimpse into the Kilusang Pagbabago: a Duterte-Marcos-Arroyo grassroots alliance organized by the Communists. Let’s take a look at the core movers:
- Duterte: The President and his allies aim to make the most out of their being in power by organizing a grassroots support movement for the President – because armies of fake account trolls can only go so far.
- The Marcoses: With the Duterte Administration following their wishes, the Marcos Bloc has used its manpower and expertise in forming troll armies for propaganda purposes to catapult Duterte into Malacañang, while paving the way for Bongbong Marcos’ Presidential Campaign in 2022.
- Arroyo: The former, corruption-ridden President and her allies, bitter at the treatment they got from the Aquino Administration and the Liberal Party from 2010-2016, are now out to turn the tables on their political rivals.
- The Communists: Beyond a Government-NPA Ceasefire and the appointment of members of its front organizations to the Duterte Cabinet, the CPP-NPA-NDF and its front organizations, who comprise the Makabayan Bloc in Congress, have jumped at the opportunity for a tactical alliance with the Duterte Administration.
In a twist of poetic irony, the Communists were themselves the scapegoats that dictator Ferdinand Marcos used to arouse fear in Filipinos during his Presidency, just as Rodrigo Duterte does with drug personalities today.
For those unfamiliar with the communists, leading communist organization in the Philippines – the CPP-NPA-NDF – is composed of three distinct, but intertwined groups:
- Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – Founded by Joma Sison in 1968, the CPP sets the policy direction followed by its entire communist network.
- New People’s Army (NPA) – The armed wing of the CPP which focuses mainly on killing Filipino soldiers and extorting “revolutionary taxes” from the countryside, the NPA is designated as a terrorist organization by both the US State Department and the European Union.
- National Democratic Front (NDF) – The main “front” of the coalition, the NDF takes the lead in the CPP’s external negotiations with the Philippine Government and other political factions.
While the communists have, on numerous occasions, claimed to be continually vigilant against the mistakes of the Duterte Administration, this translates into little more than lip service, at least at the level of the political leadership – the opportunity to finally harness government power, offered to them by the President, has proven valuable enough for them to swallow even their hatred of the Marcoses. But despite appearances, this would hardly be their first alliance: they shared the same Senate slate with Bongbong Marcos in 2010.
Prime Movers: Organizing the KP
Through the Marcos Dictatorship and succeeding Administrations, the communists, operating as the CPP-NPA-NDF, have not been able to cast off the stigma from ordinary Filipinos that joining their ranks is tantamount to being a criminal.
Its armed wing, the New People’s Army, is responsible for innumerable Human Rights Violations, whether through direct terrorist attacks or “revolutionary courts.” The NPA’s insurgency from 1969 to the present, which is without significant victory, has left more than 9,867 soldiers and 10,672 civilians dead, as well as 22,799 rebels, according to a 2002 AFP estimate.
(READ: “Philippines: Communist Rebels Target Civilians,” Human Rights Watch)
For this reason, the CPP-NPA-NDF created front organizations to gather support from Filipinos who would not sympathize with the communists directly. Under the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan coalition (BAYAN), their aim is to secure seats in Congress, now known as the “Makabayan Bloc” of Partylists: Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, Kabataan, ACT Teachers, and Katribu.
In addition to these, they have a wide range of front organizations in the civil society sector, including active youth organizations such as Anakbayan, the League of Filipino Students (LFS), and the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), to name a few. These organizations are used to recruit and screen trustworthy members for the CPP-NPA-NDF’s nationwide multi-sectoral operations.
The KP also aims to form a coalition of the Nacionalista Party, Lakas-CMD (Arroyo), Marcos Loyalists, Duterte Supporters, and as much undecided Filipinos (especially non-Communist sympathizers) as possible. According to the Superficial Gazette’s informants, it is currently headed by a National Organizing Committee (NOC-KP) composed of the following:
- Joselito Libres, alyas “Bosyo”, National Lead Convenor
• Also the Convenor for the Mindanao Organizing Committee (KP MOC)
• An ex-detainee who was the Former Secretary of the CPP’s Davao City Urban Committee (CPP-DCUC), under the Southern Mindanao Regional Party Committee (CPP-SMRPC).
• 2015: Raised to the CPP’s Central Committee (CC) as a member in the CPP’s 14th Plenum
- Edina Almodal, alyas “Ayi/Judy”, Luzon Convenor
• Lead Convenor for the KP’s Luzon Organizing Committee (KP-LOC)
• Early 80’s: A graduate of UP Diliman and an underground activist, she was first reported as a full member of the CPP during her stint with the Party’s Manila Rizal Regional Party Committee (CPP-MRRPC).
• Late 80’s: Reassigned to the CPP’s National Youth Student Bureau (CPP-NYS) of the CPP’s National Organizational Department NOC to help consolidate the CPP’s Rectification Campaign.
• 2008: Elected as a Regular Member of the CPP’s Central Committee, in her capacity the #2 person in the CPP-MRRPC.
• 2008-2012: Deputy Secretary of the NDF-MRRPC Chairperson
• 2012-???: Reassigned to the CPP’s National United Front Commission (CPP-NUFC) as Secretary of the Special United Front Bureau (CPP-SUFB) in charge of alliance building
- Doris Isobal Mongaya, alyas “Chona”, Visayas Convenor
• Lead Convenor for the KP’s Visayas Organizing Committee (KP-VOC)
• A full member of the CPP with a wide media network, Mongaya is assigned to the NDF’s Visayas Council
• Wife of Anol Mongaya, also a CPP full member who sits in the Party’s Visayas Commission.
- Bing Panti
• A CPP full member from Western Visayas
- Atty. Rex Godinez-Fernandez
• Mid-2000’s: Became a regular member of the NDF’s Lupon ng Manananggol Para sa Bayan (LUMABAN)
• 2016: Inducted as a full member of the CPP, assigned to NDF-Visayas
• A former underground activist who was arrested and detained in Cebu City and a very active leader in the Campaign Duterte Team (CDT)
• The National Lead Counsel of KARAPATAN, a CPP-NPA-NDF front organization in the Human Rights sector
- Nini Balaquio, Central Luzon Organizing Committee
• Convenor of the KP’s Central Luzon Organizing Committee (KP-CLOC)
- Fred Abad
• Not much is known about him other than being an “advance ND activist”
- Abdurashid “Ding” Ladayo, alyas “Noor”, ARMM Organizing Committee
• Lead Convenor of the KP’s ARMM Organizing Committee (KP-ARMMOC)
• A CPP member from Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte, Ladayo is a media practioner accredited by the National Press Club
• A senior leader of the Suara Bangsamoro, a CPP-NPA-NDF front organization in the Moro sector, as well as the NDF’s Moro Resistance and Liberation Organization (NDF-MRLO)
• Maintains direct contact with alias “Nestor / Tony”, a Balik Islam CPP member who is a high-ranking member of the NPA’s Moro Army Committee (NPA-MAC)
- ASec. Richard Bong Ano II, Department of Agriculture
• Assistant Secretary for Operations of the DA, but not a CPP member
The nine NOC members mentioned above form the KP-NOC’s National Executive Committee. Aside from them, another 6 slots are reserved for individuals from the workers, farmers, fisherfolks, youth, women, indigenous people, and OFW sectors.
This information reveals the real reason why the Communists have not broken their alliance with Duterte – aside from the opportunity for a tactical alliance itself, the machinery used to organize the KP on a nationwide scale is that of the communist NDF.
Internal Assessment and Government Fast-Tracking
What we know about government-side efforts to fast-track the National Assembly of the KP are the following:
- The planned theme would be “Convert the Power of the People, During the Campaign into Power of People in Governance.”
- Sec. Evasco, aided by two (2) undersecretaries, Peter Lavina and Dale Cabrera, who are also CPP members, created the Office for Participatory Governance (OPG) to manage the growth and expansion of KP on a nationwide scale.
- With an estimated 1 million members (and “members”) nationwide, there have been reports on the ground of the KP resorting to tactics such as promising free housing in exchange for joining and paying membership dues.*
- The NDF, through its front and legal machineries advertises the role of “Change Warriors” to attract the “unorganized masses” in the rural and urban areas, as well as OFWs and overseas Filipino support networks.
(* A similar comparison: Ferdinand Marcos railroaded the 1973 Philippine Constitution – one tactic used was going to different Barangays, asking who wanted free rice, and using subsequent pictures of crowds raising hands as propaganda to show “overwhelming support.”)
Dismantling of Democracy, Authoritarian Dictatorship
Behind the sudden rise and organizing of the KP, there lies a single goal: to consolidate the grassroots support of the Duterte-Marcos-Arroyo bloc in preparation for a revolutionary authoritarian dictatorship, in alliance with the Communists.
A fatal mistake of the previous Administrations under the restored post-Marcos democracy, especially that of President Corazon Aquino, was framing EDSA as the cure-all to the problems of the Filipino people. The government’s subsequent failure to comprehensively address the country’s problems produced many Filipinos who now look upon a liberal democracy (that’s “liberal” with a lowercase “l,” not a capitalized “L.” wink, wink) as a giant failure.
While the Marcoses continue to command a solid base of corrupt, uninformed, and/or misinformed revisionists who glorify Martial Law as the “golden age” of the Philippines, the facts indicate that authoritarian dictatorships destroyed not only the economy, but also the lives of thousands of Filipinos.
(READ: “TORTYUR: Human Rights Violations During The Marcos Regime,” Xiao Chua)
Thus, it has become easier for those who wish to dismantle democracy to come to power using the people’s mandate, no less – a new fascism under the guise of legitimate “democracy.”
In a time when anti-democracy forces prepare to dismantle all the democratic rights and freedoms that we hold dear, then it falls upon us as a people to collectively fight back and defend what our elders earned with their blood, sweat, tears, and lives.
“[The] Philippines is hardly a genuine democracy, given how a fairly coherent and small oligarchy has been dominating the country’s political and economic landscape for more than a century. In this sense, what is needed is neither a bloody revolution nor autocratic role — both of which can go very wrong, as past experiences show — but instead a gradual, systematic reform towards substantive democracy, where citizens can truly benefit from actual freedom from fear, hunger, and injustice. “
REFERENCES / LITERATURE:
- “New ‘party’ Kilusang Pagbabago formed to protect Duterte“, Rappler
- “Safeguarding our democratic space“, BusinessWorld
- “The plan to make the Philippines a socialist state“, Francisco Tatad – Manila Times
- “Duterte’s main political party breaking apart?“, Philippine Star
- “IN NUMBERS: The Philippines’ ‘war on drugs’“, Rappler
- “Taguiwalo: I will stay in Duterte Cabinet despite Marcos burial“, Rappler
- “Ocampo, Maza share NP senatorial slate with Bongbong Marcos”, GMA News
- “Philippines: Communist Rebels Target Civilians“, Human Rights Watch
- “Ex-Red groups tag Makabayan party-lists as CPP fronts, seek their disqualification“, GMA News
- “Duterte creates Office of Participatory Governance“, ABS-CBN News
- “LUTONG MACOY Philippine Elections under the Marcos Regime, Comparisons and Lessons for Today“, Xiao Chua – academia.edu
- “The End of Philippine Democracy?“, Huffington Post
- “Philippine Strongman Rodrigo Duterte Revives Memories of Ex-Dictator Marcos“, Wall Street Journal
- “The truth about the economy under the Marcos regime“, BusinessWorld
- “#NeverAgain: Martial Law stories young people need to hear“, Rappler
- “TORTYUR: Human Rights Violations During The Marcos Regime“, Xiao Chua – academia.edu
- “Don’t compare Trump and Duterte – the Philippines leader is far worse“, The Guardian