FOR the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA) insurgency, the commentary of Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. on Friday, October 23 in The Manila Times must have been a double-bladed whammy.
On the one hand, it did a lot by way of clarifying matters for the beleaguered Liza Soberano, who was widely blasted by netizens for speaking her mind against women and children in a webinar conducted by the Gabriela party-list. It would appear that public outrage over this party’s recruitment of innocent young girls for eventual integration into the NPA has grown so far and wide so that Liza’s mere participation in a Gabriela virtual forum was reason enough for her to be tagged a communist already.
The gentleman that he is, General Parlade appeared unable to resist a seizure of chivalry for the beauteous lady. I thought I saw a Sir Walter Raleigh who, seeing Queen Elizabeth 1st about to step on mire, swept his cloak off his shoulders and spread it over the muddy spot for the queen to continue her regal gait unperturbed by filth.
“Let’s not red-tag Liza Soberano,” said Parlade in his commentary. “It’s not fair to her. She is merely supporting advocacy for women’s rights. Is she an NPA? No, of course not. Not yet. So, let’s help educate her and other celebrity targets of Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (Makibaka), the underground organization hiding under Gabriela.”
But the problem for the CPP/NPA is that in his earnest desire to sway Liza away from the possibility of integration into the rebel movement, the general had to make disclosures of NPA evils otherwise quite unknown to the public, much less to the girl.
Parlade wrote, “Ka Shane, in her interview, revealed how she was raped in the organization which she believed respected women and LGBT rights. What our people don’t know is that sexual molestation, rape and assault are happening, not only against lady red fighters, but also against men, who are raped by their gay NPA cadres.”
There goes the double whammy. Not only has the CPP/NPA lost another potential pretty recruit but has also been exposed for sex perversion prevalent in its camp.
If you ask me, Parlade’s exposé is what you might call a modern-day revelation of what actually has been CPP/NPA moral decadence from way back when.
In 1989, during a meeting of the CPP Politburo, one whom I knew was a member of the powerful body, kept to his lonesome on the stairway leading to the second-floor sala where his comrades were deliberating on something. Just to keep the guy company, I sat behind him.
“Bakit hindi ka sumama sa kanila (Why are you not joining them)?” I asked, gesturing upward.
”Sila-sila na lang ‘yun (They’re all to themselves),” he replied lamely.
There was deep sadness in his voice, and when he looked at me, his eyes conveyed an imploring, some deep-seated plea for understanding, for succor or help in one moment of desperation, I couldn’t quite place the emotion, but in any case, I thought here was a man appearing having gone deeply contrite. His lips nearly quivering with what exquisite inner pain, he smiled faintly, plucked a bullet from the magazine that was tucked in his back pocket and handed it to me.
No words needed to be said, He was giving me the bullet as a souvenir.
Days after that evening, the N2 chief of the NPA would reveal to me what that Politburo meeting was all about: Judgment Day for that guy for charges of sexual molestation of male combatants of the rebel army. The information made me understand the message the guy was trying to tell me, that he would no longer be visiting my place, that that would be the last of the meeting of the politburo he would be attending, because as the N2 chief would disclose, he would thenceforth be demoted to mere lowly cadre.
During the memorial for that guy in 2018, here are words from one eulogizing speaker: “Like any cadre determined to fight the enemy and learn lessons from the process of fighting, he scored achievements and had his own share of errors and weaknesses, which he overcame through the process of criticism and self-criticism. In accordance with principles and the facts, he promptly admitted and actively corrected mistakes and shortcomings. Thus, his revolutionary merits far outweigh his demerits.”
An admission of guilt nonetheless, you might say. And in sex offenses, contrition by the offender no matter how deep and sincere, won’t bring back the chastity and honor of the offended.
In exceptional cases when the molester proves upright after all by offering to marry the molested, sexual exploitation is ideologically deodorized to the term “liberalism.” And for the couple, all’s well that ends well — that is, after they get out of the rebellion and find their bearings back in the fold of the law. One comrade, a female, got out early enough to finish a law course, be a trial judge and has now risen to the top echelon of the country’s judiciary.
She calls me “Uro,” as she did in the good ole days of idealistic struggle. By that she strikes up a wisdom: “Everything that happened is part of what I am today. They will never change.”
But as far as Parlade is concerned, better for all youth to be spared the rigors and horrors and terrors of a never-ending protracted people’s war. They will get out of the quagmire sooner or later after all, why get in at all?
As a final plea to Liza, Catriona and all else in imminent danger of being sucked into the Sisonite insurgency, Parlade has this to say: “Liza Soberano there’s a still chance to abdicate that group. If you don’t, you will suffer the same fate as that of Josephine Anne Lapira @Ella, former Deputy Secretary General of Gabriela Youth of UP Manila and defender of women’s rights, even against sexual predators among her comrades in the NPA unit she joined which is clearly stated in her handwritten letter addressed to a certain Emil. It’s a pity she learned about nonsense things like nabbing a firearm, NPA machismo and sexual exploitation while already inside the underground. It was too late, she is dead.”
I took pains researching that letter and got this result:
“Kumusta? Wala ako masyadong makekwento pa. He he. ‘Yan pa rin ang mga gawain dito. Mejo naiba lang dahil naaangkop sa sitwasyong militar. Pero marami pa ring masa na nakakausap at naoorganisa.
“Tinuruan ako ng isang kasama na mag-arnis, umagaw ng baril at iba pang self-defense. Mahaba na kwentuhan at kulitan namin dito. He he. Lagi nilang sinasabi na mataray ako. Ha ha. Dahil nagpupuna ako palagi sa mga macho nilang joke o pahayag. May isang kasama pa rito na nagdrawing ng malaswang picture ng babae! Nasungitan ko talaga sila lalo’t walang umamin tas nakangisi pa. Pero nagsabe rin naman yung gumawa kaya okay na.
“Ayan na lang muna. Maghahanda ako para sa detachment. 🙂 Miss pa rin kita.
After this letter, next we hear about Ka Ella is that she died in an encounter with government troopers.