Part One: Unmasking the communist lawfare
THERE is so much resistance to the Anti-Terrorism Law (ATL), as this is currently being heard in the Supreme Court, where 37 petitions have been filed for its discontinuance. As a keen observer and researcher of this communist insurgency, I can readily and confidently deduce why this is so.
In my 34 years in the active service, I have not seen the security sector address the issue on terrorist financing seriously because it is a very tedious and complicated process. If it did, I can say that it hardly made a dent in the effort to stop the flow of funds to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and its allied organizations.
In fact, there has been a dearth of information on how the CPP generates its resources, locally or internationally. We hear speculations and see some captured documents such as those from Agaton Topacio, Julius Giron, etc., but these came too late.
One of the major reasons why this fund generation activity of the CPP went unchecked is because of the absence of an enabling law to punish violators. The Terrorist Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012 (Republic Act 10168) was of course there, but this hardly addressed CPP financing.
This is because until the passage of the ATL, and the subsequent designation of the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization, we neither had the resolve to declare these CPP members as criminals, nor did we have the guts to dispute their claim that they are legitimate members of legal organizations.
Indeed, membership in the CPP is not unlawful with the repeal of the Anti-Subversion Law, and yet none of these CPP members among the Makabayan bloc (Kamatayan bloc is what I will always call them) at the House will admit it. Why? Precisely because they know that what the CPP does underground is all illegal. They want to remain what they are now — a front for the CPP.
In the early part of 2019, we initiated this effort to unmask the true nature of the CPP in the international arena. It was a bold attempt to counter all the programs of Jose Ma Sison’s International League of People’s Struggle or ILPS.
In our engagements with the different members of the European Union in Brussels, Frankfurt, Oslo, Madrid, Paris and Utrecht, we were baffled by the scorching reality that we discovered. All of these foreign governments continue to treat Sison as a political asylum seeker, despite the EU’s declaration that the CPP is a terrorist organization.
We would be asked by the foreign ministers and their representatives the question: We have declared the CPP a terrorist organization but on your end, what have you done? Has the Philippine government passed a law criminalizing membership in terrorist organizations, albeit the CPP?
That dilemma kept hounding us, members of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict or NTF-ELCAC, until the passage of this ATL. Now we can tell the diplomatic world, we have done our part, what’s next for you?
But in order for the readers and all stakeholders in these issues to understand what’s at stake or how much is at stake here, we need to expose how huge this CPP fund scam is.
So far, we know of the billions the CPP-NPA gets from extortion activities through their Rebolusyonaryong Buwis sa Kalaban na Uri or RBKU. Take note that these contractors, politicians, businessmen, while they are being mulcted for huge sums of money on a regular basis, are still considered kalaban (enemy). This is the reason their equipment is burned once they refuse to pay an increase in the extortion money.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines has been consolidating reports on the amount of money the CPP-NPA have collected and it runs into billions annually. But what we did not know about where the other funds come from will shock you, and this is the reason why the allies of these CPP wants this ATL stopped.
During one of these engagements in Brussels, we asked our ambassador to Belgium, the indefatigable Ed de Vega if we could meet the Belgian foreign ministry officials while waiting for our main mission then, which was the United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappeared Persons in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Our request was granted and to make a long story short, it was in that meeting where the Belgian officials declared to us the existence of 12 Belgian NGOs in the Philippines. An official report was in fact transmitted earlier to the Philippine embassy on this. We also learned during that meeting that the Belgian government was about to release some 15 million euros to these organizations for a period of three years. That should have been a welcome piece of news but wait.
Let’s take a look at these organizations and their local conduits in the Philippines.
A cursory check of the list handed to us in that roundtable talks revealed the layers of organizations of the CPP benefiting from the funds. On top of the list is Gabriela and Karapatan, which are being supported through the Belgian NGO Viva Salud. Great, but aren’t these the same organizations that’s pushing our children to become NPA members?
Remember my warning to Liza Soberano about being careful in dealing so much with Gabriela-Youth, whose members include Josephine Ann Lapira@Ella, Rona Jane Manalo@Ren, Justine Ella Vargas@Star and Camille Manangan, to name a few of them who ended up dead with the NPA? Isn’t Karapatan the same organization that has been bailing out NPA leaders captured all over the country?
We have official government receipts of bail bonds paid by Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Secretary General Honey Mae Suazo to bail Elizalde Canete, a notorious CPP- NPA leader in Davao who was later wounded and captured by the troops. The same Karapatan bailed out Fred Cania in Negros.
A regional staff of Karapatan-Southern Tagalog, Glendyl Malabanan, was also captured with the NPA terrorists in Roxas, Palawan. This is the same Karapatan led by Cristina Palabay, who is now leading a rally against the ATL in the high court.
But why? That’s the billion-peso question I would like to answer in my next piece. I will also try to review historical data on how the CPP sustained this revolution through their European backers.
Contesting the Constitutionality of the Law
ON the first day of the Supreme Court hearing on the petition against the Anti-Terrorism Law, we saw several interest groups trying their best to contest the constitutionality of the law. To be clear and unless we still don’t know it, this is the beauty of our democratic system. We are free to argue the merits of our case, and that is something that we cannot do in a fascist government.
Still, critics accuse the current government as being the same as Marcos’ martial law. The Left has never left that narrative more than three decades after the strongman was deposed. On that point, I would like to continue my piece from where I left off last time.
The propaganda machinery of the CPP is immensely organized and entrenched in almost all sectoral organizations in our society. In the Senate hearing on red tagging, the NTF-ELCAC presented an intricate network of organizations and a web of media/alter media sites that are used to propagate lies, fake news, and propaganda materials to arouse, organize and mobilize (AOM) young children, women, labor and peasant sectors.
This is the same network that they use to feed its European audience with garbage about the alleged tyranny that’s happening in our country. To what end? To generate sympathy and the millions of euros that goes with it.
This scam that the CPP-NPA-NDF has concocted is not new. The document “Financing a Revolution: The NPA’s European Backers” reports the arrest of two Europeans returning from a solidarity “visit” to an NPA camp on June 8, 1988.
One was a West German Protestant minister by the name Klaus Schmitt and a certain Stellan Hermansson, the head of the Swedish Communist Party youth group who led a violent riot against Nancy Reagan in 1987 during her visit to Stockholm.
The document identified three key multinational centers based in Europe, with close ties to Soviet capabilities, which set into motion the earlier creation of the CPP/NPA: the World Council of Churches of more than 300 churches in 100 countries; the Jesuits and other promoters of the “theology of liberation” within the Catholic Church; and a broad layer of nonchurch political forces from the extreme left (Green Party) and various anarchist-terrorist organizations.
I will go back to this church infiltration by the Soviet-bloc communists, using their European congregations, primarily to drive the US bases from the Philippines and eventually out of Asia. This is an important segment of this narrative especially after the controversy on the unilateral abrogation of the UP-DND agreement.
This will explain the uproar of the Catholic Educators Association of the Philippines (CEAP) on the inclusion, again, of their schools in the list targeted by the CPP for infiltration. They are in continuous denial of this infiltration of their schools but not only is this corroborated by the recovered documents from Vicente Ladlad and Adelberto Silva, both of the central committee of the CPP, but is also contained in several literature culled as early as 1954.
These church and non-church organizations, according to the investigative report, overlap and interface with the CPP-NPA overseas revolutionary work (ORW) administered by the National Democratic Front. ORW is the precursor of the international solidarity work run by the international department of the CPP led by Jose Ma. Sison in Utrecht.
He is currently chairman emeritus of the International League of Peoples Struggles (ILPS), which now has 140 organizations all over the world with 16 global chapters. This is the same network that provides false narratives about the Philippines’ human rights situation, “taktikang bakwit,” Save Our Schools (SOS), Salugpungan alternative learning centers, Lakbay Lumad or Manilakbayan, and now these alleged killing of activists.
Project proposals for funding are regularly sent by these local CPP conduits to their European backers, who then send outrageous sums of money to finance the revolution, using advocacies like defending human rights, promoting free speech, fighting for the oppressed, as their cover.
The domestic sources of CPP-NPA funding traditionally come from the mining industry, contractors, small businessmen, quarrying, transport, telcos and others. From 2008 to 2020 the CPP generated P9.2 billion but in 2017 alone, the RBKU of the CPP generated a staggering P4.1billion. A huge portion of this came from construction projects where contractors have to pay a permit to operate (PTO) of P1,000 for every million worth of project and demandable even before the project starts.
With all this money they are able to invest in radio stations, hospitals, stock market trading domestically and abroad, and revolutionary war bonds. If you think this money is big imagine that in 2011 alone, the CPP’s Community Empowerment Resource Network (Cernet) was able to generate some P6.7 billion from their approved project proposals.
That is a huge amount of money which if channeled to the armed struggle can really spell disaster. The rule of thumb is 60 percent of these funds are taken by the party and only 40 percent spent for the intended project. The good thing though is that not all of the 60 percent of the monies go to the NPA, which is really the complaint of former rebels who have surrendered but stays with the party and all these organizations it is supporting, both legal and underground.
This explains, in short and simple terms, the opposition of many of these CPP front organizations to the Anti-Terror Law. The Supreme Court affirmation of the law will essentially cut all this funding that they have been enjoying from their European backers.
(To be continued)
Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. is commander of the AFP Southern Luzon Command (SolCom) and spokesman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.