Sat. Jan 29th, 2022

By (Ret.) Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr.

I recently traveled to Tagaytay, excited to meet some very important people who know much of the history of the underground movement of which they had been part for a very long time. All of them were members of the First Quarter Storm (FQS) and had been instrumental in that successful “experiment” which until today is creating all these problems that the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) is now addressing.

One of these people was a former secretary of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) Metro Manila and Rizal revolutionary party committee who later became a Cabinet secretary, a diplomat and a writer. He was a key player in the violence and chaos that transpired in Manila, the burning and bombing of power and water utilities, the US embassy, which all precipitated the declaration of martial law.

Another was a former vice chairman of a trade union, a hit man or sparu operator who was part of the group responsible for the Digoyo Point arms landing. He was also part of the group that planned the Plaza Miranda bombing, or knew firsthand the people behind it.

Speaking of the MV Karagatan arms landing, I also shared with them an article I read from the late senator Ernesto Maceda, who bragged about him and Ninoy Aquino meeting with Colonel Khadafi in Libya to ask for funding. In that discussion, Khadafi gave them $20 million which at the time was a huge amount. They used this money to reinforce Dante Buscayno’s fledgling New People’s Army (NPA) band of 27 fighters by buying those shiploads of arms from China.

Another was a former member of the CPP propaganda bureau, a movie director and a writer. All of them have their own stories to tell about how they fought the Philippine Constabulary at the picket lines and engaged them in a running gun battle and hot pursuit operation in the streets of Manila, which started with the dropping of the Marcos coffin in front of the US embassy.

All of them escaped Sison’s wrath after the CPP split, when the CPP founder ordered them killed.

Most of us met for the first time. They agreed to meet with me with the agenda of knowing about my strategy to succeed in this presidential race. I was interested in knowing more about how the CPP planned and carried out their tactics and what we have to do to put the final nail in the coffin of this dying organization.

A fourth attendee in that historic meeting was a scion of an important political figure during their times. He was my classmate, bunk mate and buddy at the academy when the ill fateful day — the killing of Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. happened at the NAIA tarmac on Aug. 21, 1983.

I am referring of course to one of our senatorial candidates Marine Maj. Ramon B. Mitra 3rd (Ret), the late senator Ramon Mitra’s son and namesake. I invited Monmon so that we could have a chat about common interests like farming, environmental protection and love for horses. As it turned out though, we found him deeply resentful about a lot of things he discovered that day.

Senator Mitra incidentally was one of those who suffered in the Plaza Miranda bombing. Had the third grenade not fell off the grandstand, it could have easily killed, if not maimed, Ramon Mitra, as well as more than half of the LP lineup. Apparently, that was the intent of Joma Sison, to annihilate the LP stalwarts while preserving Senator Ninoy who stood to benefit from that terrorist attack.

Based on their narration of events, the bombing was conceptualized by presenting the idea of creating a wedge between Marcos’ Nationalistas and the Liberals. Where there was none, they would create a revolutionary condition that could start a war between the two factions. That revolutionary situation would be catalyzed by bombing the LP miting-d-abanse at Plaza Miranda, in order to put the blame on Marcos.

Ordered by Jose Ma. Sison to secretly plan and carry out the bombing were three Kabataang Makabayan members. They would then be tried by a kangaroo court of nine members, three voting not guilty and six voting guilty for the crimes of Cordero et al. Ruben Guevarra and Prinsipe were part of that court.

On that fateful day of Aug. 21, 1971, Senator Aquino was to be isolated from the LP leaders at the stage, as he was with Speaker Jose B. Laurel to attend the debut of Lally Laurel, the eldest daughter of the speaker, in their ancestral house on Shaw Boulevard. Together with friends, they were glued to the television as they were waiting for the event to unfold.

Senatorial candidate Ramon Mitra then told the group that he had asked our former instructor Gen. Victor Corpus (PMA Class ’67) about his experiences in the NPA after he defected. Apparently, it was Victor Corpus who called Senator Aquino about the plan, which started to disillusion him when he found out from the senator that, yes, he knew about it.

All this time, Monmon Mitra had this strong hatred for the Marcoses, until he learned that the shrapnel wounds on his tatay’s body was the result of Senator Aquino’s treachery to his party.

I asked them if they could confirm that they were part of those “activists” who decided to go to the hills after the Plaza Miranda bombing and the subsequent declaration of martial law. Almost in chorus, they all said “no.” In fact they were not simply activists as they were all members of the Maoist, Leninist, Marxist party since 1967 and they were part of those who created that revolutionary condition.

In short, they admitted that they were not one of those who complained to have been “red-tagged” by the Marcos military because they were indeed Red, through and through. And likewise with those many other communists, whose names appear in the “Bantayog ng Kagitingan,” which was donated by the Lopezes.

Aha, so it is so true that these oligarchs have been funding all these efforts to immortalize those who fought the “strongman.” Not only did they fund this wall, but I wondered, did they also fund the P500 million and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR)?

To this they replied, “yes, of course.” CHR was another tool created to promote the publicity stunt to shield Sison and his stooges of all these killings they have orchestrated.

And one of them reminded me, in fact, that I failed to mention in my articles about the more than 1,000 NPA members they caged in a dugout area in Mindanao. They were suspected to be Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spies and were part of Oplan Ahos.

While waiting for their kangaroo court, the AFP got a tip about the presence of NPA members in the area. The place was bombed, and the NPA never released their captives, even after seeing the Philippine Air Force planes doing a bomb run in the area.

In short, hinayaan silang masunog na nakakulong. Wow, Joma. You really have a lot of explaining to do.

As we sat there by the rim of the lake, I told them about the area which used to be under my command as a Bn Commander. I had 54 towns and four cities, the entire Cavite province, three districts of Batangas, two districts of Laguna, and three districts of Quezon up to Mauban and Atimonan. As I sipped my coffee, I told them that it was in this area that I strategized to corner the huge band of the NPA.

Komprob Quezon then had a Panlabang Yunit Gerilya (PYG) of around 90 fighters, while the STRPC had a vertical force called Regional Yunit Gerilya (RYG) with around 120 fighters. These were the years from 2003 to 2005, and you can only imagine the tactical planning and maneuvers you would have to do to corner and engage this group as they traversed Mindoro, Batangas, Laguna and Quezon. Today I am proud to say that none of those groups exist anymore, the few remnants of which have decided to station themselves in the upper recesses of Mount Halcon and Mount Baco, far from the communities which used to support them.

Today, 20,000 of these fighters and supporters have surrendered to the NTF-Elcac since 2016, a feat that has never been done by five administrations combined.

Today the issue of NTF-Elcac funding will be a major topic for debate, especially for presidential aspirants and senatorial candidates who have been wanting for the abolition of the task force.

Today this issue of the oligarchs abetting the terrorists and contributing to the suffering and poverty of the common tao will be a major battleground in the upcoming debates.

I realize that this electoral process is akin to the protracted war of the CPP. The propaganda war has already begun with candidates throwing mud at each other. The more baggage you have, the harder it will be for you.

In the long haul, it will be a fight for endurance and not brute force. In war, protagonists sustain the fight with a robust combat train that follows the main effort. In irregular warfare these provisions could be well embedded behind the enemy lines, cached-in, or provided by the masses, totally off the radar of the opponents.

Matira ang matibay. Matitira ang mahusay.

Last week one candidate already dropped out of the race that had barely started. At the end of it all, people will decide to choose from among those left. And I tell you, the last man standing might not be a woman.

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