[Commentary] Permit for illusion?


It’s dolled up as  “permit to campaign”.  In remote Northern Luzon outposts  or Mindanao backwaters, candidates cough up cash for a clearance,  from armed  groups, before they  pitch for  votes.

“The permit is exchanged  for a cash “contribution” to the kilusan ( movement) ,” wrote  Inquirer’s Randy David. “”( That’s ) a cryptic reference to… the Communist Party and New People’s Army…But some may  be no more than extortionists, posing as revolutionaries…”
NPA North Central Mindanao Regional Command spokesman” apologized for their attack on 78-year old Gingoog Mayor Ruth de  Lara- Guingona and companions. Self defense, he claimed,  and  repeated warnings against armed escorts.  “There’s no mention of the permit-to-campaign fee”, David writes.  “But…that is what this is about.”
The assault came at an.NPA  roadblock collecting “revolutionary taxes”, Inquirer’s Conrad de Quiros wrote  Fine,  if you accept  NPA  has every right   to mount checkpoints to fleece  candidates. “The NPA calls it tax, everybody else calls it extortion”.
There is  only one government and one president,  ( former Vice President and Foreign Secretary ) Teofisto  Guingiona said. “That’s not the NPA”. Understandably, TG  is unforgiving of the NPA.  Laudably, he  looks beyond retribution. “It is only when we have a genuine peace agreement  that we can move forward.”
Peace talks resumed in Norway 2011 —  six years after they  broke down  The Olso negotiations aim at ending  the “longest-running Maoist insurgency in the world.” Diana Rodriguez and Soliman M. Santos, Jr wrote in their 2010   book “Primed and Purposeful.”
Armed clashes, across almost five  decades left 4,745 killed and injured 1,534, incomplete tallies claim. Most were civilians. And 1.2 million became refugees.. Bogged down in strategic defense of it’s ‘protracted people’s war’, the Reds  never achieved a “great leap forward” of mass adherents, Rodriguez and Soliman add.
Will  events on the ground  outpace the Oslo initiative?
NPA still  reels  from  paranoid  purges of the late 80s Over 1,400 were slaughtered, from ‘Cadena de Amor’, in Bicol-Quezon zone, in 1982 to “ Olympia ” in Metro Manila in 1989. A “Cannibal Revolution” devoured its own children, noted Inquirer (Jan. 2, 2004 )  “Remains of comrades” killed without pretense of trials molder today in unmarked graves, reminiscent of Cambodia ‘s “killing fields.
Some NPA  executioners today are button-down executives in Metro Manila offices. “The Party already condemned the abuses,” wrote Anne Buenaventura of the party’s information bureau to Inquirer. .But  it  shredded names of the victims and location of their graves.
From it’s peak in the 1980s, CCP ‘withered and splintered”, Australian National University’s Benedict J. Tria Kerkvliet wrote in  the “Philippine Human Development Report”. Weakened by internal pogroms, an CCP evaluation confirms “ideological superficiality.                x”
Mindanao’s communism party building was notably weak…Communist ideology is part of leaders’ vocabulary …But even among students, analytical sophistication and ideological understanding was inadequate…Cadre training was limited, never systematic.
Lack of ideological cohesion and policy  disagreements, after “People Power” toppled  the Marcos  dictatorship,  “contributed to splits and splits-within-splits” in the CCP into the 2000s. That trigged clones of  Luzon pogroms. Hundreds died and chaos rocked the party.
Studies in Mindanao, Negros, Nueve Ecija or Cordillera  show  a large majority of guerrillas and supporters “have neither been CPP members, believers in communism nor seekers of a communist run state….
“Their framework in most NPA  areas is systematic oppression of the many  by a few in Philippine society. And they speak in terms of  “no rich and no poor”, rights to land and decent human living conditions.
“In recent years, some analysts find that the guerrilla organization has become a kind of business enterprise. ( It ) sells protection in exchange for money and other compensation. Customers  include corporations, gambling and drug syndicates, government agencies  and large landowners…
Some “NPAs are akin to employees who receive  monthly wages. Local NPA leaders  (resemble) branch managers. And high  NPA  officials are the enterprise’s central managers and  board members.”  Kerkvliet   urges further studies into this corrosion.  But there is hard  and repeated evidence of  cash for permits to campaign.
Conflict-weary Filipinos make up a constituency for peace, PulseAsia says. Out of every 100 respondents, 35 cited “peace in the country as an urgent national concern. That ranked up there, with inflation (45%) and graft (36%).                        Time and history have moved on. Communism as an ideology has collapsed. “It is glorious to be rich,” Den Ziao Peng said. Rebel  leaders Jose Maria Sison  and  Luis Jalandoni ( a Dutch citizen )  are in their  late   70s. They wage   “revolution”  by fax, then Internet,  now by twitter and Facebook  from Holland..
Their  contact, let alone control over NPA units in backwaters here , are tenuous at best . Few NPA units would  carry  their signatures on “permits to campaign”.  JoMa’s  ill-disguised  bid is  to sit down with  President Aquno, one on one, as MILF leader Mohagher Iqbal did. This  is illusion at it’s most  intense.
“In Europe, only two communists are left,” the late Indonesian editor Sumono Mustoffa mused over coffee. “Both are Filipinos.”