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Farce if it is from Valbuena, 'red-tagged' if it is from me

By Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. / The Manila Times

LAST week, I wrote about the hundreds of New People's Army (NPA) rebels going back to the fold of the law just in the past two months. As if with prescience, Pete T. Arce Jr wrote in this paper about how the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is doomed to fail from the get-go. He spoke about the lack of counter-ideology being championed by the academe. This is what Simeon del Rosario also said in a monograph on Cardinal Sin. Civics and democracy were never allowed to take first base at the University of the Philippines, hence the dominance of Marxist, Leninist, Maoist teachings, which UP now erroneously describes as "academic freedom." What is more damaging is the assessment of former ambassador Bobi Tiglao about the CPP dying of old age. While the vanguards - like its founder Jose Ma Sison, who is now 82 -are falling one by one, there are no credible ideologues as replacement to the top leadership.

Speaking of CPP old guards, last week, government forces took down Rey Bocala, 75, and Rustico Tan, 80, in Negros. Philippine Revolution Web Central (PRWC) would confirm that National Democratic Front (NDF) Negros spokesman Concha Araneta is the spouse of Bocala. No wonder then that Concha Araneta was quite proud to declare the NDF's contribution to the armed struggle of at least 50 casualties from the Army and the police. Bocala and Tan, Concha claims, are consultants of the NDF. What she is saying is that they, too, were part of all the atrocities in the Visayas, and their old age is not an alibi for all those they ordered killed. Who cares now if they have been "red-tagged" by the CPP? No one. But wait until the government announces who else like them are part of the CPP.

In the summary report presented by the National Security Adviser and the National Task Force to End Local Conflict (NTF-Elcac) Vice Chairman Hermogenes Esperon Jr., almost 18,000 communist rebels and supporters have surrendered to the government from 2016 to May 2021. Some 3,684 of them are NPA regulars and 1,736 from the underground mass organizations. Another 2,789 are still undergoing validation and verification by the joint Armed Forces of the Philippines-Philippine National Police intelligence committee. Contrary to the accusations of CPP's Marco Valbuena that the military has invented names and personalities just to come up with fake surrenderees, there is a tedious process done by the joint intelligence committee to validate each and every one of these former rebels.

While the keen observers of this insurgency are all in agreement that this CPP insurgency is on the verge of collapse, the spokesman of the CPP, Valbuena. is quick to declare that all these figures about surrenders is a farce. Should we even believe that this person is real, when all his life has been dedicated to concocting lies and propaganda against the government? In his latest tirade, he wanted me to answer also to an allegation thrown by Karapatan and Valbuena against us - Secretary Esperon and PNP Chief Eleazar and myself - relative to the killing of Rommel Riza (@Jomar), leader of the Regional Sparu of Southern Tagalog. This is what we have been saying. It is not the government that has been "red-tagging" people and organizations allied with the CPP but themselves. The actions and the statements of the CPP only confirms what we know about these terrorists.

Bocala, Tan, Riza, etc. are reds. But they are dead not because they were "red-tagged." They are dead because they chose to wield arms and fight with the government. They are not activists or peace consultants. They had embraced violence for a long time, and it is only now that the long arm of the law has caught up with them.

Other "illegitimate activists" are still alive. They claim to have been "red-tagged," but they are alive because they chose to. Karapatan-Quezon executive secretary "Ka Gemma" has since surrendered and is in safe hands. Her boss, Karapatan national chairman Cristina Palabay is still alive, because she chose not to wield arms. Rep. Sara Elago is still around because it is her choice. Karapatan-Northern Mindanao Honey Mae Suazo is still there, though she is nowhere in sight because of her corruption problem with the CPP.

Karapatan-Palawan exec Gwendlyn Malabanan is alive, but in jail because of her choice. She was arrested while traveling with armed NPA rebels and evidence has been released of her involvement with her NPA comrades. Alexa Pacalda of Karapatan-Quezon is also in jail because it was her choice. She chose to retract her statements that she was part of the NPA when she briefly surrendered, until her colleague from the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL), lawyer Conti, intervened. Now her parents are crying for help because NUPL cannot help her with her case. We volunteered our assistance to help Alexa, a young victim of CPP deception, but she is adamant.

As to Ana Patricia Non, a legitimate activist, who did not start the original community pantry but is widely known for it because of her propaganda method, is still there, living in peace because she chose to. Her soul wielded vegetables and food instead of guns. So, is the NTF-Elcac right in responding to netizens calling our attention to the abnormal way some pantries were distributing food? Yes. Did we scare potential volunteers? No. Thousands more have sprouted but this time, without agitation and propaganda. Do the media still cover them? No, there is no need for it; it won't make news anymore.

What am I trying to say here? To the government and to the NTF-Elcac it is very clear who are terrorists and who are activists. It is easy to spot who does violence and who simply performs a legitimate exercise of his or her rights. There is nothing wrong with exercising them according to our laws.

What makes it difficult for others to understand that 'red-tagging' is not our cup of tea? They choose to make it hard. Thirty-two years of narrative by the left and the liberals made it stick. That defense mechanism of accusing the government of "red-tagging" will no longer sell. It is the CPP that is trying to restore the strength of this shield to cover its violent means, even capitalizing on the naiveté of some anti-communist allies of the NTF-Elcac in Congress.

As to the filing of cases against individuals involved in the violence by the communist terrorist groups, we simply await the proscription of these people and organizations. There are 1,736 of them who have "red-tagged" these organizations and individuals who have recruited them, and another 3,864 to corroborate their statements. That's a lot of living witnesses. This is why Valbuena is frantic in destroying the value that the statements of these former rebels will bring.


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