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The Communist Party is dying of old age

By Rigoberto Tiglao / The Manila Times

AND I mean both: as a failed revolutionary organization and in terms of its leaders. The party is 52 years old, nearly four decades more than the average 15 years it took successful revolutionary organizations elsewhere to grab state power.

The party's founder Jose Ma. Sison is 82 – his life obviously extended by the comforts and health services of the Netherlands. Only Sison is left among the original dozen or so central committee members, all of whom but two – Kumander Dante and former party chairman Rodolfo Salas - died violently in their youth or of old age. Its core of idealistic young people, who built it up in 1970, are all now past 70 years old.

Its last known chairman, Julius Giron, who was killed last year, was 69 years old. He had replaced the captured Benito Tiamzon, 68 years. From a party of young idealistic students barely out of their teens, the party is now a party of septuagenarians.

As happened in failed revolutions, there is no capable second generation of leaders that has emerged. Those who would have had the intellect to lead the revolution, have instead chosen to be party-list representatives reveling in public attention and enjoying taxpayers' money as "congressmen."

The party has become pathetic, as the baby boomers that led it are apparently unaware, they are in the twilight of their lives, and there is no proletarian heaven where they can be with Lenin and Mao. Many are unable to live with their grown-up children who detest them for having abandoned them to their grandparents, or fear being involved with a fugitive from the law.

Those who have become useless to the party because of old age and sickness find themselves without "retirement" pay, and of course no savings, as the organization's sources of funding from loggers and miners in the 1970s ad telecom firms have dried up. There are no homes for the elderly for retired cadres.

While I detest this organization for the crimes it has and continues to commit against the nation, I still felt a tinge of sadness reading recently of the death of three communist leaders I had met when I was still with the organization.

Antonio Cabanatan and his wife Florenda Yap were killed back in November although it was only announced – as no relatives claimed his body and of his wife – in March when the military found out who he was. "Tonycab" was 74, his wife 65. The police claimed they were killed by burglars. The party claimed they were tortured and killed by the military, and they had "retired" from the organization in 2017. Cabanatan was nearly legendary in Central Visayas in the 1970s. He was a hunchback five feet tall, yet was an agile NPA commander.

The other day the military announced the killing - also in the Visayas, which appears to be the dwindling epicenter of the communist insurgency - of Rey Bocala and former priest Rustico Tan, known to have been ranking communist leaders but which the party claimed had already retired; Bocala was 75, Tan, 80 years.

Revolutionary organizations are living organisms, having their periods of youth and adulthood. After that, they either die if they lose to the government, or if they win, they transform into a different entity, the core of governments.

Lenin joined the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party in 1901: in 17 years, he was in power. The Chinese Communist Party fought for 22 years to win power in 1949. Fidel Castro's guerrillas toppled the Batista regime in six years. The Vietnamese Workers Party fought for 16 years, even against the most powerful nation on earth, the US, and won in 1975. The longest running Marxist revolutionary organization has been the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia which emerged in 1964. It entered into a peace agreement with the government only in 2013, and in 2017 ceased to be an armed group.

Sison's Communist Party has been organizing and killing Filipinos for 52 years. Can't these communists find some sanity left in their brains to realize they are defeated, and have become a zombie organization, surviving because the past four administrations had given it hope? Aren't the 50,000 Filipinos they slaughtered on the altar of the failed god communism enough?

If Sison were to find in his heart a shred of patriotism and morality or in his mind an ember of reason, he should call for the disbandment of the party, or at least the total cessation of its armed struggle. The old 1950s leaders of the old pro-Soviet Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas did.

Spare the lives of young people who you know will only die in some godforsaken jungle or in prisons while you enjoy the affluence of Utrech, Mr. Sison.


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