Thoughts on the arrest, 2

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Thursday, March 27, 2014


HERE are more thoughts on the arrest of Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria-Tiamzon, leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines:

--Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Chief Danilo Constantino raised the possibility that Benito, the alleged party chairman, and Wilma, the alleged secretary-general, were on R & R (rest and recreation) in Cebu. But there’s no such thing as R & R for CPP cadres, only R (rest) perhaps.

An official statement of the CPP (philippinerevolution.net) stated, however, that at the time of the arrest of the Tiamzons, “both were busy conducting first hand investigation into the conditions of the working class people in the Visayas region whose lives were devastated by super typhoon Yolanda.”

That could be true, although there are reports that the couple actually rented a house in Sangat, San Fernando as early as January last year. If that date is correct, then they were here even before Yolanda struck in November last year. Which is intriguing.

--That brings me to the point of “basing.” I read somewhere that during the split in the ‘90s between the Rejectionists (RJ), who were expelled from the CPP, and the Reaffirmists, who strengthened control over the entire party, the latter decided to transfer of the base of CPP leaders to the countryside instead of the urban areas.

That was among the lessons learned by the CPP leadership. Many of the arrests of party leaders in the history of the CPP were made in the urban areas. But the Tiamzons were based in a suburban area (San Fernando town), in Central Visayas’ main urban center (Cebu).

So what happened to the “basing” policy?

--The government raised the possibility of retaliatory action by the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed force of the CPP, specifically in Cebu. Yet it claimed that Cebu has long been insurgency-free.

It didn’t define “insurgency-free.” If by insurgency-free it means the lack of an armed force in Cebu, then it is correct. I think the CPP has reconsidered the decision in the ‘80s to wage an armed struggle in Cebu by putting up NPA units here. Those armed units have been disbanded.

That does not mean the organizing work has stopped. I reckon that some CPP cadres are still around “arousing, organizing and mobilizing” the farmers and workers and other classes and sectors. In this sense, the term “insurgency-free” can be considered a misdeclaration.

--Benito is 63 and Wilma is 62. CPP founding chair Jose Ma. Sison is 75 years old, while National Democratic Front (NDF) chair Luis Jalandoni is 79 years old. The cadres who saw the founding of the CPP on Dec. 26, 1968 and the NPA on March 29, 1969 (its 45th anniversary is tomorrow), are already senior citizens.

I recall a problem about this that surfaced in the late ‘80s in Bohol. One of the known NPA leaders in the province was Ka Vargas, who led a successful ambush against government troops at that time. He headed the NPA unit in Bohol for a few years until it became obvious that he had gotten old and lagged behind his young comrades with fresher legs.

He was therefore given another task as head of the training staff. But despite that, the issue of a “retirement plan” for old cadres still needed to be tackled.

Complicating matters was when the old cadre was kown to government forces, meaning that he or she could be arrested if he or she goes back to society’s mainstream or to his or her family.

I don’t know how that was resolved. I only heard later that Ka Vargas had left for Mindanao. Years later, he went back to Bohol and surrendered to the authorities there.

He is probably leading a peaceful life now as a retired cadre.

Now, how will the generation that Joma, et al belongs to “fade away”?

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 28, 2014.

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