Digong’s war against the reds and yellows

By Perry Diaz
IN A COUNTRY where groups and organizations are identified by colors, two groups – the “reds” and the “yellows” – have taken center stage in the political arena.  On the side of the reds are the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army (NPA), and National Democratic Front (NDF).  On the yellow side are the Liberal Party (LP) and the “Yellow Army,” supporters of former president Benigno Aquino III. 
President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte, a self-styled socialist, believes that the reds and yellows are conspiring to topple his administration with the backing of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  It did not then come as a surprise when he made a bold move to rein them in, particularly the reds, which he recently tagged as “terrorists.”  But terrorists or not, the reds pose a grave threat to the nation’s security, which has been the case for the last four decades. 
Until now, the reds were treated as “rebels,” which gave them a semblance of legitimacy.  Not anymore.  They’re dangerous terrorists!  But aren’t rebels dangerous too?
It’s strange that Duterte who was once associated with the NPA when he was mayor of Davao City is now against them?  He was even quoted in a news article back in 2014, as saying he would forge a coalition government with leftists and Muslim separatists if elected president.  While it made the “progressives” happy, it made a lot of people nervous.
When Duterte was elected president, he had several “reds” appointed to key positions in his administration including four Cabinet positions.  Duterte’s decision to bring leftists into the inner circle of his government was praised by CPP Chairman and Founder Jose Ma. “Joma” Sison, who said: “It’s the first time ‘progressives’ will have a president as ally.”
Duterte also earned praise from Luis Jalandoni, Chairman of the National Democratic Front (NDF).  Jalandoni said that he welcomed Duterte’s gesture aimed at reviving peace talks with the communist rebels.  Jalandoni also confirmed that Duterte would grant general amnesty to 543 “political prisoners.”  There were even talks of forming a coalition government with the NDF-CPP-NPA.  That was then.

Last November 23, Duterte terminated the peace talks with the “reds,” citing the “rebels’ supposed failure to display sincerity to the peace process.”  “While we agreed to resume peace talks with the aforementioned group and exerted our best efforts to accelerate the signing and implementation of the final peace agreement, the NDF-CPP-NPA has engaged in acts of violence and hostilities,” he said.
Duterte vs. Sison
Sison reacted with a strongly worded statement, describing Duterte as a “consistent political swindler and demagogue who depends heavily on lying.” “Duterte does not mind being proven a big liar on the question of coalition government. He thinks that he can move on from success to success at political swindling, Sison said. “Now, he is being carried away by his obsession to establish a fascist dictatorship through charter change under the pretext of adopting a pseudo-federal system under his overcentralized despotism and terrorism,” he added. “As a president in a rush to become a fascist dictator, he (Duterte) expects to have limitless opportunities for bureaucratic corruption like his idol Marcos, especially in overpriced infrastructure projects, government purchases and cheap sale of raw materials,” the CPP founder also said. [Source: The Philippine Star]
In another news report, Duterte vowed to order the arrest of the “dying” Sison if he returns to the Philippines. “And if Joma Sison comes here, I will arrest him or if I were him, ‘wag na siyang bumalik dito (never come back here),” Duterte said in a speech before the San Beda College of Law annual alumni homecoming.  “Better still, I will not allow him to enter his native land and that is a very painful experience especially if you’re dying and you think na you should be buried in your own cemetery, in your own town,” he added.
But it was only last April when Duterte advised Sison to come home because he was “very sick.”  He promised Sison he won’t be arrested if he came home. But last November 24, a day after terminating the peace talks, Duterte once again vowed to arrest Sison if he returns home.  Why the sudden change of heart?
Revolutionary government
Surmise it to say, Duterte would most likely proclaim a revolutionary government soon, which he had wanted to do for sometime now. The only explanation why he hasn’t done it yet is because of the strong resistance from the military.  But by pitting the military against its longtime nemesis, the communists, Duterte could then convince the military to support a revolutionary government that excludes the ”reds.” 
In my column, “Revolutionizing martial law” (October 27, 2017), I wrote: “But President Duterte figures that by forming a revolutionary government, he can still avail of the military’s support, which is stacked up with loyalist Dutertistas, who would keep him – and themselves — in power.  And they’ll be part of a power structure that will protect their personal and business interests.  It’s a philosophy that keeps the few elite in power.
“Duterte’s idea of a revolutionary government can be traced to Marcos’ martial law regime.  Indeed, Duterte is taking a page from Marcos’ playbook.  It is ‘revolutionary’ in name only.  It is martial law disguised as revolutionary government. What Duterte is doing is revolutionizing martial law. It’s one and the same with one exception: Congress is left out of the power equation.  Indeed, it’s coup d’état against the democratic government he was elected to serve.”
If I remember it right, Marcos used “communist threat” as the main reason why he declared martial law.  He even had his Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile stage a fake ambush to justify the declaration of martial law. And it worked!
Today, Duterte is once again using “communist threat” to rally the military behind him.  And if he includes the “yellows” he could eliminate the political opposition just like Marcos did in 1972 when he imprisoned Ninoy Aquino and other Liberal Party leaders.  And if he plays his cards right, it’s déjà vu all over again.