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Duterte Wants to Grab Land Reform from the NPA

in Countercurrent

by PINKY ANG

On the 31st anniversary of the failed Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) last August, President Rodrigo Duterte spewed lies against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New Peoples’ Army (NPA). Preening before the media while giving out Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOA), he boasted he would finish the CPP-NPA-led revolution.

But this put-on picture—Duterte distributing CLOA < click >, Duterte tough-talking on Hacienda Luisita < click >, Duterte feigning concern for the future generation caught in the armed conflict < click >, Duterte promising land reform alongside crushing the 50-year people’s war < click, click >—is phony and old (he isn’t the first president to pose for it). It also defies logic and history.

Save for a fleeting period when he was talking peace with the communists, Duterte has done nothing but the opposite of land reform and national industrialization.

On the verge of signing with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) what would have been a landmark agreement to redistribute land for free all over the country, he scuttled the talks in 2017. Since then, he has made no bones in taking the well-worn path of his most despotic predecessors in Malacañang.

No Philippine president in history has truly implemented land reform nor attempted to jumpstart national industrialization spurred by a genuine land reform program. On the contrary, their so-called land reform programs sought only to placate the masses even as land remained in the hands of a few. From the bitter experiences of peasants, every land reform program by the Government of the Philippines had more loopholes than grounds to actually distribute land. And even when some eventually got distributed, it somehow got back soon enough to landlords.

Duterte merely continued the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program begun under former Corazon Aquino. Despite decades and a succession of presidents and CARP extensions, it is still far from attaining 100-percent distribution of its already narrowed target. Under Duterte, distribution is at the slowest, poorest pace.

DAR records show that the Duterte administration, in its first three years in office, was able to distribute to farmer-beneficiaries only 91,776 hectares of agricultural landholdings. That’s an average of 30,592 hectares a year. His land acquisition and distribution (LAD) pace was only 8% of that of the Fidel Ramos administration in its first three years. Ramos was top performer among the previous presidents.

Here are the comparative LAD accomplishments of Duterte’s predecessors in the first half of their terms:

  • Corazon Cojuangco Aquino: distributed 452,074 hectares from 1988 to 1990, or 150,691 hectares a year;
  • Ramos: distributed 1,113,019 hectares from 1992 t0 1994, an average of 371,006 hectares annually;
  • Joseph Estrada: distributed 379,905 from 1998 to 2000, or 126,635 yearly;
  • Gloria Arroyo: distributed 313,778 hectares from 2001 to 2003, averaging 104,593 hectares per year;
  • B.S. Aquino III: distributed 320,916 hectares from 2010 to 2012, or 106,972 hectares each year.

Data: Dept. of Agrarian Reform land distribution accomplishment in 2016 to June 2019 is 2,920 hectares on average per month under Duterte,

less than the July 2010 to 2015 monthly average of 8,254 has. reported by DAR under Noynoy Aquino;
9,407 has. under Arroyo in January 2001 to June 2010,
and 11,113 has. monthly average under Estrada.

There is a raging armed revolution in the Philippines because peasants and the basic masses, including sections of the middle class and local small capitalists, thirst for land reform. They yearn for the greater prosperity of industrialization that genuine land reform will naturally stimulate, and for the assured just distribution and sustainability of this prosperity because of the socialist perspective of the national democratic revolution being waged by the CPP-NPA-NDFP.

Over the years, the masses especially the poor peasants have been supporting and joining the NPA because they have seen in its programs and its achievements the solutions to feudal and imperialist oppression. This is the movement that truly promises and will deliver thoroughgoing change for the better.

Duterte is striking a very wrong stance with his CLOA distribution and counterrevolutionary war cries. His threat to crush the people’s democratic revolution is a threat to derail developments in actual land reform being implemented by the peasant-based NPA. It’s a threat as well to delay the country’s national industrialization. This is not acceptable to the Filipino masses who continue to suffer a life of misery under the landlord-comprador and imperialist puppet presidents including Duterte.

Another president who posed with CLOAs amid counterrevolutionary war cries was Joseph Estrada. In Bondoc Peninsula, after a series of successful NPA tactical offensives there 20 years ago, he vowed to crush the revolution movement. He became the second president to be ousted through the people’s peaceful direct action.

“WHOLE OF NATION” AS MARTIAL LAW UNDERCOVER?

By this time, as commander-in-chief, Duterte has already issued one too many orders— declaring and thrice extending martial law in the whole of Mindanao; declaring a state of emergency to quell “lawless violence” and issuing Memo 32 to deploy more troops in Samar, Negros island and Bicol; utilizing the so-called “whole-of-nation” approach that harnesses the entire government (national and local) plus civil society organizations in a bid to end the 50-year armed conflict. Clearly though, his actions contradict his boasts against the CPP, which his government shrilly tries to demonize and misrepresent as a puny force being deserted by droves of supposed surrenderers.

But, like the failed land reform program, Duterte’s “whole-of-nation” approach is just another war plan his predecessors have long applied and failed on. It is like the wolf appropriating the voice of the innocent so it can freely enter homes to devour and kill.

Duterte is turning the entire government bureaucracy including civilian sectors into a counter-revolutionary surveillance and black propaganda factory. Its services are being deployed to feed into the coercive military and police troops cracking down on legal democratic mass organizations, and their allies here and abroad. While this government is raining bombs and lies, it is restraining flow of information about the revolutionary movement. It is banning media interviews and coverage of revolutionary groups.

Duterte is trying to revive the monsters of Marcos’s martial law, but not quite succeeding at muzzling the freedom of association and freedom of the press. He goes all-out with K-12 miseducation that’s washing off traces of patriotism and prompts for critical thinking among the youth. All the while he is pushing for military partnership with schools to abet surveillance and intimidation of critical students and teachers.

PR-labeling all these as “whole-of-nation approach,” Duterte dreams about finishing off the CPP-led revolution but only through a one-sided, reality-defying, blood-drenched misrepresentation of life on the ground.

For this brutal fantasy, his office wants to double its intelligence budget to P4.5 billion in 2020, or bloat it to half as big as the total budget of the Office of the President. His minions in Congress seek to add more teeth to the anti-terror law they euphemistically call as Human Security Act. His regime and the US government have agreed to locate a regional training center for combating insurgency and “terrorism” in Cavite. The military consistently receives from the US technical and intelligence support, training and equipment for countering the revolutionary groups.

Yet, amid the Duterte regime’s one-sided diatribes against the CPP-NPA, some truths still inadvertently emerge. Some from his own big mouth. Duterte himself can’t deny the public support for the communist revolutionaries.

After all, he wooed the Filipino voters into electing him president by cultivating appearances of being friendly to the CPP- NPA. His campaign ploy has confirmed that candidates gain popularity by calling themselves “leftist” or “socialist”; by promising peace talks with the communists; and by taking up issues articulated by or identified with the Left. For example, the call to assert Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea vis-à-vis China’s aggressive intrusion into and grabbing of maritime areas within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zones.

Past presidents and presidential candidates publicly pretended to ignore the existence of revolutionary mass bases in the countryside, even when they were impelled to engage in peace talks. They fumed whenever “security concerns” delayed their visits to some locales, when candidates can’t simply enter guerrilla zones. They evaded disclosing the fears expressed by multinational corporations over another government operating clandestinely in the Philippines, which, unlike the reactionary government, calls them to task for their plunder and rights violations.

Perhaps Duterte, who claims to know a lot about the revolutionaries, panicked after he realized that the neocolonial institution he leads wouldn’t tolerate his slight deviation from the usual conduct of puppet presidents. Or, perhaps as a true neocolonial leader of landlord and comprador class (albeit with lesser money in his hands?) he panicked at his first-hand confirmation of the depth and breadth of the Left’s mass support.

Whatever, even when he was firmly following the tradition of imperialist puppetry of those who got to become temporary residents of Malacañang, he still inadvertently slips up, revealing in his ramblings the good things the CPP-NPA have been doing. For example, land reform.

But it would be political suicide for Duterte, or for any local government executive and for the AFP, to say outright that he is against land reform. To “win hearts and minds” and bar more people from supporting the revolutionaries, Duterte and his cohorts have to put deceiving masks to their war plans.

NPA: THE TRUE ARMY OF THE PEOPLE PUSHING FOR GENUINE LAND REFORM

The NPA is largely a peasant army. Its support and troops mainly come from the poor peasants who comprise about 70 percent of the Philippine society. As the army of the revolutionary people led by the CPP, the NPA is waging a revolution against the imperialist stranglehold on Philippine society. It aims to end this stranglehold by dismantling the puppet government that orchestrates and secures it to benefit the landlords and compradors. In the process, the NPA, under CPP leadership, is resolving with ever growing number of people the roots of poverty, landlessness, feudal exploitation, agricultural backwardness and the stunting of industrial development.

Ever since the CPP-NPA-NDFP began waging an armed revolutionary war, it has been pushing for genuine land reform. It is deriving greater strength the more it works to organize and help peasant communities undertake land reform.

The NPA is not just a military force. It is arousing, organizing, and mobilizing the masses. It is starting and helping the peasants into organizing and running the Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Magsasaka or PKM (National Peasants Association), and other revolutionary mass organizations based in rural communities.

These organizations conduct campaigns for land reform suited to their capacities. The more masses organized into revolutionary groups the more they could undertake land reform and enjoy its fruits. The more they cherish and bolster the NPA underpinning their successes.

A PKM leader correctly said recently, as the national democratic revolution advances, the PKM shall be able to give more lands to poor peasants. Lands confiscated from landlords and agri-business corporations are given to beneficiaries free of amortization. The CPP-NPA also punishes the most despotic landlords.

Contrast this to the misery of intensifying feudal and semi-feudal exploitation, and one sees the futility of discouraging the masses from supporting the NPA. In time, their level of organization and experience approaches the building of bigger and bolder organs of political power in communities. This may start small with humble benefits, but as a PKM leader said, it is enough for PKM chapters to withstand the hardships and tragedies of counterrevolutionary wars.

In revolution they have hope. And having tasted its benefits even from the early stage of strategic defensive of the protracted people’s war, they would not easily be swayed by phony pictures and declarations.

Thanks to the NPA, the country’s peasants have had a taste of what it’s like to be in a truly democratic government—at least, the local underground government they are building up every day, campaigns after campaigns for land reform. What it’s like to govern themselves, to elect tried-and-tested leaders among themselves, to work the farm sustainably, to share and enjoy its fruits among themselves and not let it become the sole entitlement of landlords, to help plan and execute appropriate farming techniques and technology.

The organized peasants are also doing their share in thwarting the imposition of imperialist-led “reforms” and programs.

The NPA has functioned to truly harness the power of the people in working collectively for each other’s economic and political gains.

“The comrades in the NPA are helping us come up with policies and guidelines in the land distribution, especially on who should be prioritized—those landless and those who lack lands to till,” said Ka Iling, a peasant leader who participated in a local agrarian revolution conference in 2017 held at a guerilla front in the north. It was a joint project of local members of the CPP, the NPA, and the various revolutionary mass organizations in the area.

All over the country, PKM and other collectives of revolutionary groups, without fanfare, have tackled problems of landlessness, conducted land occupation, palit-tanim (changing crops) to have something to eat even as they are forced to plant cash crops. They have struggled to reduce land rent and usurious rates. They have formed cooperatives to work the land more efficiently, buy their needs, and sell their produce lessening the dominance of traders-landlords-usurers.

Almost a million PKM members have benefited from the CPP and the NPA’s maximum agrarian reform program: more than 44,000 hectares of land have been confiscated and redistributed all over the country. Millions of others have benefitted from the campaigns for lower land rent, lower borrowing interest rates, just share in proceeds of harvest, increased farm gate prices, and eliminating traders’ trickery when farmers’ produce are weighed and priced.

Their support services include training and workshops on organic farming, construction of mini dams for free irrigation, installation of hydroelectric and solar or wind-powered turbines for post-harvest drying or processing, among others.

All these and its further development are what are at stake in the counter-revolutionary war waged by the Duterte administration.

THE COMMUNIST REVOLUTION ON A WINNING PATH

Farmers call Duterte a hypocrite for pretending to care about the future generation while doing his best to kill their best prospects today.

He was quoted as telling the CPP-NPA, “We cannot go on this way. We have been fighting for 53 years. Maawa kayo sa susunod (Have mercy on the) coming generation.”

If he was indeed a man of mercy, he could have helped signal the end of armed fighting early into his term. When he terminated the peace negotiations in 2017, the two sides were on the cusp of signing an agreement prompting the Philippine government to implement a genuine land reform.

A clearly-defined mutually coordinated ceasefire would have followed.

As such, even before the massacres occurred in the hacienda land of Negros, or before the killings of peasants all over the country have reached a staggering number of victims (more than 200 as of August 2019 since he became president), the Duterte government could have halted the fighting. For the first time in history, it could have led to the neocolonial government helping resolve the peasant demands which are at the root of the prolonged armed conflict.

Instead, Duterte only confirmed the correctness of the people’s war as means to dismantle the neocolonial government by armed force. His regime has acted true to form in deploying more troops against the peasant-based NPA fighters. Duterte himself acted true to form like the other neocolonial leaders before him. He vowed to sell to highest bidders the fertile lands being defended by the peasants with their very lives.

His agricultural secretary accused the farmers doing bungkalan for survival that they have no rights to the land they should have owned already. He has also been approving with alacrity the appeals of landlords to defeat the farmers’ demands for land distribution. This includes the lands in Hacienda Luisita already ordered for distribution by the Supreme Court.

Duterte admits that “it’s not only about gaining a foothold in those areas,” referring to hotbeds of revolution like Negros, for example. In Sagay City where peasants awaiting CLOAs were massacred by paramilitary troops in October 2018, farmers have been forced to leave and go hungry as troops continue arriving to secure the landlords’ “lawful” ownership. How could the Duterte administration think they could win over these farmers?

Duterte himself admits it is not enough to just bring soldiers to guard the land. “Kunin mo na ang initiative sa komunista (Take the initiative from the communists). What they’re parlaying is land. Eh di unahan na natin. Bigay na natin [ang lupa] (Then let’s move ahead of them. Let’s distribute the land already).”

From the puppet leader who has repeatedly uttered lies and shamelessly admitted to uttering lies, the only true thing he revealed here is that the initiative on land reform is with the communists.

Ever since, the puppet government bowing to imperialist masters has only been reacting to the peasants’ demands for land with bogus land reform programs. The imperialists profit so much from dumping their surplus agricultural products here, while pushing their manufactured products, too. As long as the domestic industries are pushed back and stunted, they have a captive market. The landlord and comprador classes, meanwhile, win big in corruption, buy-and-sell profits, fat contracts and commissions. But the masses grow poorer and hungrier by the day.

Four years ago before Duterte, the poorest 50 percent or 11.4 million Filipino families subsisted on just P15,000 or less per month (P500 or less per day for a family of six). After tax and price hikes amid the lowest wage grants and the worst job generation in the post-Marcos period, the people are definitely worse off today under Duterte. Meanwhile, thanks to his economic policies, the net worth of the country’s richest and the profits of the largest corporations have ballooned.

“Crisis generates resistance,” as CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison titled one of his recent books. The peasantry had launched uprisings and died in bigger numbers before, without the communists to guide them. Now that they have tasted agrarian victories and glimpsed the best future in advancing the national democratic revolution, with socialist perspective, they have hope and will not likely give up on that.

Duterte’s “whole-of-nation” mantra for what he strains to approximate as martial law stands no chance. His human rights record already stinks with blood and many have recoiled from it, even the ordinary people in other countries.
His publicly paid troops who perform services for the landlords, oppress the peasants and the indigenous peoples, will continue to earn the people’s ire and mistrust. Duterte’s minions can conveniently dismiss their war crimes as “shit happens” and “collateral damage”. Before the media, Duterte can shed tears when his troops suffer defeat in legitimate combats with the New People’s Army.

They will keep on getting what they deserve from the people’s army, if they don’t stop standing in the way of genuine land reform, democracy and real prosperity for the majority of the people. #

#PeasantMonth
#ServeThePeople
#JoinTheNPA

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Ka Pidyong’s Revolutionary Journey

in Mainstream

The 75-year old Ka Pidyong couldn’t contain his laughter as he recalled the first time he met members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in their community, an upland barrio in Northern Luzon. He was among the first batch of peasant men and women who welcomed comrades from the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the NPA in 1971, when the twin revolutionary organizations were in the formative stage.

“There were seven of them,” he said in Filipino, grinning. “Only one had an armalite rifle, while the others had carbines, a shotgun, and a caliber .38 handgun— all teka-teka guns (teka literally means “wait” and refers to low-caliber guns). Of the last member of the team, he remembered vividly, “He had no gun, only a kaldero (a metal pot used to cook rice).”

“Three years later, they were already 16 and fully armed,” Ka Pidyong mused. “We were so happy. Our morale was high because 12 of them were recruited from our village.” Some of the original members had been redeployed elsewhere, he remarked enthusiastically, “They continued to grow, so did we.”

Decades after that first contact with the people’s army, the villagers have now established, painstakingly, their own organs of political power: the revolutionary mass organizations of peasants, women, and youth. A revolutionary council has also been elected and now governs their communities. In 2017, members of the mass organizations—representing the unity forged by the CPP, the NPA, and their allies—held their second elections in less than five years.

Setting the Revolutionary Fire

Not long after the first meeting with the NPA, community leaders teamed up with the NPA to go to different mountain villages and those near the town center. They held meetings, education sessions, and explained to the masses the ills of our society and the proposed long-term solution to their situation.

“What truly got me to realize was the fact that the Philippines is a rich country, yet only the foreigners and the local ruling elite benefit from these riches,” Ka Pidyong said.

The education session was followed by many more until, “ang dami ko nang alam (I learned so much)” Ka Pidyong continued, beaming.

The peasants in this guerrilla zone are mostly landless, some tilling a hectare or two. The communities are nestled in a public land, where any moneyed individual can claim ownership over parts or all of it in blatant disregard of existing laws. All too often, the peasants had been victims of traders who preyed on them by selling farm inputs and implements that were overpriced and buying their farm produce at dirt-cheap prices. The government, too, attempted several times to evict the peasants and give way to so-called development projects, but did not succeed.

The series of education sessions was later followed by the establishment of a local chapter of the Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Magsasaka (PKM, National Association of Peasants), one of the founding affiliate organizations of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). The establishment of the Makibaka (Makabayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan) followed after a few years.

As the organizations expanded, Ka Pidyong and other comrades, also thought of ways to tackle their revolutionary tasks more effectively, such as: how to give education to those who are not literate; how to maintain communal farms, form a militia unit in the barrios for their security, and how to efficiently support the various needs of the NPA— the latter task they took to heart most fervently. The welfare of the NPA fighters has always been at the forefront of the masses’ concerns. Even in times of calamities, when there was hardly anything to eat, the masses saw to it that there was food for the Red fighters.

Makibaka members took the lead in taking care of the children of fulltime cadres and Red fighters. They looked after their schooling and overall welfare. The women likewise started the health and sanitation programs, which include production of herbal medicine. The youth were organized under the Huwarang Bata (Model Youth), which initiated sports programs, among others. In those years, when members of the NPA came back from tactical offensives, the youth would welcome them with revolutionary songs.

It has been a long, arduous, but victorious journey for those who blazed the revolutionary trail in this guerrilla zone.

Tempered by Struggle

Leaders of the PKM identified two most trying moments they had experienced in their almost 50 years in struggle: the Party’s disorientation in the late 1980’s until the early 1990’s and the intense militarization during the same period.
But they held the fort, they said, never losing track of the revolution’s onward march, much more the will to push it to victory. Even in those difficult times, when the enemy surrounded them, in their hearts and in their minds they knew where they stand—to serve the Party and the masses.

In fact, while the AFP encamped at the barrio for 14 years, several organizing groups and revolutionary mass organizations were established in the communities surrounding the barrio.

“No one was ever recruited into the AFP’s paramilitary unit. There were a few who almost agreed to be recruited but we persuaded them to back out,” said Ka Pidyong with a chuckle. Ka Pidyong was arrested by the military but, after his release, went into hiding several times after because of the continuing threats of re-arrest.

At the time, the NPA stayed away from the barrio center since their presence would cause unnecessary confrontation with the government forces that would affect the unarmed civilians.

But such restraint was no longer exercised during the Party’s disorientation. The situation then turned intense, pitiful for the masses who had to bring supplies, food into the remote mountainous areas where the NPA retreated after launching tactical offensives. This was the period when military adventurism seeped into the NPA ranks and mass work and agrarian reform tasks took a back seat to tactical offensives that were launched one after another.

Ka Pidyong was among those in the barrio who disapproved the swing to military adventurism, saying it was not time to show off the NPA’s military strength in their guerrilla zone. His memory of how the NPA had shifted its focus and the change in its attitude towards the masses was still fresh. “Yung mga kasama noon wala na, kapag pinupuna ayaw na (At that time the comrades didn’t want to accept criticisms).”

Sadly, Ka Pidyong was among those who were suspected as military agents within the movement during the anti-infiltration campaign. Although he had ill feelings then, now he shrugs off the whole experience. During the rectification period, the Party and NPA cadres and red fighters humbly criticized themselves before the masses and members of the revolutionary organizations as they explained to them the rectification process.

The elders in the community did not mince words in criticizing the Party and NPA members, which the latter wholeheartedly accepted. What is important is the rectification of the errors, which led to growth and strengthening of the Party, the people’s army and the mass organizations.

One with the Party and the People’s Army

A good number of the revolution’s trailblazers are now in their 70s, their faces lined with wrinkles and the hair on their heads turning grey or white and thinning. Still they stay in high revolutionary spirit. They have been in the movement for at least 47 years. Some of them were just about 12 years old when introduced to the movement.

“I am satisfied. Despite my age and ailment, I am still able to help in whatever way I can,” Ka Pidyong remarked. He quickly added, “And, I’m energized to see young people, from our place, from other places, from the cities who come here and stay with us.”

“If the end of our struggle is still far away, where we started from is now much farther away. Let’s continue fighting,” he added.

It took several probing questions from Liberation on how these trailblazers felt about being the bearers of revolutionary power in their communities before they could answer. There was initial silence, a long silence. Tears welled in the eyes of some of them. Clearing his throat, Ka Pidyong spoke up first. He firmly declared, “Without the Party and the NPA, we have nothing.” ###

#PeasantMonth
#ServeThePeople
#JoinTheNPA

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The Trail to Victory

in Mainstream

A month before the celebration of the 50th year founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), Ka Krish, the youngest daughter of Ka Lusyo and Ka Remy exchanged vows with a comrade in the New People’s Army (NPA). The wedding, officiated by a senior member of the Party, is partly a fulfillment of Ka Lusyo and Ka Remy’s hopes and dreams.

For Ka Lusyo and Ka Remy, their daughter’s wedding in the Party was a victory as a couple in raising a new generation of revolutionary.

It also sealed their lifetime commitment to the Party. With Ka Krish, the couple are sure that a new generation will pick up the torch they carry, the arms they brandish, and the banner they wave high to further advance the achievements of the Party.

This new generation shall fulfill the dream and enjoy the fruits of a just, humane, and prosperous Philippines.

The Beginning Of Their Trail

In 1975, Ka Lusyo’s barrio in a remote town in Eastern Visayas was militarized and became a “no man’s land”—where the military shot people on sight, for no reason. Villagers had to evacuate and resettle in the forested area. There they met the NPA.

“I was 17 going on 18 when I tagged along with the red fighters doing propaganda and education work until finally I decided to join them fulltime,” Ka Lusyo narrated. After attending a training on step-by-step organizing, his first assignment was to lead a team of three in organizing five barrios.

“Yes, we were armed. But, except for the revolver that I carried, everything else were pugakhang (home-made gun in Waray language),” Ka Lusyo confided. The team usually work at night going from one barrio to another, holding mass meetings, imparting the knowledge it has learned from comrades in the red army. The masses welcomed and appreciated the discussions about their issues and situation. Enlightened, they cherished and regarded the red army with high esteem.
The next time Ka Lusyo reported back to the squad headed by Ka Bakê, he was given a new assignment. He was trained for the medical team. After more than a month of training, Ka Lusyo became the medical officer of the squad. Later, he would become a commander of the NPA.

His first involvement in a tactical offensive was in the simultaneous attacks in two towns. Those were their first victorious battles. It was followed by an ambush in another town.

“It was the first time I was issued an armalite, my first time to get hold of an automatic rifle,” Ka Lusyo elatedly related.

After that, their unit moved to another town, carrying out ambuscades on the way. In the process, they were able to gather arms from the enemy troops. Their squad then became two to form an undersized platoon. That was in 1979. “That was how we were then, tiklop–buklad (close, open). We split into squads, then merged again into platoon. The attacks on the enemies were frequent and continuous as we proceeded to our destination,” Ka Lusyo narrated.

The red army continued moved around the province—arousing, organizing and mobilizing the masses. In the same vein, tactical offensives were frequent and reverberated all over the province. The Red army was high spirited as if victory was just a leap away.

Love In The Time Of The Revolution

“It was in the North when I met Ka Remy, sometime in 1981. She was a correspondent of our newsletter,” Ka Lusyo began to speak of their love life.

Ka Remy was in Manila when the revolution started in Samar. But, Ka Remy had other plans in mind. Knowing she would not get the nod of her parents, Ka Remy ran away from home to work as household help in the city. That was in 1972.

When the revolution in Samar was gaining ground, her father bade her to come home for fear that they might not see each other again. That was in 1979. She was 19. Meeting a group of enlightened youth in their barrio, she readily joined them. She became a member of the organizing committee in the barrio. But since she was new in the group and needed to be oriented and educated, her tasks at first were confined to making placards for rallies and postering. Later, she realized she needed to do more for the struggling masses and against the onslaught of the fascist rule. After attending courses in the revolutionary movement, she became part of the barrio militia.

“Intelligence work was one of our tasks although I was not so good in it,” Remy admitted.

Her father did not approve of her joining the group. But when a comrade came to talk to him about her going on full time, he consented although tearful. “The next time I visited my father, he told me neither to come home nor see my friends again. He had told everyone I went back to Manila,” she said.

In the people’s army, Ka Remy was trained in all aspects of the hukbo’s work. But when Ka Remy’s group launched a tactical offensive, they did not include her. She was left behind to prepare the meals instead. She resented it. She felt her training was in vain. She felt they did not have confidence in her capability. To rectify, she was later made to join in all the activities of the group.

In 1980, she was transferred to staff work as correspondent for their propaganda work. That was the time she met Ka Lusyo.

Brought together by their work in the movement, Ka Remy and Ka Lusyo’s friendship flourished. Ka Lusyo asked for the permission of both their collectives to court Ka Remy, as practiced in the revolutionary movement. It took months of distance courtship before Ka Lusyo was accepted and two years of distance relationship before they got married.

The distance relationship has suffered the acid test when no letter came from Ka Lusyo for a long time. The relationship almost ended.

“Only when he arrived did I learn he got sick. It could not be denied, he still reeked of medications,” Ka Remy remarked in jest.

The two got married in early 1984 but they stayed together for only three days as Ka Lusyo had to return to his area of responsibility. Meantime, Ka Remy’s assignment also changed—from correspondent she was assigned to do mass work again.

Most of the time, the two performed their revolutionary tasks in separate locations, often away from each other. When Ka Remy was arrested and detained, it took more than a year before the couple met again. Ka Remy could no longer remember Ka Lusyo’s face. It was not surprising because the time they had been together was indeed brief. But this time, upon Ka Remy’s release, they no longer separated.

Together they wove a romance that endured the test of time, difficulties and life-and-death situations. They were together in the raids and ambuscades that were launched.

Their romance blossomed in the midst of the revolution, steadfast as the objective they were fighting for, strong as the determination to overcome all travails and risks, hopeful and faithful that this just war will birth a free, prosperous, and just social system that their children and the generations to come will enjoy.

Ka Remy and Ka Lusyo had four children, the youngest who was born by ceasarian section, died. The children were raised amidst the formidable situation of a war for liberation. When older and weaned from breastfeeding, the children were taken cared of by the masses or some relatives. They came whenever Ka Lusyo and Ka Remy’s unit are encamped, especially when there were celebrations. “LR, my second child, was so dogged and loquacious. He prided introducing himself as my son,” Ka Lusyo was nostalgic.

Surviving The Disorientation

Having attained impressive achievements not only in the armed struggle but also in the agrarian revolution and mass base building, the revolutionary forces in Samar were overwhelmed. Influenced by the disorientation of some cadres in the national leadership, their impetuosity blurred the basic principle of protracted people’s war as they dreamed of quick victory. Regularization of army formation to pursue “strategic counter-offensive” in the 80’s led to the abandonment of mass work and agrarian revolution.

The couple have been very much embroiled in this traumatic nightmare that shook the revolutionary movement. In 1988, the battalion was formed. Ka Lusyo became a third commander in the succession of commanders of the battalion. Ka Lusyo was commander for Alpha. Ka Remy recalled the numerous tactical offensives launched by Alpha.

The battalion was dissolved in 1993, when the Second Great Rectification Movement was launched by the CPP.

Through all these setbacks, Ka Lusyo and Ka Remy remained strong and resolute in their commitment knowing for whom and for what purpose the people’s revolution is all about. They humbly acknowledged the errors of the past and proceeded towards rectification.

The rectification campaign in Eastern Visayas began in 1993. Red fighters and commanders went back to the barrios they left behind, owned up to the errors, and criticized themselves before the masses. The red fighters, commanders, and mass activists returned to the basics—mass work, organizing, propaganda work, and education campaign. Mass organizations, people’s militia and organs of political power were rebuilt. Basic Party organizations were established. Mass struggles and united front work were restored. In 1996, it was said that the rectification campaign in the region has “arrested and reversed the decline of the revolutionary movement.”

Meanwhile, Ka Lusyo and Ka Remy’s offsprings grew up all woke and determined to carry on their parents’ mission. All became full time Red warriors although Gail, the eldest, left the army when she got married.

For Ka Lusyo and Ka Remy, the trail is all set for the total victory of the national democratic revolution to the dawning of the socialist construction in this land.###

#ServeThePeople
#RevolutionaryFamily
#CherishThePeoplesArmy

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KA KARI: Revolution Runs in the Family

in Mainstream
by Iliya Makalipay

It was in 1979 when members of the CPP-NPA reached Ka Kari’s barrio. They often met with his family and discussed with them the aims of the revolution. After a year, Ka Kari and his elder brother decided to go fulltime in the revolutionary movement. After a year of being a staff member of the regional committee, he joined the team that established the first unit of the New People’s Army (NPA) in a district in Eastern Visayas. That was in 1982.

While Ka Kari and his brother Ing-ing were becoming absorbed with their revolutionary work, they had to deal with the opposition from their eldest brother who was against with their involvement in the CPP-NPA. But two years later, in 1984, the elder also joined the NPA.

It was a professor from Cebu who stayed in their house who finally recruited his eldest brother. “But my brother and I never failed to write our family, to tell them about our work as red fighters—organizing the community towards building revolutionary organizations, helping in production work and pursuing agrarian revolution, engaging enemy troops among others,” he explained.

The brothers wanted their family to know that they were not abandoned, that the revolution is the best they could offer them and the people in general. They were persistent, too, in inviting their loved ones to visit them whenever the red fighters were camped.

The nine siblings were deployed in various lines of work and territorial organs within the region. Wherever they were, they looked for family and clan members and kept in touch with them, “to make sure they were informed about the revolution.” The clan members were also tapped for various support work. “Wherever they are, even those residing outside the region, we make sure that comrades get in touch with them.”

As Ka Kari and his brothers and sisters got married, the revolutionary family grew. Sons and daughters were cared for by in-laws who have become part of the movement, too. Having maintained a close relationship with the nephews and nieces, “the children naturally had their own “idols” among us, depending on who they are closest to.”

But it was not easy at first. “The children resented us. They argued and fought us,” said Ka Kari. But like what they did before, Ka Kari and his siblings persistently explained to them the struggle for liberation and democracy. It paid off, he said because now, “Linyado na rin sila. Some are still studying while others are waiting to reach the age of 18.”

Eventually, sons and daughters and nieces and nephews, upon reaching the right age, also became part of the movement, either as red fighters or organizers in the barrios where they lived or in the schools where they studied. “We look for ways to sustain those who wish to continue their studies,” Ka Kari said. “Also, those who have no good reason to join the revolutionary movement were not recruited.” Expectedly, there were also those who lied low and left the guerrilla zone.

Family of martyrs

It has already been 37 fruitful years for Ka Kari in the red army when the CPP celebrated its 50th anniversary. Of the nine siblings, only three are still alive to celebrate the occasion—Ka Kari, Ka Resty and Ka Nonoy. Five of Ka Kari’s siblings had been killed while serving the revolution. One was abducted and has never been surfaced since 2005. All in all, 14 of Ka Kari’s family members have become martyrs of the revolution.

In 1987, Ka Kari’s younger brother Ramil, their sixth, was killed by the military. It was the first death among Ka Kari’s siblings. He was 18 years old. The brother was part of the armed city partisan unit and was tasked to transport a wounded comrade back to the guerrilla zone. He and another comrade were on their way back to the city when soldiers arrested them. His comrade was tortured and chopped to death because he refused to tell where the other comrades were. Ka Kari’s brother was also killed right after, for the same reason.

Ka Kari himself was arrested in 2006 and spent seven years in jail. “Only two of my siblings did not experience imprisonment,” he remarked. But each of those who were jailed would always find their way back to the guerrilla zone.

“Our family has long accepted that death is inevitable. Every death in the family strengthened our resolve to continue. Afterall, those deaths do not invalidate the basis of the struggle, of why are here.”

Family meetings are occasions to process the loss of loved ones. “Waray magulang, waray manghud, waray ranggo (We don’t mind who is the eldest or the youngest, there’s no ranking here),” he jested. A representative from a higher Party organ is usually invited in these meetings. When Ka Kari was released after almost a decade of imprisonment, they held a family meeting. “Our family has grown, the nephews and nieces are now married. Some of them are now also working fulltime in the revolutionary movement. There were already 14 deaths in the family, 14 martyrs. After each member spoke, it was clear that we were all determined to continue, “Fight fear!” is how they ended their meeting.

Raising a revolutionary family

The family of Ka Kari did not simply follow each other’s footsteps. Theirs was a product of a persistent and painstaking work of arousing, organizing and mobilizing the masses for the people’s war. It stemmed from the comrades’ consciousness that their family is among the oppressed and exploited majority and that liberation could only be attained by actively participating in the people’s revolutionary movement.

Ka Kari’s words sum it up: “Ang pamilya kolektib din. Tinitiyak namin na mulat ang mga asawa namin, anak, mga pamangkin para hindi sila malayo sa rebolusyon. Kaming myembro ng pamilya na nasa loob ng hukbo, may tasking kami para abutin ang myembro ng pamilya namin. Kung nagpupukaw ka nga sa masa na ‘di mo kakilala, bakit hindi ang pamilya mo. Hindi mo lang sila kadugo, biktima din sila ng mapang-aping lipunan.”

“Your family is also your collective. We make sure our spouses, children, nephews and nieces are aware of the situation and don’t distance themselves from the revolution.”

Through the years, family members would urge them to come home. To which he would reply, “you come here (to the front). No matter how hard you try, as long as oppression and exploitation exist, you will always be a victim.”

“Kahit mahirap ang buhay sa hukbo, hindi kami kawawa. Ang kawawa ay yung mga inaapi at pinagsasamantalahan pero di lumalaban,” was how Ka Kari described the life in the people’s army.

“Life may be hard in the people’s army, but don’t pity us. Pity those who are exploited but do not fight back.”

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