Tactics used by the Communist Party of the Philippines to smear their critics

Tactics used by the Communist Party of the Philippines to smear their critics

In response to scholar of Philippine communism Joseph Scalice presenting a lecture detailing the class collaborationist politics of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) including the CPP's support to President Rodrigo Duterte and his War on Drugs, the CPP responded with vitriol and even put out a special issue of their newspaper Ang Bayan just to attack Scalice. Here Alex De Jong outlines the various tactics used by the Communist Party and those who share its line to smear their critics in attempts to defend their falsification of history.

The way the CPP has responded to Joseph Scalice's critical historical research made me think of how predictable their responses to critics are. They most often respond with a mix of the following:

First tactic: Snitch-jacketing

The CPP (and especially Joma) do no hesitate in labelling people as enemy agents. Joma has decades of practice in this. When in the late sixties Joma broke with the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas he claimed PKP-leaders like the Lavas were agents of the bourgeoisie – and had been for years already. Likewise, Joma insinuated that US Communist William Pomeroy, who had joined the PKP in the late forties, was a CIA-agent and that Pomeroy's 1962 release (after a decade in prison) was a reward for services rendered.

In 1989 reporter Gregg R. Jones published his 'Red Revolution. Inside the Philippine Guerilla Movement'. The book contains quite some embarrassing allegations about Joma, but most seriously it quotes former party-members claiming Sison had a hand in the bombing that was the pretext for Marcos' declaration of Martial Law. Jones was promptly labelled a CIA-spy (this must have been embarrassing for local cadres as Jones had been extensively touring around guerilla-zones with assistance of the Party – no-one suspected him of being CIA until after the book was published and Joma came out with his 'revelations'?)

The World Social Forum of the late nineties and early 2000's? In it were forces in opposition to the CPP's politics, so obviously, the WSF as well was a CIA-project.

That Joseph Scalice is now also labelled a CIA-agent is entirely predictable.

Second tactic: Character-assassination

In the CPP's worldview, someone who criticizes their politics is not simply someone they disagree with: critics are also morally bad people. When in the early 2000s my French comrade Pierre Rousset criticized the CPP's harassment and killing of leftist activists for example, the CPP made sure to describe him as a 'arm-chair activist long ensconced as a staffer in a cozy office at the European parliament' (Pierre worked for a few years as a staffer of the LCR-faction in the European parliament – he has also been a revolutionary activist since 1968).

Obviously, such personal attacks are beside the point, they don't say anything about the arguments put forward, but they form a part of the third element:

Third tactic: Claims of moral superiority

Members of the CPP's armed wing, the NPA, take enormous risks, and make huge sacrifices, including often their lives. This is rather shamelessly used as a cudgel by CPP-hacks who pretend that criticizing their politics means one does not recognize such dedication. You do not think the Philippines in 2020 is still a semi-feudal country? And that a 'strategy' based on such a notion is nonsense? Prepare to be accused of of spitting on the graves of idealistic NPA-martyrs. Inversely, such sacrifices are paraded around as if they are arguments about political economy and strategy.

Fourth tactic: Selective use of the accusation of 'red-tagging'

Everyone knows that there is large, above-ground movement in the Philippines that shares the CPP's 'National-Democratic' politics. This movement does not just share the CPP's overall assessment of politics. It uses the exact same jargon (for example; the phrase 'three basic problems of the Philippines') and comes consistently to the same political conclusions.

For example, the N-D line is that the left should ally with 'progressive capitalists'. This above-ground movement does not simply share this strategy: it always comes to the same conclusions as the CPP about just who those 'progressive capitalists' are.

The CPP itself will refer to the size of this movement as an argument for the correctness of its analysis (that support for a cult like the Iglesia ni Kristo is even larger, not to mention that for Duterte, is somehow not accepted as 'proof' such forces are even more correct) and the CPP's press features reports about the activities of such groups.

But the moment one criticizes actions of this movement as part a criticism of the CPPs political line (for example: pointing to the women's group campaigning with and for Duterte in Davao City, or the youth group setting up a pro-Duterte alliance, or national leaders praising Duterte's 'progressive policies'), one is accused of 'red-tagging' and hence endangering activists' lives.

Fifth tactic: Semantics

When the legal NDs in 2010 supported multi-millionaire businessman Manny Villar for the presidency (with the usual unanimity, they had discovered he was a 'progressive capitalist'), they found themselves in the awkward situation of supporting the same candidate as the Marcos-clan. Still, they insisted they were not in an alliance with the Marcos-clan: sure, the NDs had allied with Villar, but that Villar then also allied with the Marcos-clan technically did not mean they were in one alliance. Villar had two, 'separate' alliances instead...

Another example I saw myself; the first State of the Nation address by Duterte was turned by the NDs into a pro-Duterte rally. I saw them wearing Duterte-shirts and bracelets, putting up Duterte-banners et cetera. They carried a large banner calling for 'support to Duterte's progressive policies'. See what they did there? Support for his 'progressive policies' only, not for Duterte himself they now claim.

Finally: Out right lying

Scalice is attacked by Sison for his supposed hostility to peace-negations as such. Scalice has of course never said or even implied he is on principle opposed to peace-negations, and Joma knows that. The NDs also quite routinely claim that their leftists critics have never condemned Philippine state-terrorism nor extended their solidarity — they make these accusations when they know fully well they are not true. This for example happened with Pierre and the Fourth International. They knew Pierre was personally thanked by Sison for his support, and that in the archives there is a letter by Alan Jazmines, on behalf of Bayan, thanking the Fourth International for its solidarity against state-repression. The NDs simply pretend such things never happened when it suits them.

The most blatant example of this last tactic now is of course their outright denial they were ever in support of Duterte.

When confronted with such blatant lies, lies backed up by the other techniques, exhaustion and frustration are natural responses. Of course, those are exactly the responses the CPP, Joma et al hope for.


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kasama_libsoc
Aug 27 2020 02:50

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  • When confronted with such blatant lies, lies backed up by the other techniques, exhaustion and frustration are natural responses. Of course, those are exactly the responses the CPP, Joma et al hope for.

    Alex de Jong

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