Group of ex-rebels calls support for ‘Duterte Revolution’

Posted on August 15, 2016

A GROUP composed of prominent former rebels, among others, has declared support for President Rodrigo R. Duterte and what they call his “Revolution” against “illegal drugs, the oligarchs and the exploiters of the Filipino masses.”

The Democratic Front for Filipinism (DFF), as the group called itself, came out with a newspaper ad on Saturday that served as an “open letter” expressing support for Mr. Duterte and calling for, among other things, the “destruction of political and economic oligarchs preying [on] the poor.”

“Our group is composed mainly of warriors from the left, center and right of the political spectrum,” DFF said in its open letter whose identified allies, indeed, include noted veteran militants from the said spectrum who might have clashed with each other in an earlier, politically charged time.

Among those identified in the letter are former rebels Nilo de la Cruz, Nilo S. Tayag and Bernabe Buscayno, all formerly associated with the leadership of the communist underground during the Marcos dictatorship and thereafter.

Mr. Buscayno, known as Commander Dante at the height of the Marcos regime, is the founder of the New People’s Army (NPA). But he had since withdrawn from this movement following his release by President Corazon C. Aquino in 1986.

Mr. Tayag, on the other hand, is the founding secretary-general of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA, while Mr. de la Cruz is associated in the open letter with the Revolutionary Proletarian Army and the Alex Boncayao Brigade, the dreaded communist hit squad during the Aquino and Ramos administrations.

Also associated with the DFF are Gen. Diosdado Valeroso, Col. Reynaldo Cabauatan, Col. Alexander Noble, and Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim -- among the prominent names linked to the series of coup plots against the first Aquino administration.

The group said Mr. Duterte’s declared war against illegal drugs and the oligarchs “is the essence of a true and genuine revolution.”

“We shall never allow this revolution to be destroyed by counter-revolutionary groups,” the open letter said.

DFF expressed its support for federalism, the anti-graft and corruption campaign, and the pursuit of peace “inclusive among all rebels.”

But the group also called for “the burial of a former soldier and a former President, Ferdinand Marcos at Libingan ng Mga Bayani, and also threw its support for a “mandatory ROTC/CAT [with] every citizen reaching the age of 18 years [to be] inducted in the National Guards/Reservists.” Leftist groups have opposed this option by the Duterte administration.

“The Duterte Revolution is fast engulfing the length and breadth of the entire Philippine Archipelago. It is guided by Duterteism which is none other than the ideology of Filipinism personified,” the letter said.

Sought for comment, Mr Tayag defined Filipinism as “tayo ang hari, tayo ang may-ari, tayo ang pari ng sariling bayan, hindi mga dayuhan.” (We are kings, rulers, and priests of our own land, not the foreigners.)

He said “Duterteism” is in line with Filipinism in its drive against corruption, illegal drugs, and criminality,” as well as against the oligarchs of “Spanish and Chinese descent” -- “the 46 families that rule or control 86% of the national wealth.”

“We would like to participate by helping the government preserve the gains of the revolution,” Mr. Tayag said, adding that Mr. Duterte must “not be isolated by the ruling classes.”

Defending the group’s stand on the Marcos-Libingan burial, Mr. Tayag said the anti-Marcos line of his former comrades in the communist movement is “the wrong line,” as he cited the broader target of “feudalism” and “imperialism.”

For his part, Francisco Taccad, Jr. identified in the DFF letter as General Secretary, said when sought for comment that Mr. Duterte, without mentioning the R word, is already “indirectly starting [his] revolution.” -- with Joseph U. Vizcarra