JA: The late NDF leader, Antonio Zumel, a member of the Central Committee of the CPP, stated that in 1986 families of victims of “Kampanyang Ahos” approached him requesting information on their relatives. The good CPP cadres and members pushed for the exposure of “Kampanyang Ahos” since 1986. But the masterminds and perpetrators blocked such exposure. Ka Tony Zumel once narrated that at an expanded CPP Political Bureau meeting in December 1986, a letter from a member of the Central Committee demanding an answer as to who were responsible for “Kampanyang Ahos” was presented. Benjamin de Vera, Secretary of the CPP Mindanao Commission, and member of the CPP Executive Committee, quickly answered: “Bakit, may pananagutan ba ako diyan? [Why, do I have any responsibility for that?]” and Ricardo Reyes, Deputy Secretary of the CPP Mindanao Commission, who uses the pseudonym “Paco Arguellers”, casually answered: “Pinag-iisipan ko pa, kung ako ay may pananagutan diyan.” [I am still considering, if I have any responsibility for that] Both were washing their hands of any responsibility for “Kampanyang Ahos.” Yet, both were informed of the disastrous policy decisions taken by the so-called Caretaker Committee of the CPP Mindanao Commission in July 1985. They approved these policies which allowed torture of suspected “deep penetration agents” (DPAs). When the good CPP cadres and members prevailed over the masterminds and perpetrators of “Kampanyang Ahos,” the CPP Central Committee came out in the most public manner to condemn and act on the crime from 1992 onwards.
JE: What could be the effect, in terms of public acceptance and popularization of revolutionary means to achieve societal change, with the public disclosure from former fulltime underground members and Philippine military of the bloody purges while the revolutionary forces react?
LJ: The CPP was the very first one to expose and condemn “Kampanyang Ahos” and other bloody witchhunts perpetrated by criminal renegades. What the reactionary military authorities and some of the anti-communist journalists have done is to confuse the facts and the issue. They vilify the CPP and protect the masterminds and perpetrators of Kampanyang Ahos.
Gravest tactical error
JE: The CPP-NDF has recognized the purge as one of the most damaging results of the gravest tactical error ever in the history of struggle of the national democratic revolutionary movement.
LJ: “Kampanyang Ahos” was a gigantic anti-communist and anti-people crime, not just a tactical error and not even merely an ideological-political-organizational matter internal to the Party. “Kampanyang Ahos” was not a “bloody purge”. It was a bloody crime committed by the likes of Benjamin de Vera, Ricardo Reyes and Nathan Quimpo, who erroneously ascribed the setbacks being suffered then by the revolutionary movement in Mindanao to enemy infiltration rather than to the militarist line they were pursuing.
Because of their purely militarist line, they did not pay attention to mass work, land reform, and other programs that benefit the masses such as literacy and numeracy, health and sanitation, promoting sideline occupations, etc. Because of this, they had alienated the masses and lost their support. Their putschist line in the cities led them to carry out indiscriminate killings in Davao City and other urban centers which gave the reactionaries the justification to form right-wing paramilitary groups such as the Alsa Masa. Because of the loss of mass support, the New People’s Army was suffering many casualties in battles. The Alsa Masa was also able to wreak havoc on the mass organizations in the cities and in the countryside.
But instead of recognizing that it was their militarist line that was the cause of these setbacks, they attributed these to supposed “deep penetration agents” or DPAs. “Kampanyang Ahos” was carried out supposedly to get rid of enemy infiltrators. Instead it victimized many good comrades, allies and members of the revolutionary mass organizations.
Their petty-bourgeois subjectivist wish for a “speedy victory” and aversion to painstaking work and bearing the necessary sacrifices in the struggle led them to play around with “left” revolutionism.
JE: Was there a comprehensive investigation on individuals who were directly involved in the torture, murder and other violations of the rights of suspected deep penetrating agents among the revolutionaries?
LJ: Yes, of course.
JE: How far was the investigation?
LJ: As far as possible. The highly placed criminal suspects protected each other up to 1991. After 1991, the biggest criminal suspects were already openly anti-CPP. Many of the suspects escaped the justice system of the movement by joining the reactionary government.
JE: What were the results and decisions?
LJ: The results and decisions depended on the evidence, the gravity of the offense and the remorse of the accused as a mitigating circumstance.
JE: Were those found guilty of criminal acts punished or have been issued outstanding orders for their arrest or made to answer for the civil and criminal liabilities they owe to the masses and society?
LJ: Those that could be tried were tried. Those found guilty were meted out the punishment commensurate to the crime. Their criminal and civil liabilities were taken into account. There are outstanding arrest orders for those suspects who have so far eluded arrest.
JE: Were the families of the victims given justice?
LJ: Yes, as far as possible. Basically by bringing the culprits to justice.
JE: And in what form, means or ways has the revolutionary movement, at least, paid back to the families of the victims of the bloody purges?
LJ: As far as possible, indemnification has been given to families of the victims. As most of the families belong to the revolutionary mass movement, they get satisfaction from the revolutionary and social achievements of the revolution, like land reform, higher production, health program, etc. They continue to be involved in the revolutionary movement.