A Strategy for Defeating Communist Insurgents in the Philippines

Report Asia

A Strategy for Defeating Communist Insurgents in the Philippines

December 19, 1988 20 min read Download Report
Richard Fisher
Distinguished Fellow in China Policy

(Archived document, may contain errors)

No. 84 December 19,1988


INTRODUCTION The government of Philippine President Corazon Aquino faces a mounting threat from the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). In the first eight months of this year, the CPP's war against the government has killed over 2,500 Filipinos. In all of last year, this war killed over 3,000 Filipinos. Today, moreover, the CPP controls about 20 percent of the Philippine countryside, including large portions of the islands of Luzon, Mindanao, and the central Visayan islands.

The CPP has never masked its aim to create a communist dictatorship in the Philippines. This would have important consequences for the United States, which long has taken pride in its close ties to the Philippines and in that country's evolution toward democracy. Of special concern to the U.S., of course, is the continued access of American military..forces.to Philippine military bases at Subic Bay and Clark Air Field after the current agreement expires in 1991. Ending the U.S.-Philippine military relationship is a major CPP goal.

Creating Solidarity Networks. Though the CPP has suffered setbacks in recent months, during the last year it has proved its ability to destroy such economically important targets as bridges and sugar cane farms. Worse, it has demonstrated its willingness to kill Americans. Captured CPP documents, meanwhile, confirm that the Party has created a worldwide international support and "solidarity" network. One document shows that 40 CPP members may be in the U.S. Documents also confirm that the CPP is establishing a formal relationship with the Soviet bloc.

Aquino government forces have scored recent victories over the CPP in southern Mindanao and Negros. Yet even within the Philippine military there are conflicting

assessments over who is winning the war. It is possible the CPP could greatly improve its prospects for victory by waging more sophisticated political warfare, gaining large-scale Soviet bloc support, and forcing a radical change in U.S.-Philippine relations.

The U.S. can do little directly to help Aquino fight the CPP. But Washington could press Aquino to make fighting the CPP a higher priority, and it could provide advice and indirect help. In this regard, the U.S. could take the following steps:

* * Increase U.S. military assistance to $300 million annually. Ibis could be used for increased purchases of weapons, fuel, and trucks, and for training. Ibis would increase projected U.S. aid by about 50 percent. This October 18, the Reagan Administration agreed to give Manila $481 million a year in economic and military assistance for 1990 and 1991, the last two years of the current Military Bases Agreement. Of this total amount, $200 million is military assistance, but the Philippine Armed Forces need more.

Train Philippine police forces.

Help Manila purchase new combat aircraft and tactical transport aircraft.

Cooperate with Manila to identify CPP members in the U.S., and press friendly and allied countries to warn their citizens against supporting the CPP.

* * Expose Soviet support for the CPP and warn Moscow that its relations with the CPP will threaten U.S.-Soviet relations.

Beyond these measures, Washington must press Aquino to explain how she sees the U.S.-Philippine relationship evolving. The U.S. bases in the Philippines surely serve U.S. interests by maintaining Asian regional stability, but they also serve Manila's interests as does the $481 million per year to be paid by the U.S. for the bases. The U.S. would prefer to keep these bases, but it does have other options in the region. As the current bases agreement nears expiration in 1991, the U.S. must know where Aquino stands on continuing the agreement and on broader U.S.-Philippine military cooperation.


Despite the capture of nine of its Central Committee members this year, the CPP remains a formidable threat. In 1987 the war it has inflicted on its country resulted in the deaths of about 3 000 Filipinos. In the first eight months of 1988, over 2,500 Filipinos died in the CPP's war. I CPP membership is about 33,000, and since 1987 its guerrilla New People's Army (NPA) has grown slightly to about 25,800.2

1 Dionisio Pelayo, "Figures Given for Insurgency Incidents, Strength," Philippine Daily Globe, November 13, 1988, p. 1, 6, in FBIS-EastAsia, November 15,1988, p. 60. 2 Aid.; Olaf S. Giron,"CPP Undergoes Major Shakeup," Manila Bulletin, July 16,1988, p. 19. Assassinations and Hostage Taking. Starting in summer 1987, the CPP has become more violent and has started attacking economic targets. Captured CPP documents reveal, for example, that from 1986 to 1987 NPA military encounters in Southern Luzon increased by 45 percent.3 In September 1987, the NPA destroyed two major bridges in the Bicol region. Last August the NPA overran a government-owned geothermal power plant in 4 southeastern Luzon and threatened to destroy it unless they were paid a $30,000 ransom.

The CPP changed its longstanding policy not to target foreigners on September 28, 1987, when NPA assassins shot three U.S. servicemen outside Clark Air Base. Then in November 1987, the NPA captured two South Korean engineers and held them for 89 days, releasing them only after a reported $750,000 ransom was paid. 5 On the island of Negros NPA leaders have threatened to attack U.S. and Canadian funded assistance projects.6 And in May the CPP stated: "All US troops and installations in the country are military targets of the NPA."7


T'he CPP's National United Front Commission manages scores of political front organizations in almost every sector of Philippine society. Inadvertently, CPP founder and alleged current CPP Chairman Jose Maria Sison revealed the names of several last year in an interview in Belgium. These included: BAYAN, a large multisectoral alliance; May First Movement (KMU), a trade union federation; Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP); GABRIELA, a women's front; League of Filipino Students (LFS); Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT); and Partido ng Bayan, a political party that holds two seats in 8 the Philippine Congress. Some groups, such as the ACT and the KMU, are quite powerful. In August 1987, for example, the KMU led a transport strike that forced Aquino to roll back a fuel price increase.

The CPP long has targeted the Philippine Catholic Church, which ministers to 85 percent of the country's population. One CPP front, Christians for National Liberation, brags that it 9 seeks the cooperation of Catholic Bishops in areas where the CPP is strong. Earlier this year Philippine Bishops reorganized a charity, the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA), because it had funneled money to CPP fronts.10 Philippine Cardinal Jaimie Sin publicly has acknowledged that the Church has been infiltrated by communists. Last July 15, about 2,000 people in Bocolod, Negros, protested CPP infiltration of the Catholic diocese. 12

3 James Clad, "Intensifying the struggle," Far Eastenz Economic Review, August 4, 1988, p. 19. 4 WPAs ask ransom for geothermal plant; kill six," Daily Globe, August 6, 1988. 5 Manila Philippine News Agency, February 9, 1988, in FBIS-East Asia, February 9, 1988, p. 36. 6 Manila Radio Veritas, April 22,1988, in FBIS-EastAsia, April 22,1988, p. 58. 7 AngBayan, May 1988, p. 11. 8 "Sison names Red Front groups,"Manila 771ines, January 14,1988, p. 1. 9 "Good news of people's liberation,"Liberation (a CPP magazine), March-April 1988, p. 10. 10 Araceli Z. Lorayes, "Philippine Bishops Rein In Their Social Action Arm," National Catholic Register, February 21, 1988, p. 5. 11 Jaimic L. Cardinal Sin, "Infiltration and the Church," 77te Wall Streetfournal, March 14,1988, p. 27. 12 Carla Gomez, "Rightists seek bishop's ouster," Philippine Daily Inquirer, July 17, 1988, p. 8. Copying the Sandinistas. Offsetting in part this CPP infiltration is the weakening of the organization by disputes over leadership and strategy and the loss of some support for its front organizations, especially that of the urban middle class, following the CPP boycott of the February 1986 presidential election. The dispute over political strategy is whether to emphasize political struggle over guerrilla warfare or to give them equal emphasis. 71is surfaced in mid-1986 when some cadres wanted to deemphasize "armed struggle" in favor of a more sophisticated political strategy stressing broad "united fronts" with noncommunist leftist groups. 71ey wanted to copy the successful example of Nicaragua's Sandinistas. More recently, disputes over political strategy forced several top CPP leaders in Negros to quit; they later exposed their KMU union, the National Federation of Sugar Workers, as a CPP front. 13

By mid-1988 the CPP began showing signs of shifting its strategy to united fronts. As such, it is now willing to cooperate with its old enemy, the much smaller Soviet-funded Partido 14 - Kommunista ng Pilipinas (PKP), which led the "Huk" rebellion of the 1950s. It is also joining broad alliances such as the Freedom From Debt Coalition, which unites CPP and PKP front leaders, noncommunist leftist groups, Senator Wigberto Tanada, and 21 Congressmen.15 If NPA military operations were reduced, a united front strategy might increase middle-class support for the CPP, but its ability to collect taxes might diminish, increasing the importance of international support.

THE CPP's INTERNATIONAL DEPARTMENT Captured CPP documents confirm that the CPP has an extensive propaganda and 16 fundraising network and is moving to establish formal relations with the Soviet bloc. In November 1987 CPP Central Committee member Satur Ocampo claimed the CPP had support networks in 25 countries. According to one captured CPP document, in 1986 and 1987, these networks may have sent 1,735 foreigners to the Philippines on CPP-controlled 99 exposure tours."17

ne main CPP international liaison front is the Ecumenical Partnership for International Concerns (EPIC), identified as either communist-controlled or communist-dominated by the Philippine military. 18 The CPP's latest campaign is to organize a large international protest rally against the U.S. bases in the Philippines, possibly for January 1989. 19 TO'

13 Dionisio Pelayo, "Sugar workers' body controlled by CPP," 7he Daily Globe, July 23,1988; John Whitehall and Patrick J. Byrne, "NPA Defectors Reassess the Cause,"Asian Wall Street Joumal Weekly, August 29, 1988, p. 15. 14 Moming Star (British Communist Party), April 5,1988. 15 Advertisement, Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 9, 1988. 16 See the author's "The International Anti-Aquino Network: Threat To Philippine Democracy," Asian Studies Backgrounder, No. 61, May 4,1987. 17 "PARAYAG SA INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY WORK, Enero 1986 - November 19,1987,"p. 1. 18 Vittorio Vitug, "Military Discloses Shakeup in CPP Leadership," Malaya, November 11, 1987, p. 1. 19 "Australian 'peace brigade' to protest US bases in Philippines," News Weekly, October 26, 1988, p. 4. manage its overseas activities and relations with other communist parties, the CPP has created an International Department (ID).

Western Europe

Since 1976, the CPP's European activities have been managed by ex-priest and CPP Central Committee member Luis Jalandoni. Based in Utrecht, The Netherlands, he runs the Komite ng Sambayanang Pilipino (Philippine Support Committee). In January 1987, Jalandoni claimed to have "solidarity committees" in 15 countries: Austria, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and West Germany. M Jalandoni has also expanded CPP ties with European communist parties; last year, for example, he attended the 1987 Congress of the French Communist Party. 21 Manila has urged The Netherlands to order Jalandoni to halt his activities, but Dutch authorities refuse; he is now a Dutch citizen.

Captured CPP documents show that a total of 428 Europeans went on CPP-organized exposure tours in 1986 and 1987. 22 In January 1987, for instance, four politicians visited the Philippines on a trip organized by the Netherlands-based Transnational Institute, an offshoot of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a longtime supporter of communist insurgencies. 23 The delegation received assistance from the Ecumenical Partnership for International Concerns, and the Philippine Institute for Popular Democracy, both of which are linked to the CPP. The majority of the meetings of the visiting British, Dutch, and Swedish politicians were with such CPP fronts as the KMU, KMP, BAYAN, and GABRIELA 24


Headquartered in Manila, the Asia-Pacific Committee (ASPAQ of the International Department maintains support groups in Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, and New Zealand. Documents captured from a January 1987 regional meeting of the ASPAC in Manila reveal its extensive activities. 7lbe country report for Japan states that CPP members had been in Japan from 1983 to October 1986.25 ibe same document claims that the CPP has informal party relations with the Japan Workers Party and Japan Labor Party and in 1986, began exploratory talks with the Japan Communist Party. The document states that "Japanese

20 "'We do not seek belligerency status from talks,' an interview with NDF international representative Luis Jalando4"Liberation, January 1, 1987, p. 6. 21 Manila Bulletin, March 15,1988, p. 6, in FBIS-Eas(Asia, March 16,1988, p. 43. 22 "PAHAYAG...,"op. cit. 23 For IPS-TNI link see, S. Steven Powell, Covert Cadre, Inside the Institutefor Policy Studies (Ottawa Illinois: Green Hill Publishers, Inc., 1988), pp. 24-25. 24 Transnational Institute, Europe and the Philippines, towards a new relationship (Amsterdam: Transnational Institute, 1987), pp. 5, 60-63. 25 FIRST POLITICAL CONFERENCE, Asia Pacific Party Organization, January 24-30,1987, Country Report-Japan, p. 1. MLOs [Mandst-Leninist Organizatior %] have contributed the biggest direct material support... outside the socialist bloc."

Links with Japanese Leftists. The document further claims that there are nine CPP support networks in Japan. One of the most active is the Resource Center for Philippine Concerns, established in 1977 and based in Tokyo. These groups promote "official links" between CPP fronts and Japanese leftist groups, including one between SOHYO, a leftist Japanese union federation and the KMU. There are "working relations" between the Japan Socialist Party and BAYAN. During 1986 and 1987, CPP-controlled exposure tours of the Philippines were taken by 877 Japanese, more than from any other country.27

The ASPAC country report for Australia notes that two members of the CPP's National Democratic Front are now in Australia and hope to establish an open NDF office.28 Since mid-1987 EPIC representative Joy Balazo has been stationed in Australia, presumably to coordinate "solidarity" activities. Since 1977, the center of the Australian solidarity network has been the Philippine Action Support Group, which coordinated a May 1987 visit to Australia by Luis Jalandoni. For 1986 and 1987, CPP records show that 121 Australians visited for exposure tours.29 The ASPAC document states: "There are also a number of ALP (Australian Labor Party) senators, parliamentarians and members recognizing and supporting in whatever way they can the NDF."

Since 1983, New Zealand solidarity work has been led by the Philippine Solidarity Network. In May 1987 the Network hosted a tour for Luis Jalandoni, and last September and October, it hosted a visit for EPIC representative Joy Balazo.30

United States

A captured diagram of the International Department reveals that the CPP has 40 actual party members in the U.S. and Canada.31The "U.S. partner" of the Manila-based Ecumenical Partnership in International Concerns is the Washington, D.C.-based Church Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (CCHRP).32 Until recently, it was led by Dr. Dante Sinibulan, who was arrested by the Philippine government in 1974 for alleged association with the CPP. Until a replacement is found, it will be led by staff member Rev. Douglas Cunningham. In 1987 the EPIC hosted two CCHRP-organized exposure tours. In 1986 and 1987, some 132 Americans went on CPP organized exposure tours of the 33 Philippines. The Alliance of Philippine Concerns is another support group named in-a-

26 .1bid. 27 "PAHAYAG..."op. cit., p. 1. 28 First Political Conference: Asia Pacific Party Organization, January 24-30, 1987, reported in "Filipino communist links with Australia revealed,"News Weekly, August 10, 1988, p. 9. 29 "PAHAYAG," op. cit. 30 "Gaddaft emissary tours NZ@ New Zealand Tablet, June 24,1987, p. 7; Roger Foley, "Seeks NZ support to get US out," 7he Evening Post, September 28, 1988, p. 16. 31 Also mentioned in "CPP worried over expired passports of members-AFP," Philippine Daily Globe, September 6, 1988. 32 Church Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, "Philippine Witness," September-October, 1986, p. 8. 33 "PAHAYAG. . . " op. cit., p. 1. captured CPP documents. 34 It is based in Los Angeles and is headed by Enrique dela Cruz and Jorge Emmanuel. The CCHRP often co-sponsors events with the Alliance for Philippine Concerns and with the Institute for Policy Studies. Last September 28, the APC, CCHRP, and the Institute for Policy Studies sponsored a talk for Dr. Zenaida Uy, Secretary General of the CPP front BAYAN, at the IPS offices in Washington, D.C.

In 1987, these groups launched a major campaign in the U.S. to attack the human rights record of the Aquino government. A CCHRP-sponsored March 1987 conference in Washington, D.C., noted the growing danger from anticommunist "vigilante" groups. The following May, a delegation led by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark visited the Philippines. Their final report relied on testimony from CPP fronts like the KMU and GABRIELA and concluded that trends could lead to human rights conditions "far exceeding the horror of the Marcos era." 35 The Clark group accused, without citing evidence, that CIA and U.S. Information Agency personnel have been assisting the 36 Philippine military. Their report acknowledges help by CCHRP staff member Doug Cunningham for "logistics, fundraising and other important matters," and assistance from the EPIC. 37

The CPP's Soviet Connection

The CPP previously opposed the Soviets, but now seeks formal relations with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). Philippine sources believe that CPP Chairman Jose Mana Sison, using the pseudonym Armando Linawag, stated in July 1987: "If there are relations between the CPP and the CPSU, or any European parMose to it, the Philippine revolution will be favored by increased international support." The CPP trade union front KMU now receives support from the Soviet front World Federation of Trade Unions, while the CPP women's front GABRIELA sent a delegation to the 1987 Soviet Women's Congress. 39

Philippine government sources told The Heritage Foundation that in 1987, CPP Chairman Sison proposed exploratory talks to lead to party-to-party relations with Bulgaria, Cuba, East Germany, Hungary, Vietnam, and Yugoslavia. A CPP document captured last March, dated February 21, 1988, states that so far only East Germany, Hungary, and Yugoslavia have said that they would respond to the CPP request. Relations with Moscow's

34 ]bid., p. 3. 35 Ramsey Clark, Professor Gerald Horne, Mr. Ralph McGehee, ST. Catherine Pinkerton, Dr. Lester Edwin J. Ruiz, Mr. Leonard Weinglass, Repon QfA U.S.-Philippine Fact-Finding Mission To 77te Philippines, May 20-30, 1987, p. 32. 36 Ibid., p. 48. 37 ]bid, p. iii. 38 "On the International Relations of the Communist Party of the Philippines, (An Interview with Comrade Armando Linawag, Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines)," Ang Bayan, July 7, 1987, p. 9. 39 Keith B. Richburg, "Labor Strife Damaging To Aquino," 7he Washington Post, October 15,1987, p. A 27; "GABRIELA in Moscow Women's Meet," Womens Update, June 1%7, p. 20. network improved last April, when the CPP signed a formal agreement with El Salvador's Soviet - and Cuban-supported Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, "to fight US domination of our respective countries.,AO


Philippine military officials estimate that in 1987 the CPP raised between $20 million and $45 million from domestic "revolutionary taxation." Figures taken from CPP documents captured last March, however, indicate the CPP's budget was only $2.6 million for 1987. 41 The same figures show that at least 60 percent come from "legal projects." These are usually charitable projects in the countryside set up by CPP fronts and funded by leftist organizations abroad.

The method of funneling money to the CPP was described by Noel Villalba, arrested by the Philippine military last July as a member of the Asia-Pacific Committee of the CPP's International Department. Though he later claimed to have been tortured, Villalba described in his own handwriting how money is skimmed from projects approved by the National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP) and given to the CPP which then 99 uses the money for full time cadres and to support the NPA, by buying arms. PP41 The NCCP denied the accusation even though Villalba formerly worked for the NCCP. The NCCP receives financial support from the U.S. National Council of Churches. 43

Money from Methodists. The CPP also receives direct funding, usually to its front groups. Documents obtained by The Heritage Foundation from the United Methodist Church of the United States state that the Methodists' General Board of Global Ministries gave $2,500 to the Ecumenical Partnership in International Concerns in 1987, and from 1981 to 1984, gave $11,983 to the Church Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines. In 1988 the U.S. Methodists gave $12,129 to the CPP women's front GABRIEI.A 44 In 1987, the Dutch government's National Commission for Development Aid gave $28,500 to the Dutch Philippine Group, which works with CPP Central Committee member Luis Jalandoni.4 In 1987, the New Zealand Ambassador to Manila gave over $6,000 for a project arranged by Benedictine Sister Mary John Mananzan, co-chairman of

40 "NDF, El Salvador rebel group forge agreement," Malaya, April 30,1988, p. 3. 41 "AFP admits expansion in membership of NPA," Malaya, August 10, 1988, p. 7; James Clad, "High cost of waging war,"FarEastern Economic ReWew, July 28,1988, p. 13. 42 "NCCP official laundering aid money for CPP," 77se Daily Globe, July 12,1988, p. 1; "NCCP denies acting as conduit for CPP funds," Yhe Daily Globe, July 13, 1988, p. 1; copy of statement written by Villalba. 43 Lucy Komisar, "Protestant churches in the Philippines," Chfistianity and Oisis, June 16, 1986, p. 205. 44 Tilipina activist heads coalition backed by UM Women's grant," 7he United Methodist Reponer, June. 24, 1988, p. 3. 45 NDF getting foreign subsidy," 7he Manila 77mes, September 8, 1988, p. 1. GABRIEI.A. 46 The Australian Council of Churches gives over $129,000 annually to Philippine projects, and according to one Australian report, one-third of this ends up in the hands of the CPP's New People's Army. 47 The Philippine military estimates that in 1987 the CPP raised as much as $8 million to $15 million from abroad. 48


This July, President Aquino claimed the government was winning the war against the CPP. But critic Senator Ernesto Maceda has stated, "nere are 68 [out of 73] provinces affected by insurgency problems, and in two and a half years they can't declare a single province as cleaned up, neutralized, liberated." An Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) internal report, leaked to the Philippine press, apparently admits that in early 1988, the AFP was winning only one in fifteen encounters with the CPP. 49

Still, the AFP has taken the initiative against the CPP in some areas. As recently as 1985, the Mindanao island city of Davao was known as "Murder City" because of the daily violence from a determined CPP attempt to take control. nis prompted the formation in late 1986, with the military's assistance, of a citizen's self-defense group called Alsa Masa. In a matter of months, Alsa Masa chased the NPA out of Davao, and it is an example of successful civil-military cooperation. These citizen self-defense groups, called "vigilantes" by opponents, have been the target of intense CPP propaganda.-lu Initially approved by Aquino, she called for their disbandment last July.

Government Gains in Negros. On the island of Negros the AFP has begun to gain the upper hand because a CPP policy of increased violence has caused factional splits within the CPP and because the AFP has attracted increased public support. Sugar planters have funded a special militia called the Philippine Constabulary Forward Command and additional police stations in the provincial capital of Bocolod.

Under Fidel Ramos, the new Philippine Defense Secretary, the AFP command structure has been streamlined; twelve Regional Commands have been reduced to five. The. capture this year of several CPP Central Committee members, plus many other important cadres, indicates improved performances by intelligence services. Provincial and municipal Peace and Order Councils have been created, uniting the government and private sectors with the military to address insurgency and law and order concerns. Some local government officials complain that these councils represent an increase in the AFP's political power. But military officers in rural areas often complain they lack government support, which the councils are supposed to encourage.

46 David Jones, "N.Z. project's impact will be electric," 7he Press, June 24, 1987. 47 "Australian Council of Churches money goes to Philippines N.P.A.," News Weekly, May 11, 1988, p. 3. 48 Manny Mogato, "NPA got $8m abroad this year-Ileto," 7he Manila Chronicle, November 23, 1987, p. 1; "$15 M donated to CPP?"Manild Bulletin, August 30,1988, p. 1. 49 Marc Lerner, "Philippines' war with rebels finds no light, endless tunnel," 7he Washington 771mes, October 4, 1988, p. A9. 50 See the author's "Human Rights Groups Unfairly Turn Their Guns On the Philippines'Aquino," Heritage Foundation Backgrounder Update, No. 87, September 20,1988. Beefing Up the Police. Philippine police forces are carrying a greater part of the counterinsurgency effort, especially as the CPP increases urban operations. These forces are being reorganized so that the Philippine Constabulary will be united with the National Police.

'Me AFP is introducing a new counterinsurgency strategy in which small Special Operation Teams (SOT) are sent into CPP strongholds to counter CPP propaganda and address local grievances. Secured areas are to be protected by a Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU), to be drawn from reserve units and local recruits and trained by Special Forces instructors.

For this strategy to succeed will require increased local political support and more radios, rifles, transport vehicles, gasoline, and other resources. The AFP also lacks sufficient tactical air transport capabilities, and its World War H-vintage Navy transport ships should be replaced. Improvements in external defense capabilities, such as air defense, have almost been ignored, since the insurgency is the AFP's first priority. But this need may increase if the CPP begins to receive external support. Then the Philippine military will require more maritime patrol aircraft, like the Philippine Air Force's F-27, more medium-sized patrol ships, and attack aircraft like the F-5E.


Helping Manila win its war with the Communist Party of the Philippines remains a top priority for U.S. policy in Asia. As such, the Bush Administration must state clearly to the government of Corazon Aquino that the CPP presents not only a great danger to Philippine freedom but to stability in East Asia. If the CPP defeats democracy in the Philippines, this surely will end U.S. access to Philippine air and naval bases. If it receives increased Soviet support, the CPP could give Moscow access to these bases, just as former U.S. bases in Vietnam are now used by Soviet forces. Moreover, if it prevails in the Philippines, the CPP will seek to export revolution to its Southeast Asian neighbors.

Generous U.S. Aid. The Reagan Administration has recognized the necessity of helping Aquino foster economic recovery and combat the CPP. With bipartisan congressional support, since 1983, the U.S. has provided over $1.7 billion to the Philippines in economic and military aid. This far exceeds Washington's pledge of $900 million over five years made during the 1983 review of the Military Bases Agreement, which governs U.S. access to Philippine bases. For fiscal 1989, Washington has allocated $239.6 million in economic and military aid for Manila.

After difficult negotiations with the Philippine government, the Reagan Administration agreed on October 18 to seek $481 million in annual assistance to Manila as part of the final compensation package for the last two years of the current Military Bases Agreement that expires in 1991. Washington also has promised to increase access to U.S. markets for Philippine goods and to a complicated U.S. Treasury Bond swap to help ease the Philippines' $28 billion foreign debt. In a personal letter to Aquino, Reagan promised to support a multibillion dollar international assistance effort - without any assurance from Manila that U.S. military access will survive beyond 1991.

Because of Manila's excessive monetary compensation demands during the recent Military Bases Agreement review, however, as well as the abrasive rhetoric of Foreign Minister Raul Manglapus, bipartisan U.S. support for this aid no longer can be taken for granted. Some Pentagon officials are now even willing to move U.S. bases elsewhere. But to do so would give the CPP a major victory. The loss of U.S. assistance and revenue from the bases (estimated at $357 million annually) would be a blow to the economy of Central Luzon, thereby aiding CPP recruitment. A pending U.S. withdrawal would also tempt Moscow to increase aid to the CPP.

To preserve the U.S.-Philippine relationship and help Manila defeat the CPP, the U.S. should:

* * Ask Aquino to state publicly whether she wants the U.S.-PhiIippine military relationship to survive beyond the 1991 end of the current Military Bases Agreement. Because of her popularity, Aquino's support will be critical to maintaining Philippine support for this relationship. The U.S. must know what her intentions are so that it can plan for alternative basing options.

* * Ask Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand to join Singapore in declaring support for a continued U.S. military presence in the Philippines. Singapore President Lee Kwan Yew said last year that, if U.S. forces leave the Philippines, countries in Southeast Asia will have to "start a new way of life."51 A communist Philippines surely will aid communist parties in neighboring countries.

* * Increase U.S. military assistance from $200 million to $300 million annually to improve the Philippine military through purchase of additional uniforms, guns, ammunition, gasoline, trucks, and medicine.

* * Consider providing training assistance to Philippine police forces to improve their professionalism. The U.S. should fund cooperative training exchanges between police forces of U.S. and Philippine cities.

* * Help Manila purchase additional tactical transport aircraft and offer to start-- replacing World War 11 transport ships with new LSV 2 transport ships. The increased tempo of CPP operations has increased Manila's need for improved military transport capabilities.

* * Cooperate with Manila to identify CPP members in the U.S. If they are not U.S. citizens, and are found to be assisting the CPP, then the State Department should revoke their visas. CPP support groups should be forced to register as agents of a foreign entity to expose their link to the CPP.

51 David Van Praagh, "Lee Optimistic About US Bases in The Philippines," 7he Nation (Bangkok), September 14,1987.

Press allied and friendly governments to warn their citizens against supporting the CPP. They should follow the example of Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, who on November 29 warned Australians against participating in the January 1989 "peace brigade" to protest U.S. bases in the Philippines. The U.S. should set an example by refusing to give visas to CPP front leaders who seek to visit the U.S.

* + Warn Moscow that its growing relationship with the CPP threatens U.S.-Soviet relations. Washington should remind Moscow that it will honor its 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty with Manila if it is determined that Moscow has been aiding the CPP. Meanwhile, in its Asian public diplomacy, the U.S. should cite the CPP-Soviet relationship as evidence that Moscow still seeks to threaten free world interests in Asia.


The Communist Party of the Philippines remains the chief threat to Philippine democracy. The U.S. must contribute more to helping Manila defeat this threat, because if the CPP controlled the Philippines, it would rival the Khmer Rouge in inhumanity and possibly allow Moscow to dominate major sea lanes in Southeast Asia. 'Me U.S. must make clear to the government of Corazon Aquino that a continued military relationship between the Philippines and the U.S. will help form a bipartisan consensus to aid Manila economically and militarily and allow the U.S. forces to make good its military commitments to defend the Philippines. A termination of this relationship would tempt Moscow to increase its aid to the CPP, thereby increasing chances for an eventual CPP victory.

Richard D. Fisher Policy Analyst


Richard Fisher

Distinguished Fellow in China Policy