BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Filipino Communists are fond of quoting Mao Zedong – whose revolution in China Jose Maria Sison copied.
“To be attacked by the enemy is a good thing,” their armed guerrillas in the bondoocks or Party cadres in their legal fronts would usually say.
Pancito Cenon III is definitely not a Party cadre or a Red fighter.
Already a major in his 30s, Cenon is the outgoing head of the Public Affairs Office of the 3rd Infantry Division, the military unit based in Panay island that commands thousands of soldiers in the Western Visayas region.
But he has been attacked by the Filipino communists and to him it’s a good thing.
“At least alam natin na may nakikinig pa naman sa atin (At least we know someone is listening to us),” Cenon says, apparently downplaying his role in leading a revitalized propaganda campaign by the Army in Region 6 under which are six provinces – Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental – with an estimated population of at least seven million people.
The six provinces are in three islands and the rebel movement, styled by its founder Jose Maria Sison as Maoist inspired, has been historically strong in two – Panay and Negros.
Too, the propaganda machinery of the rebels have been strong in the major urban centers of these islands – Bacolod and Dumaguete cities in Negros, and Iloilo City in Panay.
Former Communist Party cadres say the propaganda machinery is entirely dependent on the setting up of “legal fronts” in major cities that are not only the “wellsprings of young political cadres to be deployed to the countryside’s armed revolution” but are also “political and propaganda centers.”
This propaganda machinery is so strong in some areas that the Party has even managed to “infiltrate” mainstream media by putting up Party cells or collectives, military intelligence sources tell DNX.
Into this propaganda landscape entered Cenon more than two years – “two years, six months, and nine days” according to his count as of last week when the interview was conducted.
He was, back then, seemingly new to the polarized landscape, a soldier who loved mass communication and broadcasting.
In fact, reports said he became a member of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (Association of Broadcasters in the Philippines), the self-regulating body founded, ironically by former Philippine strongman Ferdinand Marcos Jr. whose Martial Law led to a shutdown of the Press.
Cenon’s love for mass communication is apparent in the fact that he is now pursuing a Masters degree in that field and, during his stint as 3rd ID DPAO chief, two pioneering Army radio programs were launched – the Spearhead Troopers Live and the Sundalong Musikero.
(to be continued)