BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines — How do you smoke out an aswang before getting rid of it?
Philippine legend says the aswang, the nation’s version of the vampire, often look and act like ordinary townsfolk but at night, they shed their disguise and take in their real monstrous form. These monsters are almost invincible but their Achilles’ heel, their kryptonite is simply garlic, used to smoke them out and eventually destroy them.
It is then but apt that when the Reds decides to purge the ranks of possible infiltrators, they named their campaign – Kampanyang Ahos, or simply Kahos – after the eponymous cooking bulb.
Kahos eventually became a stain in the history of the Communist Party of the Philippines, overshadowing even other purges in other regions like Operation Plan Missing Link, and Olympia.
Alex de Jong, in his article Hunting Specters: A Political History of the Purges in the Communist Party of the Philippines, detailed how a Communist Party that was supposedly guided by the Marxist-Leninist ideology deviated from the ideological line and instead became eaten up first by a slowly eroding credibility after it misread the political circumstances that led to the eventual ouster of then President Marcos by declaring a boycott.
The much too swift recruitment among the ranks of the Reds had also resulted in a membership that was ill-equipped intellectually to toe the Party line.
There were also fears that there were government infiltrators within the ranks, leading to a witch hunt where comrades were invited to report to a guerrilla base, where they were then arrested and tortured and forced to confess.
Whether they confessed or not, the outcome was the same: they were executed for treason.
The series of purges went with different names according to de Jong’s article. The earliest was Kadena de Amor in 1981 in the Quezon-Bicol region, followed by Oplan Takipsilim in 1984 in parts of Southern Luzon, and almost simultaneously was Operation Zombie Cleaning in the North to Southern Mindanao region. Operation Missing Link was implemented in 1988 in Southern Tagalog, followed by Olympia in Metro Manila on that same year.
But the most notorious was Kahos in large parts of Mindanao, in 1985 to 1986.
It surpassed numbers of other purges with the number of victims numbering to 800.
That it went far too long than it should have, one of the factors identified was the unfailing and unflagging trust of the members to the Party and its leadership despite the fact that the Party had isolated itself by making fatal mistakes during the 1986 EDSA uprising and its failure to put itself front and center in the anti Marcos Movement.