HUNT FOR HUKS
April 10, 1948
Grown-up Males In Pampanga Are Being Screened For Possible Connection With Taruc’s Organization. Governor Lingad’s Slogan: “Peace At Any Cost.”
By Leon O. Ty
THE check-up of civilians in central and southern Luzon for possible connection with the Huks and PKMs has begun.
In Pampanga -birthplace and hotbed of communism in the Philippines- the youthful, fighting provincial governor, Jose B. Lingad, lost no time in carrying out President Manuel Roxas’s executive order outlawing the Huk and PKM organizations which was subsequently implemented by a lengthy, 14-point directive drafted by Secretary of the Interior Jose Zulueta.
Three FREE PRESS staffers went to Pampanga last week to gather first-hand information of the process. Their observations disclosed this one inescapable fact: that Huk Supremo Luis Taruc’s organizations is still strong with the Pampanga peasants. It is the belief of this writer that it may be a long time before the working class of that province can completely extricate itself, so to speak, from Huk control. This control may be based on mortal fear of Taruc’s “Gestapo,” or on the peasant’s honest belief that Taruc is a Redeemer, a Messiah, who will some day lead them out of a wilderness of economic misery to a land of plenty. That it exists cannot be doubted.
Governor Lingad did not follow strictly Secretary Zulueta’s impractical “screening” instructions. As a matter of fact, he practically discarded them and adopted a much simpler method of his own.
In the belief that screening every male and female person between the ages of 12 and 60 -as ordered by Zulueta- was impossible, Lingad is concentrating on the known radicals in every town and village and summoning them for questioning. Before the check-up began, however, he called the Pampanga municipal mayors and barrio lieutenants to a conference and discussed with them the most practical way to “screen” the Huk and PKM suspects.
The photograph requirement of Zulueta’s was done away with. The governor said it was not necessary since the town and barrio authorities know the inhabitants of their respective localities.
Lingad’s screening procedure can best be described by giving an example.
In Sta. Monica, which is a barrio of Lubao, the teniente del barrio summoned the grown-up male persons and ordered them to report to the village schoolhouse which had been temporarily converted into a “screening” station.
There, every Huk or PKM suspect was questioned by “screeners” composed of regular and special policemen. A questionnaire prepared by the Philippine Constabulary headquarters in Pampanga was used and later signed or thumbmarked (in the case of illiterate suspects) by the “screenee.” Two government witnesses affixed their signatures to the questionnaire.
Having answered the 28 queries in the questionnaire, the screenee was next taken to an adjoining room for fingerprinting. As soon as this was finished, he was given a sort of clearance, or certificate stating, among other things, that he had been thoroughly “screened.” After that, he was sent home.
Governor Lingad was asked why “screenees” found to be members of the Huk and PKM organizations were not detained.
“There’s no need for that,” he replied. “I know that they will not run away from their homes. Almost all of them are peaceful, law-abiding citizens. If they are affiliated with the Huks, as almost every farmer in this province is, it is because they had been coerced.”
Simple as the foregoing procedure of checking-up may seem, it took almost one full hour to “screen” just one person. At that rate, it will take not less than two years to “screen” the Huk and PKM suspects in Pampanga, according to the governor.
“It would take a much longer time if we followed the complicated procedure in Zulueta’s directive,” he stated. “We have in this province about half a million inhabitants and a total voting population of not less than 110,000. You can easily figure out how long it would take to screen the voters alone.”
In the course of the check-up, the “screeners” obtained vital information concerning the leaders of the Huk and PKM organizations as well as their activities, and also atrocities allegedly committed by their members.
A former school teacher, Abelardo Zuñiga, 42, who is now residing in Lubao as a law-abiding citizen, disclosed the following:
“Before the Huks came to Lubao, I was a Usaffe guerrilla under Bernia. But when they came, I was appointed chairman of the Huk barrio council of San Pedro Palcarangan, Lubao. Later, I was assigned to the OD (organization department) of the Huk army.
“The barrio council, otherwise known as STB, is the governing body of the barrio people. It is dictated to by the Huks. It is under obligation to collect 10 percent of their produce from the farmers and the barrio inhabitants, which goes directly to the Huks. The STB is composed of a chairman who acts as head of the council; a vice-chairman; a secretary; treasurer who keeps the collections; and a chief of defense who is responsible for the security of the Huks when they are billeted in the barrio. The officer also acts as chief intelligence for the Huks.”
The OD undertakes the organization of the barrio council and the dissemination of Huk principles and ideology, Zuñiga stated further.
What relationship if any, exists, between the Huks and the members of the PKM?
“The members of the Huk forces come from the ranks of the PKM,” Zuñiga said. “The unarmed PKMs work side by side with the Huk fighting men in that they supply them (the Huks) with arms and ammunition, food, clothing, medicines, and pertinent information.”
“Peace At Any Cost”?
Zuñiga mentioned no less than 30 of his former Huk “comrades” who are still active members of the Huk organization. According to him, he knew these men personally as he had worked with them for quite some time.
At present Zuñiga is in Lubao. He said he was relieved of his position in the Huk army due to failing health. As a reward for surrendering to the authorities, Governor Lingad said he would give Zuñiga a position in the government.
A former member of Huk Squadron 19 named Pineda told the following story:
“After the liberation, we formed an organization under the leadership of the famous Huk chief Linda Bie. Our purpose was to overthrow the existing government by force. Then we would establish our own government. We were made to believe that the Commonwealth government then was a puppet of the Americans.”
Pineda answered the question often raised by many people as to where the Huks get their seemingly inexhaustible supply of good.
“We are supported by the people,” he said. “Whenever we camp in a barrio, each house in the locality is required to give one chupa of rice for our sustenance. This is collected by PKM and the CLO members. These organizations are Huk-sponsored and are under the Huk high command. The PKM is an organization of the farmers while the CLO is composed of industrial workers.”
Pineda was asked if he had known of any killings by his companions during his active affiliation with the Huk army.
“Yes, sir,” he replied. “As far as I can remember, those I know whom the Huks killed were Miguel and Ricardo Razon, Felix Tolentino, Francisco Kabiling, Graciano Rivera and Apolonio Mendoza. There were also many others.”
In his sworn statement, Pineda mentioned the names of several other persons who have been earmarked for “liquidation” by the Huks. Among them are Governor Lingad and officers and men of the Philippine Constabulary.
“Do you know of any organization in Manila which has been established to overthrow the government and in its place institute the Huk government?” Pineda was asked.
“The CLO, sir, or Congress of Labor Organization.”
An ex-Huk named Luciano Cubacub, also of Lubao, supported Pinedaâs statements, especially with respect to the role played by he PKM and the CLO in the maintenance of the Huk army.
Another surrendered Huk, Sancho Manabat, who was connected with Squadron 38 under Huk Leader Calixto Espinoza, Alias “Yabutâ” declared under oath the Huks are propagandized by political directors.
“The political director implants in the minds of the members the principles of hate and revenge against the landowners. Or anybody who is hostile to the Huk cause”; “The Huk group was organized to overthrow the present government and in its place establish a government of its own in accordance with the principles of Communism.”
Manabat reiterated the role played by the PKM and the CLO groups in the maintenance of the Huk fighting forces.
“A lot of civilians have been killed and kidnapped by the Huks,” Manabat disclosed. “These civilians were reportedly hostile to them. Even those merely suspected as hostile have also been snatched and killed. Some of the Huk victims I know were Jose Guinto, Emiliano Cunanan, Pablo Cubacub, Lugtu, Gonzalo Martinez, Victoriano Manabat, and several others.”
As to their source of arms and ammunition, Manabat stated that the Huks steal them “from Palacol Landing at Floridablanca, Clark Field at Stotsenberg, and from civilians.” Some are purchased from the buy-and-sell market, he added.
One of those “screened” last Friday was an old man named Juan Tanjuakio, a farmer of Sta. Monica.
He told the writer that he was a member of the PKM, though not an active one.
“I joined it because I was told that if I didn’t, the Huks won’t allow me to till my land,” Tanjuakio confessed. “The man who asked me to join did not threaten me with physical injury, if I refused, but there is no alternative for any farmer here except to be a PKM. It is not safe to turn down a Huk offer, no matter what it is.”
Tanjuakio said he had paid the local treasurer his fees three times at the rate of P1 each collection day. In addition, he had given six gantas of rice as his share of the usual 10 percent levy.
Asked if he knew the aims and purpose of the PKM, Tanjuakio and that the man who had sought his membership told him the organization was intended “to promote love and unity among its members” and “to fight against the government.” He also confessed that he did not know the top Huk and PKM leaders.
“Are you not afraid of being screened?” the writer interrogated the old man.
“I am not,” he replied in a weak voice. “I do not know what this means.”
After talking to several Huk and PKM suspects, the writer asked one of the “screeners” -a policeman named Jose Sibug for his findings in the course of the check-up.
Sibug said he had already screened 80 suspects and all but one were members of the Huk and PKM organizations.
“Many of them refused to answer incriminating questions,” Sibug stated, “They all told me that they joined the PKM and Huk groups because they had been threatened.”
Prosecution for sedition and rebellion as well as murder, will soon be filed against “screenees” who made positive statements about their membership in the Huk and PKM organizations, Governor Lingad told the FREE PRESS.
“I’ll file a few test cases,” Lingad said, “and leave the rest to the provincial fiscal. I’ll fight these lawless elements here if it kills me. In this law and order campaign, my slogan is ‘peace at any cost.’”