|Manila Ministry Part 2
| April 2001
This Edition March, 2005
MANILA MINISTRY PART 2
The Family's involvement in Filipino Politics
By Ed Priebe
For several years, prior to the Manila Military Ministry, Mo had written extensively about the Endtime, and in 1985 he developed the doctrine of the Anti-Antichrists (the AACs). This was brought out in “AC Wars and the BOPS” (ML 2125, Jan.85), “More on the AC Wars” (ML 2124, Jan.85), and “Antichrist Wars Before the Covenant” (ML 2193, May, 86). In the Fall of 1986 when Mo had Apollos compile “The Red Menace” for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), linking communism with the Antichrist, the AAC doctrine was an integral part of it. Every officer and soldier who read it or heard it, was told:
“Communism is not just another governmental system or political party!—It is the very embodiment of ‘the spirit of Antichrist’ (1Jn.4:3). The Bible says that when the Antichrist demands the World’s worship, that millions of people of the Earth—whole nations & whole religions of devout worshipers of God who are not unbelievers but truly love God—will realize that this powerful World leader is not a good man, is not the savior of the World as he claims, & they will rebel against him, some countries & religions even going to war with him rather than worship him & accept his mark! (Dan.11:40–45) God is going to bless the countries & people who refuse to be swept under the Antichrist’s red tide of Godless atheism & Devil-worship! And though the World will be thrown into 3-1/2 years of the worst turmoil & trouble it has ever known as the forces of the Antichrist war against the Godly forces who resist & oppose him, some nations will withstand & escape his total domination.” (The Red Menace, ML 2246)
As I mentioned in my first article, Mo had come out with the “Heaven’s Girl” series and by 1986, Apollos was involved nearly full time in writing the adventures of Marie Claire, HG. While he was doing that, I was placed in charge of the “Endtime Bible” project, and began to rewrite all the Family’s Endtime Bible classes. I began with Daniel, and just as I began to compile/write Mat.24, the “What If?” series (ML 2211) came out in May, 1986. Up till then, the Family’s former, doctrine had remained constant for the past 20 years. So quotes like the following twisted my brain like a pretzel:
“What if this is true? What if television is the Image of the Beast? They’re already worshiping the Image of the Beast! If the Image of the Beast is already here & the Antichrist has already set himself up in the temple [men’s hearts] to be worshipped, then where is the Tribulation? (Fam: Right now!) You got the point! We’re in it, it’s here! Now! It’s not so bad after all . . . We can look forward & rejoice instead of looking forward & worrying about the Tribulation, ‘How am I going to be able to bear it? How can it stand it?’ If this is the Tribulation, wow, what’s Heaven going to be like!” (2211:73,184,189,191)
I was dismayed as Family leaders began praying prayers like the following, “Lord, keep our shoppers safe as they go out shopping today in the Great Tribulation.” I couldn’t believe the “What If” series and lost all heart for working on the Endtime Bible project as a result. Later Mo began to modify this doctrine and bring the Family back to more literal interpretations. He chuckled over how the “What If” doctrine had “thrown our best teachers of orthodoxy for a loop.”
One thing I never did question—because I saw no reason to at the time—was our involvement in the Military Ministry. Not only was I sold on the AAC doctrine at the time (and therefore the “need” to raise up strong anti-Antichrist nations) but I believed that what we were involved in was right. And for the first seven months, our Military Ministry simply consisted of leading AFP officers to the Lord, giving them Bible studies, and providing purely moral support.
Family members had the approval of no less than Fidel Ramos—Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces—to have free access to camps Crame and Aguinaldo. Now, with the enthusiastic endorsement of AFP Generals, former MWM musicians sang for large gatherings of enlisted men and American brothers like Zadok read “The Red Menace” to the troops. Many Filipinos had joined the military simply because they needed a job. The officers were glad that our tract now gave their men the vision they needed to defend their nation from communism and the coming AC world government.
“The Red Menace” was mass printed and distributed amongst rank-and-file troops, funded by donations from AFP officers. Of course, WS was largely underwriting the Military Ministry, but it was a hefty expense. So, while I was living at the Hilltop, I was asked to write a story promoting the Scriptural reasons and the need for tithing. I wrote “The Windows of Heaven,” (Good Thots, pg. 288) to encourage AFP officers to give to the Family, since we were the ones producing the Word (DFs) for them, and giving them moral support. Over time, different Generals and officers gave monthly pledges to help support our Military Ministry, and some began outright tithing to the Family.
One of the most receptive and powerful Generals—and most faithful to give—was Gen. Almonte. As late as 1989-90, women continued going to the Camps in teams of two. My wife, Amy, often accompanied a sister named Angela, particularly to Camp Aguinaldo. Before going to his office, Angela would call ahead of time to make an appointment with his secretary, R. They then prepared some Daily Food materials for Gen. Almonte to read. Amy said, “I was the one who went with Angela as her partner most of the time, when we visited Gen. L., Gen. M., Gen. Almonte and other officers such as D., etc. If Gen. Almonte was in his office when we came by, we would talk a bit, then Angela would read him a bit from a new Daily Food, and then when it was time for us to go, he would reach into a drawer in his desk and pull out an envelope. He would say, "Here's my monthly obligation for the Lord." It was often hard to get ahold of the General, however, so if we didn't see him for a couple months, or if we were going to visit him but he was busy in his office, he would leave his tithe in an envelope with his secretary, R., who would give it to Almonte.
In the next section, I quote extensively from the newspaper columns of the fictional Filipino, “Y.S. Flores.” While I no longer endorse what we wrote in those newspaper articles, I quote them to help Family members and ex-members understand the situation that existed in the Philippines at that time, so they’ll better understand what we were thinking, what we were reacting to, and why we did what we did.
Y.S. FLORES REBUKES A NATION
Soon our Military Ministry entered a new phase. As we provided moral support to the AFP, talked with them and tuned in to their concerns, one thing became clear: as the Aquino administration was making unprecedented peace overtures to the communists—including releasing top communist prisoners from jail—many officers were becoming alarmed. The Minister of Defense, Juan Ponce Enrile, was the most outspoken critic of Cory’s approach, and as a result, for months he had been taking heat in the press. Since Enrile was the strongest, loudest anti-communist person in the Philippines, Mo decided that to save the nation, we needed to rally people around him.
One of the Family’s longtime friends in the Philippines was a man named Ben Rodriguez, editor-in-chief of the “Manila Bulletin.” The “Bulletin” was the most widely-read newspaper in the Philippines, and since the Philippines had a population of about 65 million people, you get an idea of how huge the paper’s circulation and readership was. In the early 1980's, the local Family had begun the “Daily Might” ministry, and every day, DM readings would appear in the Bulletin. These were mostly milky devotionals dealing with basic Christian principles, with moderate Family doctrine included. Eventually the DM ministry ran its course and ended.
We had gotten out the message of “The Red Menace” to the military; now Mo decided decided to print it in the Manila Bulletin to warn the entire nation. It therefore appeared in two parts: “The Red Menace” (Oct.2, 1986), and “The Red Beast Exposed” (Oct.3, 1986) Since the article had to have an author, the name “J.P. Paulo” was added to it. With the DM readings now a thing of the past, Ben suggested to the local Family that they write weekly newspaper articles, which he promised to print in his paper. Mo was thrilled when he heard this, and Maria sent me the draft of a new, unpublished ML, which I was told to edit and rewrite in the form of a newspaper article.
Of course, the article could not appear to have been written by an Americano, as Filipinos would have protested at foreign interference in their internal affairs. Someone therefore came up with the Filipino pen name, “Y.S. Flores.” For the next several months, Apollos and myself—and sometimes James Penn—would write articles for the Bulletin as Y.S. Flores. Ben, of course, knew that Y.S. was not a Filipino. He also knew that these articles had the stamp of top Family leadership on them. A sister, Charity, took the very first Y.S. Flores article, “Christianity: the powerful force” to Ben. In this article, Mo and Maria had me urge Filipinos to back Enrile, saying:
“In their complacent attitude towards Communism, and their willingness to stand by and do nothing while the military is vilified and Minister Enrile is discredited, some of our people remind me very much of the people in Noah’s day . . . I’d say the sacrifice of our military men far outweighs any damage they may have done in the past, and they deserve our unreserved support. Likewise, whatever Minister Enrile’s present faults or past mistakes, I am compelled to admire his conviction and desire to do something. But he cannot do it alone! . . . We must speak against Communism, write against it, preach against it, organize against it, pray against it!—And support and pray for those who are leading the fight against it! . . . What about you? In question is the survival of a nation! Christ gives a scathing condemnation to those who sit on the fence and won’t take sides.”
Ben practically wept. He told Charity that he didn’t agree with it, couldn’t take such a stand and didn’t want to print it. He asked, “Why can’t you stay out of this military stuff and just preach the gospel?” Nevertheless, Mo insisted and the article was published in the “Manila Bulletin,” Oct.12, 1986. In the following months, many more articles by Y.S. Flores were printed in the “Bulletin.” Among these were:
“Christianity: the Powerful Force” (Oct.12, 1986) Y.S. Flores
- “The World Bank & IMF” (Nov.2, 1986) Y.S. Flores
- “A Red Take-Over?” (Nov.6, 1986) Y.S. Flores
- “Are Christianity and Communism Compatible?” (Nov.14, 1986) Y.S. Flores
- “You Cannot Make Peace with the Reds!” (Nov.19, 1986) Y.S. Flores
- “30 Days!” (Nov.22, 1986) Y.S. Flores
- “The Wrath of God!” (Nov.23, 1986) Y.S. Flores
- “The Red Samaritan!” (Dec.7, 1986) Y.S. Flores
- “How to Solve our Economic Crisis!” (Dec.11, 1986) Y.S. Flores
- “U.S. Bases: Pay Up!” (Dec.28, 1986) Y.S. Flores
- “Can Christians Survive Under a Red Gov’t?” (Jan.18, 1987) Y.S. Flores
- “Jesus or Marx?” (Feb.14, 1987) Y.S. Flores
- “The Two Faces of Communism!” (Mar.1, 1987) Y.S. Flores
scans of above published newspaper articles)
Mo had several motives for us being involved in a ministry toward the Philippine military. The first reason, as he related in his Letters about the “Anti-Antichrists,” was that he believed certain nations would be AAC nations who would rise up and fight the AC, and he wanted a strong military in the Philippines who could do that. It could be argued that this was a good motive—Mo didn’t want Filipinos to receive the Mark of the Beast—but a lot of incredible military meddling and subversive activity was based upon what was, after all, a bizarre interpretation of verses in Daniel.
Eventually, our focus would change from helping create “a strong military” to helping overthrow the Aquino administration to put “a strong military junta” in its place. This was in keeping with Mo’s belief that dictatorships were far preferable to democracies. As Mo said, “So-called democratic voting is the worst kind of government there is! Maybe I’m going to shock some of you, but I think a dictatorship is the best form of government there is, where the dictator runs everything, dictates all the laws, appoints all the officials, no votes, no elections. That’s the most efficient, best form of government there is!—Providing that you have a good dictator who best of all is a divinely-appointed king, appointed by God Himself & a man of God who dictates the right things!” (ML 2244:37–38)
A second reason, as I already brought out, was that Mo believed that the military was a very large, ripe mission field, and it was easy to lead these nominally Catholic men to the Lord. In fact, apart from the need for them to be saved, there was a very military reason for the Armed Forces becoming committed Christians. If they took their faith seriously, knew their Bibles and believed that they were living in the End Times, they’d believe that atheistic communism was the forerunner of the Antichrist world empire, and that it was essential that they fight it. (The evangelical churches in the Philippines were usually much more right-leaning and anti-communist than that Catholics.)
Initially, Mo’s motives were for us to prevent an Antichrist takeover of the Philippines. However, once he identified the communists with the coming AC government—then became aware of how real the communist threat was in the Philippines—focus shifted from a doctrinal, Endtime motivation to the much more immediate goal of stopping the communist New People’s Army from taking over the country.
As Y.S. Flores wrote in “You Cannot Make Peace With the Reds!”:
“To try to make peace with the Communists is to compromise with the Devil’s own anti-Christ forces who are bent on destroying Christian civilisation and establishing the Devil’s own Antichrist government! . . . To believe that the NPA will voluntarily cease their struggle, lay down their arms and lovingly and pacifistically come “back to the fold” is a pipe dream that will never be fulfilled! The only reason they want a ceasefire is to keep the armed forces confined so they can continue to take over our country! They want the military to promise not to act, so that they can act! . . . Will our beloved country be next to join the ranks of the World’s Marxist dictatorships?”
This was not an entirely rhetorical question: By 1986, although the military was in control of the cities and towns, millions of Filipinos in the provinces were ruled by the communists. As the article, “The Wrath of God,” stated: “The government’s present policy of merely trying to ‘contain’ them [the NPA] is obviously not working, and the Communists have already seized de facto control of over 20 percent of our nation’s population! Think of it!—One in every five Filipinos lives under a repressive Communist regime right now!”
As our researchers in Manila went to the local Christian book stores and bought every anti-communist books they could get their hands on, they came up with hard facts about the mass murders and purges the communists had committed in nations around the world. We became convinced of the righteousness of our anti-communist stance, and the desperate need to mobilize the military.
In the article, “A Red Takeover?” we showed how the conditions between the Philippines in 1986, and Russia just before the Bolshevik Revolution, were almost identical. Then we began quoting how many millions of people—many of them Christian—that different communist regimes had ruthlessly butchered: 9 million in Russia and 20 million in China. In 1986, the memory of the “Killing Fields” of Cambodia was still fresh, and “A Red Takeover?” pointed out how Pol Pot had “systematically exterminated 3.4 million people, over one-third of the nations’ population.” It said, “These facts are grim reminders of what compromise with ‘our brothers in the hills’ could lead to.”
Pope Pius XI, Winston Churchill, Gen. MacArthur and other statesmen had all warned against compromising with the Communists, stating that Marxists merely used “peace negotiations” to take over. Mo became convinced—as our friends in the military already were—that the only way to deal with the communists was to fight them and wipe them out.
In “The Wrath of God!” (“Manila Bulletin,” Nov.23, 1986), following Mo’s instructions, I said that fighting communism was a righteous cause since Jesus Himself would one day wage war against them (Rev.19:11–15,19): “Here we see Jesus Christ Himself personally leading us—His Army—to completely conquer and destroy the Red armies of the Antichrist!” I used very strong language telling the Philippine military to wipe out the communists, saying: “And to the pacifistic preachers and false teachers who would cry, ‘No, no, we must continue to love our enemies, it’s time they read the rest of the Bible!—In the Old Testament, God repeatedly commanded His people to fight and attack their enemies!. . . to utterly destroy their foes!”
These “foes” initially represented the NPA. But “foes” was rapidly coming to mean the government of president Aquino herself, which Mo and much of the military believed was compromising with ‘our brothers in the hills’ and selling the country out to the Reds. Therefore, our job in providing moral support against the communists soon also meant polarizing moderate officers, turning them against the “commie-coddling” Aquino administration.
LIVEABLE WAGES & LAND REFORM
There was a fourth and very important reason for Y.S. Flores shouting out a warning to the nation, although it did not have direct ties to what we were doing in our Military Ministry. That was that Mo had often gone on pro-communist rants advocating the rich sharing with the poor. One of his longtime heros was Fidel Castro of Cuba. Through the years he had talked about sustainable wages for the poor and land reform. Now in the Philippines, he (through Y.S. Flores) began lecturing the very rich Filipinos who held the majority of the land, while most of the population had little or no land.
They were an easy target.
Three-fifths of the Philippines 68 million people live and work on farmland. The vast majority of them—70 per cent—earn too little to even have a proper diet. Why? Five percent of farming families (the ultra rich) own around 80 per cent of the land. The other 95 percent are landless or sharecroppers. It’s not that Filipinos have never seen the need for agrarian reform; their first land reform program was in 1745! Obviously it wasn’t successful. There was another attempt in 1936, once again in 1946 after WW2, in 1972, and finally in 1986 Cory Aquino came up with the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Even the IMF/World Bank—whom Mo accused of meddling in Philippine internal affairs—told them to get their act together and legislate land reform. Why then did every single attempt fail, including CARP under Aquino? Because Congress has always been dominated by wealthy landowners. They were not about to pass through legislation that gave away their wealth and vast estates.
Although Mo wasn’t aware of the history of land reform in the Philippines, he did have a basic understanding of the need for it. In his first blast against the Communism in “The Red Menace”—talking about the communists—he stated:
“He shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers’ fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, & spoil, & riches. And he shall divide the land for gain.” —Bible (Dan.11:24, 39) What does the Bible say the last anti-God World empire’s economic policy will be?: “He shall divide the land for gain”. What is one of the greatest economic problems of the World today in nearly every country?—The rich own most of the land.—A very small minority of people own a very large majority of the land. And a very very large majority of “small people” have little or no land. Right now in Socialist countries, they’re taking the gigantic estates of the rich and dividing them up amongst the poor!—Something that some of the wealth Churches should have done long ago with their gigantic multi-million-dollar properties! They should have divided their land so that the poor would gain!”
When I lived at the Hilltop, Mo was constantly giving us lectures on how the government needed to pay livable wages to the poor. Mo even paid the Filipino workers who had built the security fence around our property, to sit and listen to his lecture against the rich. I sat in on that one, while Filipino L. translated his talk into Tagalog. The workers agreed. They had no love for rich “crocodiles” either. I particularly remember Mo’s lecture one day inside the Brick House where, after accusing Cory Aquino or being a closet communist, he pointed out that though she said she was all for land reform, she refused to set the example by dividing up her family’s own huge estate, Hacienda Luisita.
Mo was certainly right on this last point. “Human Rights”, issue 244 (June, 1993), talked about Corazon Aquino’s “noble though often weak and misguided efforts to right the wrongs of the Marcos dictatorship. Aquino was considered to have failed on many fronts, particularly land reform and improving the lot of the poor who remained in the stranglehold of poverty whilst an elite minority grew richer.”
Mo continually hammered away at this theme:
Nothing has changed, except there are a new set or rich running the country! I have said time & again through my writings, very few of the rich will ever give up their riches! Even with their revolutionary government & Cory Aquino & all her idealism, she hasn’t given up HER estate YET! She hasn’t given one little acre of it to anybody yet!—20 miles square! I think the Communists were convinced . . . that her government was no more willing to force the rich to divide the land for gain than Marcos was! They’ve got a few thousand rich who own all the property, all the money & all the government, & millions & millions & millions of poor starving hungry suffering landless poor! It’s just about enough to make a Communist out of almost anybody!” ("The Philippines Has Had It!” ML 2037:39–40,45,48,50)
I believe that if a military junta HAD taken over and Mo had had any say as an advisor behind the scenes, that he would have pushed for fair wages for the poor and land reform. This is demonstrated by the fact that as much as he even hated the Aquino administration, he exhorted THEM about land reform. But did Mo actually PLAN to get a military junta in power in the hopes that they’d then implement land reform? No. He repeatedly stated that Corazon Aquino was the country’s last chance:
“Aquino was their last chance, frankly! Here they got rid of the so-called ‘dictator’ & his cronies & grabbed all his riches & his companies & his lands. What are they doing with it?–Are they sharing?—No! Cory & her government boast that they are the country’s last chance—I agree—and they’ve muffed it! This was the last chance. He gave all those religious, supposed-to-be-Christians, their last chance in Cory’s government. I believe this is their last chance & they are rejecting it! The rich Christians are being given their last chance to share with the poor, & they are flatly refusing to do so! That government is the end! It will be the last non-Communist government of the Philippines, because God is giving them their last chance & they’re muffing it!” (ML 2307:55,58,72,91)
Mo made a plea to the Aquino administration. In “The Red Samaritan!—Who Will Feed the Poor?—Christians or Communists” (published in the Dec.7, 1986 edition of the “Bulletin”). He had Apollos give rich Filipinos a savage tongue-lashing, stating that the reason for the communist insurgence was the rich’s selfish lack sharing with the poor, and that God was going to judge the Philippines by allowing a communist takeover. The article ended, saying: “No amount of military might is going to be able to protect us if God is angry with us for not protecting and helping our own poor! If we do not repent and open our arms and our bank accounts and share our lands and wealth with the poor of the nation . . . then our religion is not true Christianity anyway, and we might as well have Communism! What will we do? Repent? Or perish?”
The powerful and rich were the very ones blocking those needed changes. Time and again, they had stopped every effort to bring about agrarian reform. And these were the same wealthy, right-wing politicians who—if the military HAD overthrown Aquino in a coup—would have received even more power, and been even less inclined to implement land reform. (Ramos, the former head of the military, later ruled the Philippines for 6 years; he accomplished some good, but like every President before him, did not implement comprehensive land reform.)
The rich lady who rented us the Hilltop property in Antipolo loved all the pro-military newspaper articles, but she really choked over “The Red Samaritan.” I imagine most well-to-do Filipinos did. I myself had written an article entitled, “How To Solve Our Economic Crisis!” (published in the “Manila Bulletin,” Dec.11, 1986) admonishing Filipinos to give to the poorest of the poor, the beggar children at the traffic lights, and to help poor families start up cottage industries, but even Ben Rodriguez protested, “You’ll only be encouraging beggars.” Yet the line in the article that still stands out to me describes a 10-year old beggar boy: “Surely he couldn’t be making more than a few pesos a day by practically risking his life dodging traffic and breathing the toxic fumes from hundreds of cars. Then the question that hit me in the guts: “Ano kaya kung anak ko siya?” (What if that was my child?”)
I apologize if I’ve belabored this subject, but it’s an important one to me. I’ve lived in the Philippines and I have seen the grinding poverty, and my wife is Filipina and has personally spent months living in a squatter’s village on the outskirts of Manila where the streets run with sewer and are filled with garbage and disease. You can’t see those kind of things—and see Filipino children being raised in that kind of environment—without being moved and wanting social justice.
This is why Apollos, James and myself were more than ready to be “a pen in the hand of a ready writer.” But Mo was too shrill, too angry and too impatient to be the voice of truth for the Philippines. His own life and harsh policies disqualified him from being an advocate of social justice. Consider that he instigated the Family’s own Detention Center in Macao and Victor Camps around the world where dissenting and “disobedient” Family members were sent to do hard labor and receive ”retraining.”
Maybe some day Filipinos will enjoy their dream of “7 hectares of land each,” but it will have to happen through a referendum and a groundswell of demand among Filipinos, maybe another People Power Revolution. But it will have to be a Filipino revolution, not something foisted upon them from the outside.
NO RIGHT TO INTERFERE
What also disqualified Mo—and us busy little WS workers—was that we were not Filipinos, but Americans and foreigners interfering in internal Philippine politics. What about Filipinos doing the same thing? We must let the Filipino people be the judge of that. And they have judged: Although Juan Ponce Enrile tried to overthrow the Aquino administration in a coup, he was a Filipino, and the government and people eventually forgave his radical past and he sits today as a respected and powerful member of the Philippine Senate—As does Gringo Honasan, who personally led two bloody, violent coup attempts and is responsible for the death of hundreds! His nation forgave him too after he signed a personal peace treaty with the government. Astonishingly, he too is now a Philippine Senator. Filipinos can be a very forgiving people, feeling that if former rebels (whether right wing or communist) are willing to lay down their guns and become part of the democratic process, the past is forgiven.
We in WS, however, had no right being involved in military coups and destabilizing the government of the Philippines. We had no more right to do that than the American CIA would have had. Despite the misguided good that Mo insisted that he wanted to accomplish (saving the Philippines from the Mark of the Beast, or saving them from communism) it was morally wrong and illegal of us to egg on military coups. And it was totally unnecessary! The Philippines has STILL not fallen to the communists, all these years later.
Besides, it simply wouldn’t have worked. The military of any nation is the protector of the rich and the status quo, not the dismantler of it. With few exceptions, only communist leaders make sweeping economic/social changes when they come to power. (By the way, that is why Mo still respected Castro even after he turned strongly anti-Communist. Castro had done the one thing Mo said was vitally important—he had divided the land with the poor.)
Mo’s prediction that Aquino’s soft approach was selling the country out to the Communists was a fairly common opinion. It was clearly not a prophetic viewpoint, but he did have a right to hold those views. What Mo did NOT have a right to do, however, was to become directly involved in internal Philippine political and military affairs—mobilizing manpower and money in an attempt to overthrow the government.
Mo was also pushing the Philippines to take a harder line toward the U.S. bases in the Philippines. He had an article written entitled, “U.S. Bases: Pay Up!” (published in the Dec.28, 1986 edition of the “Bulletin”) stating in very strong language that the Americans were ripping the Filipinos off and not paying them what they deserved for the use of Subic naval facilities and Clark air base.—And creating a massive prostitution problem in the process! The article wrapped up with the stinging statement, “It’s easy to see that to the higher-ups in the US government, we are still the ‘little brown brothers’ who can be placated with a few greenbacks!”
The fact that the Americans and the CIA were on the side of the Aquino government made Mo angry at them as well. While we were pushing the Philippine military to launch coups and overthrow the government, the U.S. was taking the side of the Aquino administration. In one major coup attempt, the Americans sent fighter jets up from Clark Air Base on Philippine soil, and attacked Philippine tanks involved in a coup, and it was the American air force that tipped the scales in that putsch.
Of course, the coup plotters kept hoping the CIA would finally come around to their side and see that Aquino was too pro-Communist and that it was in America’s interests to get rid of her. That is the main reason that Filipino politicians who were in on upcoming coup attempts, trusted white Americano Family members enough to tell them their plans. They thought our brothers were members of the CIA. The brothers never informed them differently. (There were numerous politicians involved in the coup plotting as well—mostly Marcos Loyalists and others who looked forward to a position of power within a post-coup government.)
As the months went by and coup after coup failed, and finally when the Family started getting media persecution in February, 1987, Mo lost his patience and became shriller and shriller. The Y.S. Flores articles became very pointed and very anti-government. Ben went as far as he could go, but when Mo finally had Y.S. Flores write a heavy article that attacked Corazon Aquino personally, Ben refused to publish it, saying that to print it would put his newspaper in danger of being sequestered (seized) by the Aquino government. Ben felt compelled to write a letter—which I read—explaining his position, and Mo wrote “red writers” on Ben’s letter, labeling him a “compromising Cory-ite.” The outreach Home in Manila ended up taking the Flores’ article to a small right-wing newspaper who was more than happy to print an exclusive article by Y.S. Flores.
Something Ben pointed out in his letter, which I felt was significant, was regarding our approach. He chided us for our heavy-handed approach toward the communists. He mentioned that yes, there was another columnist for his paper—as I recall, Jesus Bigornia—who strongly opposed the communists, but said that Bigornia was, despite his sharp jibes, “sensitive to Filipino issues.” Ben was being very diplomatic, but was all but telling us that we were typically pushy Americanos intruding on internal Philippine issues, because we thought that Filipinos couldn’t manage their own affairs properly themselves.
In the beginning, the Y.S. Flores articles had condemned left-leaning priests and nuns, and told the military to go and wage “righteous war” to “utterly annihilate” them. After coup after coup failed, however, and Mo was again reminded that the lack of land reform was what literally caused the communist problem in the Philippines, he did some rethinking and concluded: “Why are so many good people, church people, Christians, sincere, genuine, honest priests & nuns sympathizing with the communists & working with them, even taking up guns & shooting with them? Because they’re convinced that the poor are right & they’re convinced that the Communists are right, that that’s the only way they’ll ever get their just share, & I am too!” (2037:57)
This was a fine conclusion to come to after one full year of backing the right-wing coup plotters.
There are other reasons for this change as well, and I will discuss them in the next article.
In my first article I talked about the Baptist evangelist, Tony Campolo, who peacefully brought about great economic changes in Dominican Republic. If you want to check out what he did, read http:///money.crosswalk.com/articles/0,9079,80~1007,00.htm Here is a brief summary. When asked, “When did you first begin social activism in response to corporate behavior?” Tony Campolo answered, “We had some concerns about an American company called Gulf and Western. The company had taken over a sugar company in the Dominican Republic and was strongly accused of exploiting workers, breaking labor unions, and engaging in other illegal practices.”
When asked how G&W responded to his challenge, Campolo replied, “First, they developed a medical program with Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City to provide medical services for people throughout the eastern part of the country. Second, they put a lot of money into developing projects that would help the Dominican people. The company ended up making a commitment of $100 million a year for five years. That's huge. Half a billion dollars in a small country like the Dominican Republic can have awesome ramifications. G&W put a significant amount of money into diversifying the economy. To encourage economic development, G&W worked very hard to make loans available to people who wanted to go into business. They also invested in other economic alternatives, which has been the salvation of the eastern half of the country since the sugar price drop in the international market.”
What if we had used our voice and contacts to push for social justice, like Tony Campolo did in the Dominican Republic? Would it have worked? We will never know. I do, however, know that we should NOT have gotten involved in egging the military into throwing coups. Yes, it can be argued that any other approach to bring about social justice would have failed. But it should ALSO be remembered that every coup failed as well. Despite the endless man-hours Mo and WS invested in trying to overthrow the Aquino administration, nothing came of it. In the final analysis, what did we accomplish? Besides, it’s not whether what we did would have succeeded or failed, but whether we were trying to do the right thing.
It should be pointed out that Mo did not have a clear sense of social justice, and therefore had no moral mandate, period, in being an activist in Philippine politics. After all, he and Maria would soon launch the Victor’s Program, where hundreds of Family members, especially teens, would do hard physical labor while going through re-indoctrination.
These first two articles have explained the economic/political setting in the Philippines in 1986–87, as well as showing how the military (and later us) believed that a communist Antichrist takeover was imminent and that drastic action had to be taken to stop it before it was too late. I also showed how we got deeper into our military ministry than we had originally planned to. In the third and final article, “The Military Coups,” I’ll describe how right-wing elements in the military tried to overthrow the government of Corazon Aquino, and to what extent Mo and WS were involved.
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