One could just imagine the hatred of Lorraine Badoy against the communists and the people who are suspected to support the rebel movement.

She would not hesitate to cross the line and threaten anybody, including a judge, who dismissed a court petition to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, New People’s Army (NPA), as terrorist organizations.

The former spokeswoman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) has “red-tagged” almost everyone from celebrities, politicians, lawyers, community organizers, to journalists, linking them to the rebel movement without any evidence.

Her actions are far worse than what the Americans had experienced in the 1950s when US senator Joseph McCarthy made unfounded accusations of treason and subversion related to socialism and communism against many people, particularly those in the entertainment industry.

In the Philippines, it is quite understandable for members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to hate the communists. They have been fighting the rebels, who wanted to overthrow the government, for more than half a century. Many of their comrade-in-arms were killed in the battlefield or were assassinated in urban centers.

Even before Congress passed an anti-terrorism law in 2020, the military has been labeling NPA guerrillas as “communist terrorists” in official reports as early as in the elder Marcos’s regime. Lately, the military added the word “group” to identify the NPA rebels as a “communist terrorist group” or CTG.

But it was a puzzle why civilians like Badoy have become rabid anti-communists. Did she suffer a harrowing experience under the communists? Was she a victim of a rebel atrocity or was anyone in her family a victim of the NPA’s unjust actions?

The former president, Rodrigo Duterte, was a self-confessed socialist who trumpeted himself in 2016 as the first socialist leader of the country. He was supported by the communists in the election. He even appointed several left-leaning personalities to his cabinet.

A year into office, he abandoned his left-leaning friends, purged them from his government and vowed to crush the communists with the help of the military. Overnight, Duterte turned from Socialist to Fascist to curry the military’s support.

He scrapped peace talks with the Communist Party’s political arm, the National Democratic Front, to find a political settlement to the decades-old insurgency, one of the longest-running in Asia.

Maoist-led guerrillas have been waging a protracted unconventional warfare since 1969, targeting government installations and state agents but also killing civilians, who were considered collateral damage, in the process.

On some occasions, the NPA rebels apologized for the deaths of civilians, like Reuters photojournalist Willie Vicoy when he died in a rebel ambush in northern Luzon in the 1980s. More recently, the rebels also apologized for the death of a collegiate football player in a roadside bomb attack in Masbate.

But soldiers were also equally guilty in killing civilians, like in Lupao, Nueva Ecija when an army lieutenant was killed in a village. The troops retaliated by shooting at civilians.

The vicious killings have to end. There is no point in soldiers and rebels killing each other. More than 40,000 lives have been lost in a conflict that has also affected economic growth and development in resource-rich but poor rural communities.

In advanced democracies, communism as an ideology is not outlawed because members participate in a peaceful political process. In the Philippines, people who believed in communist and socialist ideologies were allowed to take part in local elections, getting themselves into local positions and in Congress.

What is not allowed is the use of force or threats to use force, which the NPA employs in remote communities. Leftist politicians must dissociate themselves from the violent NPA guerrillas.

But the government has a big role to play in ending NPA violence in the countryside. It has to address the root causes of the insurgency—injustice, inequality, poverty, ignorance, neglect, and corruption.

Poor people who were victims of injustices and inequalities took up arms not because they believed in communism. They were seeking justice because the wheels of justice grind so slow in the country.

If there are no conditions that will force them to take up arms, there will be no violent rebellions.

Muslim communities in the south were attracted to violent Islamist groups, like the Abu Sayyaf, the Maute, and Islamic State militants, because the people in these areas have the same experiences in poor communities in other parts of the country that led to the growth of the NPAs under the dictatorial regime in the 1970s.

When Ferdinand Marcos imposed martial law in September 1972, there were less than 1,000 armed NPA guerrillas. Marcos used the communist threat to prolong his stay in power, pointing to the successes of the communists in taking over governments in Southeast Asia.

Two years after Martial Law, the NPAs grew into a 4,000-strong force and by the time Marcos was removed in 1986 in a near-bloodless popular uprising, the rebels had more than 26,000 members in about 25 percent of villages nationwide.

Marcos was the top recruiter of the NPAs and several post-EDSA administrations failed to address the roots of insurgency although the numbers of rebels have dwindled to some 2,000 fighters.

But the violence will continue unless conditions on the ground change and the military mindset to wipe out the armed insurgents prevail.

On paper, the concept of the creation of NTF-ELCAC was the perfect solution to the insurgency. It has a whole-of-government approach to address the social problems that caused rebellion.

But there were misguided people, especially under Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, who believed the insurgency problem would be solved by killing all the Communists.

Past leaders who had tried exterminating “enemies of the state” failed because using violence as a means could result in more violence from the other group.

Antonio Parlade and Badoy, who espoused the use violence against the communists, must not be allowed to prevail. The civilian agencies must take action.

Parlade and Badoy should be stopped from crossing the line. Their actions threaten democracy in the country and could lead to more violence in the community.