CATHY ALCANTARA : PEOPLE’S MARTYR IN THE STRUGGLE FOR A NUCLEAR-FREE, SOVEREIGN AND DEMOCRATIC PHILIPPINES
On the morning of Dec. 5, 2005 Cathy Alcantara, 43, was mercilessly gunned down and killed with four bullet wounds from a .45 caliber pistol right in front conference in Abucay, Bataan. Those who killed her think that by snuffing out the life of a dedicated people’s advocate and community organizer like Cathy, they can stop the momentum of the people’s movement and increasing social consciousness of the thousands of farmers and workers whose lives Cathy had touched. In the many countless peasants’ and workers’ struggles especially at the Bataan Export Processing Zone in Mariveles, Bataan, and in the Central Luzon region as a whole, Cathy was there deep into organizing mobilizations, logistics and other staff work needed by the peoples’ movements.
Just a week before she was fatally killed, Cathy Alcantara had helped organize a rally against the Visiting Forces Agreement(VFA) outside a court hearing in Olongapo City where the preliminary investigation of the rape of a Filipina woman by six U.S. Marines was being held. Cathy has been a veteran organizer of farmers and workers in Bataan since the early 1980s. Many of us knew her deep commitment in the successful campaign and struggle against the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant during the Marcos dictatorship, especially in the Secretariat of the province-wide Nuclear Free Bataan Movement. Later, she was also part of the backbone of the Central Luzon Alliance for a Sovereign Philippines (CLASP) in the struggle against the U.S. military bases in the Philippines. At the time of her murder she was the regional coordinator and secretary-general of the Bataan provincial chapter of the Kilusan Para sa Pambansang Democrasya or Movement for National Democracy.
Cathy’s ruthless murder at the hands of a death squad unofficially directed by Philippine military and police forces, constitutes what is now a clear pattern of nationwide state repression in response to the resurgence of people’s movements and mass actions. Since 2001 when Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took over as President, more than 100 activists and community organizers, union leaders women and youth activists, including provincial journalists have been assassinated by death squads directed by military and operatives. Seventy two of those killed by these death squads nationwide are regional, provincial and local coordinators of Bayan Muna including some local officials. In fact, even human rights lawyers, priests and pastors have not been spared by these assassinations which have become unabated as they are unpunished with impunity.
The tactics of low-intensity conflict strategy of “all out war” against grassroots people’s movements are once again being applied and intensified at the direction of U.S. special operations forces which are currently directing the counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency campaign of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The objective is to silence, paralyze, decapitate and cow all legitimate dissent by people’s movements and non-government organizations which U.S. and Philippine counter-terrorism experts and counter-insurgents consider as part of the “political infrastructure” of armed guerrilla organizations. CIA operatives and the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency operatives are already providing both advisory and technical support to the so-called anti-terrorism campaign of the Philippine government against legitimate dissent. The United States is too much involved in the security and anti-terrorism strategy of the Philippines through the Philippine-U.S. Joint Defense Planning and Implementation Group not to know what is happening on the ground. U.S. training and logistical support to dirty counter-terror tactics have been supplemented with advisory and direct guidance of special Philippine army units. These special U.S. counter-terror units and advisory teams have already been put in place and billeted in several Philippine military camps in Luzon, Visayas and in Mindanao. It smacks of the same pattern of repression used by U.S. counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism experts in South Vietnam four decades ago when local activists, mass movement leaders and local officials in villages considered “sympathetic” to South Vietnam National Liberation Front guerrillas were assassinated by hit men and special units directed by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s “Phoenix Program”. These same dirty tricks tactics were used widely in Latin America by the CIA-directed armed forces and police against legitimate people’s movements.
We urge all people’s movements in the Philippines to close ranks and strengthen their solidarity and unity against these latest attacks against them. These latest attacks directed against the peoples’ movements and struggle for sovereignty and democracy will not cow nor weaken our ranks. These attacks will only serve to heighten the people’s fighting spirit, as we face the challenge of defending and advancing our cherished rights and freedoms.
To Cathy and other people’s martyrs : we dedicate our resolve not only to continue the struggle but also to advance it to a higher level of people’s consciousness and solidarity till the ultimate victory of the struggle for a nuclear-free, sovereign and democratic Philippines.
* Article by Roland G Simbulan – For a full professional background of Professor Roland G. Simbulan (Click Here)