Makabayan’s response to the current red-baiting and witch-hunting of progressive candidates, leaders and party lists
Submitted by mkbyn on Tue, 04/27/2010 – 2:34pm
There is a marked heightening of red-baiting and witch-hunting in the campaign for the May 2010 elections. The issues raised are pseudo-issues, part of the concerted and long-standing effort of the US-Arroyo regime to demonize progressive candidates, leaders and party-lists. It is led primarily by the military and the rabid anti-communist party-lists and candidates like known human rights violator Gen. Jovito Palparan.
What is relatively new is the high-profile involvement of a senatorial candidate of the Liberal Party (Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel) and the spokesperson of the LP presidential candidate in the smear campaign and their attempts to besmirch as well candidates allied to Makabayan.
Nonetheless, Makabayan and its allied party-lists must tackle these so-called issues and in the process amplify on their progressive electoral platform, stand on substantive issues and their unblemished track record.
1. Are Makabayan candidates Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza, and party-lists Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, Kabataan, ACT and Katribu, personalities and fronts of the CPP-NPA?
ANSWER: No, these candidates are not CPP-NPA personalities nor are their party-lists front organizations of the CPP-NPA. Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza are elected lawmakers who have served for 9 years in Congress. Many of these party lists have consistently topped past national elections, and have a combined voter base of some 3 million. Bayan Muna led by Satur and Gabriela Women’s Party, by Liza and the other progressive party lists are all engaged in legal and unarmed struggle, participate in elections and operate within the bounds of the law. They do not advocate the armed overthrow of the government nor do they take up arms against the government. On the other hand, the CPP and NPA are revolutionary organizations engaged in armed struggle against what they consider to be an oppressive government and an unjust social system. The party-list groups are distinct, separate and have no organizational links to the CPP-NPA.
For all the repeated allegations and trumped-up charges hurled against Satur, Liza and other progressive leaders and party-lists, none have prospered, whether at the Comelec or in any court of law. The Supreme Court itself, in a landmark decision, dismissed the charges of rebellion against the six progressive lawmakers collectively called the “Batasan 6”.
We object to the communist-labeling and other forms of red-baiting because such have been used to justify extra-judicial killings and other human rights violations against the members and supporters of the progressive leaders and groups. The red-baiting that some parties are maliciously engaged in is the same red-baiting used by the military to justify the arrests, torture, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of hundreds of unarmed activists, including workers, students, farmers, teachers, women, indigenous peoples, pastors and priests. Those singing the same tune as the AFP should be reminded that they are actually reinforcing the conditions for more human rights abuse. 2. But aren’t these groups leftists just like the CPP-NPA? ANSWER: Both groups belong to what is generally referred to as the “Left”, meaning groups seeking fundamental and radical changes in society and government. However, there is a distinction between unarmed activists and those engaged in revolutionary armed struggle. Being a part of the “Left” per se is not illegal. It has been the habit of the US-Arroyo regime to maliciously label critics as “Leftists” and “communists”, even “terrorists”, in order to vilify them and justify political and physical attacks against them. In the past, the US-Marcos dictatorship called Sen. Ninoy Aquino a “communist” in order to incarcerate him indefinitely and to try to isolate him politically. It failed.
The AFP is using this worn-out tactic of red-baiting to threaten progressive candidates and their allies and to scare the people from voting for progressive candidates. The AFP has used banners, posters, poison letters and death threats against the supporters and allies of progressive candidates and party lists. 3. If they are not connected to the NPA, why don’t they denounce the activities of the NPA, including revolutionary taxes and permits to campaign? ANSWER: The progressive candidates are not connected nor do they benefit in any way from the so-called revolutionary taxes and permits-to-campaign of the NPA. Moreover, these supposed “issues” are better understood in the context of the ongoing armed conflict in the country between the government and revolutionary organizations such as the CPP-NPA-NDF. The armed conflict has persisted for 40 years, with the government unable and unwilling to address the root causes of the armed conflict; historically and currently these are traceable to social injustice, widespread poverty and backwardness and intense oppression. More than merely condemning these activities, what is needed and more helpful is to call for the resumption of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines on the basis of previous signed agreements. This constitutes the first step in addressing the root causes of the armed conflict. Makabayan and its allied party lists have been consistent in working for a just and lasting peace. Makabayan believes that the only way to achieve this is through genuine land reform, a self-reliant economy and genuine representation and empowerment for the people. For the record, Satur headed the Committee on Peace and Reconciliation in the House of Representatives.
We note that the challenge to condemn so-called NPA atrocities is posed only to the progressive candidates under the Makabayan banner. The desired effect is to put these candidates on the spot, as if the absence of any strong condemnation on their part necessarily means they are NPA supporters, if not NPA combatants themselves.
It is also illogical and mendacious for Akbayan’s Risa Hontiveros to say that the “it is actually their (progressive groups’) refusal to condemn the atrocities and abuses of the CPP-NPA that indirectly helps human rights violators like Palparan to commit further abuses.” This statement clearly shifts the blame for human rights abuse to the victims themselves, apart from covering up the culpability of the real murderers and masterminds of the brutal Oplan Bantay Laya like General Palparan and Mrs. Gloria Arroyo. 4. What is the reason then for the “communist-labeling”? ANSWER: This is part of the government’s bloody anti-insurgency campaign that targets legal and unarmed activists. Since 2003, the Arroyo government has conducted a brutal campaign of repression against activists, progressive groups and their sympathizers who are critical of or oppose the US-Arroyo regime. Thousands of ordinary people are targeted for extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearance, arbitrary arrest, torture and detention not to mention the tens of thousands victimized by mass displacement. The regime erroneously thinks that by suppressing these unarmed, legal progressive groups, it would weaken the NPA. No less than the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings has pointed out that the heightened human rights abuse under the Arroyo regime is attributable to the counter-insurgency program of the regime.
5. Is it true that these party lists use their “pork barrel” funds to fund illegal activities of the NPA? Or for personal gain? ANSWER: No. Since 2005, after Satur, Liza and other representatives from the progressive party lists led the impeachment drives against Mrs. Arroyo, they have not received the said “pork barrel” funds usually allotted for lawmakers. These progressive candidates and groups do not have any history of diverting public funds for personal gain. In fact, the representatives of the progressive party lists continue to rank among the poorest in the House of Representatives. Congressman Crispin Beltran is a prime example: he lived and died a poor man. It has also been the position of the progressive party-list block in Congress to abolish the pork barrel system.
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip in May 6th 2010