March 29 will mark the 38th anniversary of the New People’s Army. To crush the NPA, the government has declared war on political parties it claims are allies of the NPA. The latest target has been a member of congress: Satur Ocampo, who is now in police custody.
Does crushing the NPA require the elimination of certain legal political parties?
When Marxists participate in the political arena, they undertake building alliances or by using other groups and parties to create an atmosphere conducive to their movement’s goals. They call this building a united front.
Opponents call such efforts subversion. From 1957 to the Ramos administration, the Communist party, Communism itself, indeed, anything that might be considered, even confused, with Communism, was declared illegal, and anyone the government disliked could be branded a subversive.
From 1986 to 2005, or almost 20 years, the policies of our presidents from Aquino to Estrada, was to convince rebels to come down from the hills.
Mrs. Aquino set political prisoners free. President Ramos issued an amnesty proclamation in 1994, had the Anti-Subversion Law repealed by Congress, and established the National Amnesty Commission to process applications for amnesty. Marxists were told they could work within the political system, to campaign for votes. Reconciliation meant expanding the democratic space to allow Marxists to pursue their radical reforms by means of the democratic process.
President Estrada extended the NAC’s existence twice, in 1998 and 2000. From Ramos to Arroyo, our government encouraged united front politics, on the principle that integration is preferable to discrimination.
But on March 22, 2005, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed Executive Order 415, abolishing the National Amnesty Commission. This was the prelude to abandoning two decades of peace-building.
In June last year, President Arroyo gave the army a two-year deadline to eradicate the New People’s Army (NPA). In itself, that wasn’t so different from anything her predecessors had said. What is different is that the very same parties president Ramos had encouraged to be set up, and join in mainstream politics, have been declared the targets of the government.
Why is the government so upset at political parties it claims are merely fronts for the CPP-NPA?
Recently, the Social Weather Stations, conducted for the Ateneo School of Government, with support from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation a survey on political parties and guess which three parties did best? Lakas-CMD, then the Liberal Party and - surprise, surprise - Bayan Muna.
Yet of the three, Lakas is as traditional as a party gets, the Liberals are divided, and the government claims Bayan Muna is the enemy. Rep. Satur Ocampo, who was arrested over the weekend, is a Bayan Muna representative and it’s a sign of how badly the mainstream parties are doing, that Ocampo has more credibility in a survey than say, Kampi, the president’s pet party.
Here’s another reason. According to the First Quarter 2007 SWS Survey, the top three choices for the party list are all parties the government says are Communist fronts. Seventeen percent of respondents said they will vote for Bayan Muna; 9.4 percent for Anakpawis; and 8.1 percent for Gabriela.
SWS says that given the survey result’s scenario: “Bayan Muna would keep its current 3 seats…Gabriela would gain 2 from its current 1 seat, while…Anakpawis [is] poised to gain 1 more seat to [its] current 2.”
Anakpawis is represented by Rep. Crispin Beltran, who has been under hospital arrest for over a year, accused of conspiring against the Marcos government. The Marcos government is gone, eliminated by millions of decent Filipinos having rebelled against it in 1986.
President Aquino granted Beltran an amnesty; but apparently an amnesty isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. Under similar logic, despite President Roxas’ amnesty in 1948, successive presidents could’ve imprisoned Laurel, Recto and other covered by the amnesty for charges of collaboration in the 1950s.
Finally, there’s the question of the electorate. In the 2004 elections, party list Bayan Muna came in first with 1,203,305 votes; Anakpawis came in fifth, with 538,396 votes; Gabriela Women’s Party came in seventh with 464,586 votes. That’s millions of Filipinos entitled to representation - and who should deny them that? Any other congressman with as many votes wouldn’t tolerate being deprived of his seat.
So I ask you, isn’t there a major betrayal going on here? From 1994 our government had said, join the system. And when, time and again, the Left has done respectably, instead of respecting their mandate, now our government reacts by denying those that elected those parties, representation?
If you can’t beat ’em, cheat ’em. If you can’t cheat ’em, kill ’em. If you can’t kill ’em, harass and arrest them. In a nutshell, that seems government policy today. It’s brutal, and stupid.
Creating martyrs is not the way to go.
Cory Aquino released Jose Ma. Sison from jail, and it provoked coup attempts against her by the military. But the end result of that policy was to reduce Sison to singing karaoke in the Netherlands and dancing with Ara Mina.
A rebellion needs martyrs. Sison is not a martyr. Those martyrs are being created here, at home, by a military unable to see how counterproductive it is when people dedicated to legal political work are killed. How subversive it is, to law and order when a turning a blind eye to liquidation squads becomes military policy.
An idea, which Communism is, can only be fought if other ideas remain relevant and prove they can accomplish social justice better than Communism ever can.
You do not fight Communism with fire. You fight it, as it has been effectively fought before, by dazzling a previously oppressed and hopeless citizenry with the blinding light of a democracy that works.
You do it by means of a corruption-free military, where honest generals command well-fed troops respectful of the civilian population; where government delivers justice, and doesn’t indulge in political persecution; where the state delivers basic services, and holds fraud-free, credible elections.