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Political persecution

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By Carol Pagaduan-Araullo
Chairperson Bagong Alyansang Makabayan

It would be hilarious if it were not deadly serious. A hooded witness who gives his name as Jaime B. Fuentes claims to be an ex-communist cadre and accuses several individuals known to be progressive, or Leftist, in the traditional political nomenclature, of conspiring to commit rebellion. The Department of Justice swallows his suspicious testimony hook, line and sinker.

The incredible witness unwittingly undermines his own testimony by wearing an improvised device to hide his identity. He is widely perceived as a latter-day “Makapili” (a paid spy of the Japanese Occupation whose hallmark was to point an accusing finger against fellow Filipinos while wearing a bayong over his head).

The point is starkly made: under the Arroyo administration, the accused are prevented from confronting their accuser even though this is guaranteed under due process and this injustice is abetted by no less than government prosecutors.

Fuentes thus gets away with his mission of red-baiting and besmirching the reputations of the six progressive party-list representatives and many other leaders of various legitimate and aboveground organizations who have all along espoused unabashedly Leftist politics.

This latest travesty on the rights of illegally detained Representative Crispin Beltran, much respected trade unionist, democrat and nationalist who survived Marcos’ martial law, and the “Batasan 5” party-list congresspersons as well as fellow activist leaders is happening in the midst of unabated extrajudicial killings among their ranks. The latest to fall is Malolos Bayan leader, Ka Santi Teodoro, gunned down once more by what are feared to be this regime’s death squads.

The squid and red scare tactics are standard in the government’s bag of counter-insurgency tricks but they assume a new purpose: to justify intensified and unrelenting attacks on the Left as well as rally support behind the hugely unpopular President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the tyrannical use of martial law powers to suppress the people; more specifically, the broad array of anti-GMA political forces calling on her to step down.

Part and parcel of the latest red scare tactics is the hype about the so-called alliance between the Communist Party of the Philippines and rebellious sections of the AFP and PNP that has resulted in an elaborate plan to launch a coup d’etat, overthrow the Arroyo regime and set up a military or civilian-military junta in its place.

This Malacañang tall tale deserves a separate discussion all together but at this point an immediate retort is in order: how can the national democratic movement in this country countenance a military or civilian-military junta when its progressive and militant leaders, members and allies would be the first targets for attack by such an undemocratic form of government? This is not speculation; it is historical fact, not just in the Philippine experience but the world over.

Another patent falsehood and one that only a rabidly anti-communist and fascist mind set can concoct and purvey is that the legal and openly functioning Left parties and organizations are actually engaged in rebellion by virtue of their having the same or similar political analysis and program as the CPP/NPA or what is generically termed the “underground” Left.

There is the deliberate refusal to acknowledge that the legal or “aboveground” Left does not engage in nor espouse armed revolution and can therefore not be liable for either rebellion or sedition under the law.

Corollary to this is the obfuscation of the fact that with the repeal of RA 1700 or the Anti-Subversion Law in 1992, former or even current members of the CPP are not engaged in any criminal act as long as they do not carry arms themselves or call on others to do the same to overthrow the duly-constituted government (which many pundits say does not apply to the Arroyo administration).

Of course the follow-up line is that the legal Left maintains links with the armed revolutionary movement and its organizations should also therefore be proscribed, its leaders and members arrested and prosecuted.

Specific to the progressive party lists like Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women’s Party and Anakpawis, the innuendo by rabid anti-communist groups like Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales’ Philippine Democratic Socialist Party, is that the former channel their countryside development funds to the NPA and NPA-controlled areas.

Curiously this is echoed by a Jesuit priest, Fr. Romeo Intengan, who the Left has long-ago described as a crypto-fascist, and whose “research” into Bayan Muna et al “illegal” activities is lauded no end by Malacañang.

Nevertheless, they have failed, time and again, to prove this preposterous charge and merely resort to black propaganda such as government-produced “documentaries” to keep repeating the lie until, like Gobles, they hope it sticks.

May we just point out that the direct persecutors of the legal Left in this country are the police and military forces who stand accused of extrajudicial killings, massacres, torture and other grievous human rights abuses as well as their cover-up; who are useless when it comes to running after the likes of COMELEC Commissioner Garcillano and Agriculture Department Undersecretary “Jocjoc” Bolante, both widely believed to be involved in egregious crimes but are super efficient and gung-ho when it comes to running after activists; and who are cited by the government’s own Commission on Human Rights as the most notorious human rights violators, are subject of Congressional investigations for their involvement in rampant jueteng and smuggling not to mention wholesale electoral fraud.

Dr. Carol P. Araullo, is the Vice-Chairperson for External Affairs of the ILPS