March 08, 2007

Human Security Act: License to kill

How are we to believe de facto president Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when she proclaims that the new anti-terrorism bill, euphemistically named the Human Security Act, will be used against supposed bombers and not protesters? On the contrary, such fascist legislation will certainly give further license to the Arroyo regime-sanctioned death squads responsible for the political killings that have triggered concern among international quarters including the European Union and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings.

The new law will certainly embolden the military and police forces -- from the overbearing generals to the trigger-happy soldiers and truncheon-brandishing cops -- to ride roughshod on ordinary folks’ civil, political and basic human rights. It will whet the appetites of the right-wingers concentrated in the Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security (COCIS) headed by Mrs. Arroyo to quicken the tempo of her regime’s much publicized “all-out war against the Left.”

In a nutshell, this consists of: (1) funneling more and more government resources to the AFP and PNP and the Mrs. Arroyo’s unaudited “intelligence” funds; (2) sanctifying the “Palparan model” of civil-military operations which is essentially state terrorism at its terrifying worst; (3) providing official cover-up at the highest level for the horrendous practice of extra-judicial killings, abductions, massacres and torture not to mention wholesale displacement, arbitrary arrests, physical abuse and harassment of poor people in rural and urban communities; (4) practically scuttling peace negotiations as a means of addressing the long-running armed conflict between the government and the communist movement and its underlying socio-economic roots; and, not the least, (5) marching to the discredited baton of US President Bush’s administration in using the “terrorist” label to demonize and repress those who resist US-led wars of aggression, fight against state assaults on civil and political liberties and, in general, oppose the regime’s dangerously insane policies.

The all-out campaign to eliminate the progressive party lists Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela from the political arena is a special project of the COCIS orchestrated by the National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales. An intense vilification campaign in the form of relentless red-baiting and an anti-communist witch hunt reminiscent of the 50s is being conducted by the loathsome troika of NSA Secretary Gonzales, AFP Chief Hermogenes Esperon and Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez with the implicit blessings of Mrs. Arroyo. For example, these not-so-honorable gentlemen try to get away with wild accusations that the three party lists are channeling their countryside development funds to the NPA without being able to produce an iota of evidence as proof.

While poisonous words can be parried by truthful ones, the unabashed militarization of rural and urban areas nationwide that the regime has pinpointed to be the bailiwicks of these uncompromisingly oppositionist partylists are certainly causing harm to life and limb. Recently, the obtrusive presence of military men in full combat gear prowling the slums of Metro Manila, ferreting out and threatening Bayan Muna et al supporters as well as telling residents not to vote for these party lists has raised alarm bells among civil libertarians and the general public.

The filing of trumped-up charges of rebellion and common crimes such as multiple murders against standard bearers Satur Ocampo, Liza Maza, Teddy Casino and Rafael Mariano and the concomitant disqualification petitions against the party lists themselves are meant to knock them out if not seriously incapacitate the front-running candidates from campaigning, and eventually, assuming office.

It goes without saying that the most brutal but officially denied component of this campaign is the unabated killings, abductions, surveillance and harassment of the leaders, organizers and even ordinary members and supporters of these party lists.

And yet what are these aforesaid party lists truly guilty of? They are being pilloried for standing on a political platform that calls for genuine land reform and national industrialization, for upholding and promoting fundamental human and democratic rights and institutionalizing people’s empowerment through vibrant grass-roots organizing, militant mass struggles against oppression and exploitation and using the ballot to elect genuine servant-leaders of the people. Of course, they sealed their doom by taking a leading role in pushing for the impeachment of Mrs. Arroyo and joining the call for her ouster through another massive demonstration of unarmed “people power”.

Are not the political objectives, aspirations and actuations of the progressive party lists strikingly similar to that espoused by the armed revolutionary movement? Of course they are! And why not, they are unashamedly self-proclaimed to be on the Left of the political spectrum.

Does this not then constitute prima facie evidence that they are mere “communist front organizations” as the loathsome troika Gonzales-Esperon-Gonzalez would have us believe? Not so. These organizations are politically legitimate and legally recognized. They operate openly, do not engage in armed struggle and are democratically organized with an expanding mass constituency that the Arroyo regime is trying hard to terrorize with the military’s guns and vicious psychological warfare. As a matter of fact, the countryside funds of Bayan Muna representatives are subject to the same accounting and audit requirements of other members of Congress and, even more so, the prying eyes of Messers. Gonzales et Gonzalez. Thus the latter’s much ballyhooed accusations about these funds being diverted to the NPA are just a lot of hogwash.

It must be pointed out that part of the so-called “peace offensive” cum counter-insurgency measure of the Aquino and Ramos governments was to entice and co-opt the revolutionaries under the umbrella of the National Democratic Front (NDF) to join electoral politics. Now that the legal Left has successfully entered Congress while not relinquishing the autonomous Parliament of the Streets and without denouncing the right of the people to take up arms against an oppressive government, Arroyo’s hit men cry foul, raise the communist bogey and resort to the most underhanded of tactics to halt the legal Left’s fledgling inroads into an arena still very much dominated by reactionary and discredited politicians like themselves.

While Mrs. Arroyo and her cabal of widely perceived liars, plunderers, blood-thirsty fascists and die-hard anti-communists insist that the deliberately mislabeled Human Security Act is geared to go against “terrorists” like the Abu Sayyaf/Jemah Islamiyah, we all know better.

The people’s democratic movement is in for fearsome and trying times not unlike that of the Marcos martial law period. But it will surely persevere, gain further strength and win wider support from the Filipino people and the peoples of the world as it struggles to overcome another fascist dictatorship in the making.#

*Published in Business World
9-10 March 2007


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