August 31, 2007

Pouring fuel into the fire

Commenting on the arrest of Prof. Jose Ma. Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, de facto President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo immediately congratulated National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales for a job well done and called the arrest “a giant step toward peace, a victory for justice and the rule of law.”

At first, Mr. Gonzales denied the government’s role and attributed the arrest to complaints filed by the widows of two former communist leaders that the New People’s Army (NPA) had admitted to executing for their alleged criminal and counter-revolutionary activities, and independent action on these complaints by the Dutch government. Afterwards, Mr. Gonzales made no effort to deny or dissemble the Philippine government’s instigation of and full cooperation with a foreign government in effecting the same.

Mr. Luis Jalandoni, NDFP chief negotiator, on the contrary said that it would spell doom for the peace talks since Mr. Sison has played a vital role as a highly respected voice in the revolutionary movement and often the one who would formulate the language of joint statements and agreements acceptable to both parties, thus paving the way for progress in the talks, e.g. the inking the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

More importantly, Mr. Jalandoni underscored the NDFP cannot negotiate in a situation where their consultants, staffers and members of their peace panel, are subjected to harassment, trumped up criminal charges and patently illegal attacks such as enforced disappearance, extrajudicial killing, arbitrary arrest and unjust detention.

Earlier, Mr. Jalandoni had been referring to the situation of NDFP consultants and personnel in the Philippines. The arrest of Sison, the interrogation of Mr. Jalandoni himself, panel member Ms. Coni Ledesma and Ms. Ruth de Leon, head of the NDFP peace panel secretariat, the simultaneous raids of the Sison residence, the NDFP office and several residences of other NDFP personalities and staffers in the Netherlands as well as the wholesale confiscation of computers, cell phones, and documents including personal diaries, has made a resumption of the talks close to, if not outright, impossible.

Simply put, the “peace” Mrs. Arroyo refers to would be the outcome of the projected defeat of the communist-led revolutionary movement through yet another “all-out war” effort with a supposedly much better trained and equipped military (courtesy of hiked US military aid and bigger budgetary allocations); resort to a dirty war that includes rampant violations of human rights as a means to terrorize the rebel movement’s mass base in the countryside and legal, unarmed activists in the urban areas; and forcing the NDFP panel to capitulate in the peace negotiations by agreeing to a purported “final peace agreement” that oversees laying down of arms by the NPA in exchange for illusory socio-economic and political reforms and some form of amnesty.

It is the “peace” of the graveyard and of ignominious surrender.

Ms. Juliet de Lima, wife of Mr. Sison, said in a television interview that the attack on her husband and the NDFP in the Netherlands was an internationally-orchestrated psychological warfare operation that was intended to demoralize the revolutionary forces in the Philippines. Mr. Sison is currently incommunicado save for brief visits by just one of his lawyers, a situation unwarranted by the charge of “incitement to murder” but one that is now routinely reserved for those demonized by the US and EU countries as “terrorists”.

With the effective, though hopefully only temporary, neutralization of one of the Left’s most astute, knowledgeable, far-sighted and resilient of leaders, the reactionary and crisis-ridden government of Mrs. Arroyo thinks it has demolished the linchpin of the longest-running armed, revolutionary movement in East Asia.

The Arroyo regime is blinded by its denial of that great lesson of history -- that revolutions bred by social injustice and oppression cannot be defeated, much less be eradicated, by the state’s iron hand and that brutal suppression of revolutionary leaders only constitute temporary setbacks. Many more invariably stand up to take their place in the frontlines of struggle.

The Netherlands government thinks that by colluding with the Philippine and US government to politically persecute Mr. Sison and the NDFP and to scuttle the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, it has done away with a big thorn in its throat, a political embarrassment as well as a pesky obstacle to Dutch multinational corporations’ unbridled profit making in the country.

In the process it has violated Mr. Sison’s and others’ rights to due process, it has circumvented its own laws and the European Union’s conventions on human rights, particularly the rights of political refugees, and it has clearly interfered in matters internal to the Philippines. In fact, the Dutch government has interfered in the matter of the sovereign right of the Filipino people, the right to determine its political affairs including the political settlement of internal armed conflicts. Its shameful role in this outrageous episode shall, in due time, be thoroughly exposed and it shall consequently be held accountable.

US Ambassador Kristie Kenney, while prefacing her reaction with the caveat that ”this is obviously a Philippine issue” could not help but applaud Mr. Sison’s arrest as a victory in the so-called fight against “terrorism” . Ms. Kenney’s comment betrays the underplayed but unflagging motivation of the US to dispose of Mr. Sison and thereby counter his unrelenting, consistently sharp analysis and compelling calls to action against US imperialism and all its instrumentalities and lackeys. In fact, the US had been the first to list Mr. Sison as a “foreign terrorist” and use its formidable political and diplomatic clout to inveigh other countries to do the same.

All three governments unwittingly, if stupidly, are pouring fuel into the fire of revolution in the Philippines, in a futile attempt to put it out by fascist means, including the condemnable act of concertedly attacking Mr. Sison, an icon of the broad anti-imperialist and democratic movement at home and abroad. #


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