(Second of a Series)

The President just signed the Anti-Terror bill into law. After due publication, it becomes fully effective.

Before we render any objections to law as moot and academic, let us take a final look at four of them from prominent public figures.

Sara Elago of the Kabataan partylist said that “It has no safeguard for the protection of human rights and redress of grievances. This can be weaponized to silence critics and suppress dissent.”

Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna, “mas palalalain pa nito ang mga paglabag pantao sa ating bansa at gagawin nitong parang isang police state ang Pilipinas.”

Arlene Brosas of Gabriela, “The law will embed the climate of fear into our laws. This is the kind of fear and terror manufactured by the state to repress the critical voices of the people.”

France Castro of Act Teachers, “The measure toughens penalties on terrorism convicts but soften those on erring law enforcement agencies.”

I am happy that already these leaders of the so-called legal fronts of the Communist terrorist groups are already cowing in their imagined fear in anticipation of the law taking effect.

Enough laws to safeguard human rights

What is not being said is that we have enough laws to safeguard human rights and in case of violations, enough laws to guarantee due process to redress of grievances.

Actually, the lack of backbone of our government for the past 30 years of the yellow regime from Aquino the mother to Aquino the son, had encouraged these so-called “progressive” fronts to circumvent our legal system for the purposes of recruiting fresh reinforcements to the New People’s Army, raising public as well as private funds to support the NPA’s platform of violently overthrowing the Philippine government and drumming up public opinion in their favor.

The Commission on Human Rights has even aligned with these fronts selectively positioning its agenda with bias against government and law enforcers while treating communist and other terror groups and their fronts with kid gloves.

The tactics that these legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and National Democratic Front have employed from 1986 to 2016 has precisely been to take advantage of the democratic space to subvert, maim and kill government law enforcers and innocent civilians in the war zone while abusing their own rights and freedoms to bully and discredit those who do not share their ideologies.

In some areas, elective officials are even blackmailed by these social discards or “taong labas” as they are known in the vernacular.

Plight of the lumads

Not having permanent territories as the military kept pursuing them, they decided to infiltrate the villages of indigenous peoples or “lumads”, promise their leaders what basic services government could not deliver, and worm into full control of the IP territories.

Once in control they subvert their native cultures, supplant their leadership and take over their educational system and eventually their way of life.

For instance, Datu Awing Apuga of the Ata-Manobo tribe in Talaingod narrated “Ang community namin, ginagawa na nila na guerrilla base. Doon na [sila] nagtira, doon na sila nagkakampo at ‘yung mga kabataan naming hindi na makatanggi kung ano ang ginagawa, kung ano ang itinuturo nila sa amin.”  

The control of lumad schools became the centerpiece of NPA domination.

In the Salugpongan school, Datu Awing recalled there were more than 64 children, aged six to 17, who were trained to become “child warriors.”

“I was eager to learn how to read and write clearly. But we were taught other things, such as leftist ideologies, and wielding, assembling, and disassembling of firearms. 

At the age of 15, he was tapped by the NPA commander to reach out to the youth of other sitios, who were initiated to launch an ambush on government troops

“Of course, some of us got cold feet and refused to fire their guns,” Awing said.

When the lumads finally realize what has happened and they offer resistance, they are summarily executed often in front of their own clan.

The shit hit the fan when a paramilitary group called Alamara padlocked the Dulyan campus of Salugpongan Ta’Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center Inc.

Meggie Nolasco, executive director of Salugpongan community schools said “About 15 to 20 members of the Alamara were seen loitering around the school’s vicinity, harassing the students, teachers and locals, prompting the volunteer teachers to seek a safe sanctuary.”

According to Nolasco, this prompted a mission comprising of a convoy of five vans to be rushed to rescue the children and the teachers.

Nolasco said their convoy eventually held at Barangay Sto. Niño, and interrogated by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, and Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office.

Her narration of the seeming impromptu event, however, did not match the fact that high-profile personalities were among the alleged rescuers. Members of the rescue team included former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro, and Pia Malayao of Katribu.

Obviously, Ocampo and Castro came all the way from Manila.

The Philippine National Police charged Ocampo and his group with kidnapping and human trafficking for transporting minors without documents of parental consent.

They claimed they were delivering school supplies to indigenous communities, but police officials said the arrest “stemmed from complaints of parents and tribal leaders” in the province.

Tagum City Executive Judge Arlene Palabrica eventually ordered Ocampo’s group released after they each posted a bail of around P80,000.

Suffice it to say, a substantial portion of the 12,329 former members of the CPP-NPA-NDF who have surrendered to the government and taken advantage of the inter-agency Balik-Loob program, from July 2016 to March 2020 are lumads.

Sison identified terrorist fronts

Meanwhile Bayan Muna partylist representative Carlos Zarate filed a complaint before the Ombudsman saying: “”By labeling me and the rest of the Makabayan Party-Lists as ‘communist fronts’ and vilifying us as ‘rebels’ and ‘terrorists,’ Respondent Parlade endangers and threatens the lives and safety of our officials, members, campaign personnel, and the sectors we represent.”

Southern Luzon Commander, Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. responded to the complaint the latter filed against him for alleged “red-tagging”:

“It is not us who identified their group as Reds. It was Jose Maria Sison, and to this day, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is consistent in tagging them as their Red allies.

“Is Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate denying this fact? If not, what’s wrong with the government calling a spade a spade?”

The Solcom chief further clarified, “To inform the people and expose to them the real nature of terrorist organizations representing themselves as advocacy groups is the job of the government.

“We will be remiss with our job if we continue to allow the people to be fooled by these criminals, by not informing them of the terrorist nature of this ‘Kamatayan bloc.’ They continue to recruit and kill our children, traffick our Indigenous Peoples (IPs) to the underground, and they want us to be silent on these?

Parlade said he never said ‘don’t vote for them.’

“What we said is for people to choose properly their candidates and their party-list groups. The choice is theirs and it’s called ‘informed decision,’ as against random choice because of lack of information,” he added.

 He then submits a video of Jose Maria Sison, whose transcript I am quoting verbatim.

“There are processes by which the Philippine revolution is to be advanced. This includes the building of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the building of the New People’s Army and the building of the New Democratic Front.

“The Communist Party was established December 26, 1968 as the Marxist-Leninist vanguard party of the working class. This party is supposed to be the standard-bearer of the working class which is the class that is most progressive, productive and political force in the Philippines.

“It is true that the minority class especially the only party that represents it cannot win in the Philippine revolution all by itself.

“At any rate, while there are forces of the armed revolution. There are the legal democratic forces in the Philippines.

“The biggest of these is Bagong Alyansang Makabayan or BAYAN, in short. It has a membership of more than two million members and more than one thousand member organizations.

“Its biggest component organization are Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) which is the labor center.

The Pambansang Kilusang Magbubukid which is the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas or KMP,

“GABRIELA which is the women’s alliance,

“League of Filipino Students (LFS),

“Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT),

“KADENA, and so on.

“As I have earlier pointed out, Partido ng Bayan founded August 30 and 31, 1986 was an outgrowth of BAYAN, the big coalition.”

The personal testimony of yet youthful Jose Maria Sison, caught on videotape, was one material in the information wars conducted by the communist terrorist groups to recruit new cadres.

Today, it is a classic archive of the indisputable truth that set us free, a vital and handy lesson in red-tagging. (SPH)

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