Leloy McCarthy

Buzludzha Bulgaria1

Since US President Donald Trump’s visit in early November, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has escalated his government’s attacks against the Philippine Left, whose support he tried to court in his 2016 presidential bid and the early part of his presidency. Indications show that he is unleashing the dirty tactics of his notorious “war on drugs” – a class war against the poor which has killed more than 10,000 suspected drug addicts and pushers – against the Left, the most vocal critic of his drug war and other policies.

It is in this context that academic and historian Lisandro “Leloy” E. Claudio discussed what he called “Responsible Anti-Communism” in his recent column in Rappler.com. By “Communist,” he is rightly referring to the underground Communist Party of the Philippines which leads the National Democratic Front and the New People’s Army. He is wrong, however, when he echoes Duterte and revives McCarthyist anti-Communist tactics in insisting that the label “Communist” should also refer to legal organizations already being tagged by the government as the CPP’s “legal fronts.”

The past few days saw tarpaulin banners calling the CPP, NPA and NDF “terrorist” proliferating along major thoroughfares in Metro Manila. This is part of a concerted effort to try to condition the public for more attacks against the said groups, as well as legal activist organizations. On social media, especially among the educated middle classes, Claudio’s most recent column can be seen as functioning as the counterpart of those tarpaulin banners.

For Claudio, “responsible anti-Communism” means being firmly against Communists but standing up for their human rights against the State’s attacks. It means harshly criticizing Communists while taking a stand against their “extermination” and the violation of their rights by the government.

He states only one reason for upholding Communists’ human rights: that “responsible anti-Communists” should not “sink to the level of the bloody dictators that [Communists] idolize.” This reason is most flimsy because he accuses “Communist dictators” in other countries of killing millions of people. Surely, “responsible” Filipino anti-Communists cannot sink that low, even if they support the killing of many Filipino Communists.

More importantly, his essay expounds on anti-Communism – on the supposed “bloody history” of Communism, which has been used to try to justify the killing and suppression of Communists and suspected Communists – more lengthily than on defending Communists’ human rights. Out of his 18 paragraphs, only three discussed upholding the human rights of Communists.

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He may be on record opposing the killings and violation of Communists’ human rights, but he does more to incite the State to carry out such killings and human-rights violations. His essay is a thinly-veiled, or thinly-sugarcoated, death wish on Communists. He wants to hate on Communists, but he wants a clean conscience, too.

And Claudio is not unaware of the immediate context of his column: he cites Duterte’s cancellation of the peace talks with the NDFP and declaration that the CPP and NPA are “terrorist organizations.” He knows that the latter “augurs violence” and “can trigger repression reminiscent of the butcher Jovito Palparan.”

Despite his earnest posturing, he deserves no peace of mind. Make no mistake about it: distributed among top military officials, his essay will inspire them to kill and repress Communists, not respect the latter’s human rights.

Claudio tries to make his doctrine sound newfangled but it comes across as a poorly executed application of some US manual for Cold War propaganda. He says Communism is a “violent ideology”  with a “bloody history,” that Communist leaders are “mass murderers” and “bloody dictators,” and so on and so forth. It comes as no surprise that he at some point would equate Communism with Nazism itself.

Nazism, however, aimed to elevate a group of people, the Germans, through a “reckoning” with, or elimination of, Jews and other people deemed inferior. It is, in its essential principles, violent. Communism, however, aims at the elimination of private property – from which monopoly of the means of production and therefore class division and exploitation spring. It recognizes the need for the violence of the oppressed classes in response to the violent defense of private property by the ruling classes led by the bourgeoisie and monopoly bourgeoisie. And the latter has never ceased being violent.

That means that violence for Communists is not directed at the working classes and the people. As Bertolt Brecht says in his “In Praise of Communism” [1932]: “It’s sensible / anyone can understand it / It’s easy. / You’re not an exploiter, / so you can grasp it.” When it comes to class, interest trumps ideas; the ruling classes cannot be convinced to surrender their wealth and power, their monopoly of the means of production and State power.

This does not, however, mean that violence will be used wholesale against all members of the ruling classes, either. Only people who will use violence against the revolution will be themselves targeted for violence. It is worth remembering that Pu-Yi, China’s last emperor, was later on recruited as a member of the Chinese Communist Party after the latter came into power.

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The equation of Communism with Nazism and their presentation as enemies of democracy are common themes in anti-Communist thought. These are also present in “Duterismo, Maoismo, Nasyonalismo,” the essay contributed by Claudio and his mentor, the academic and historian Patricio N. Abinales, to the recently-published A Duterte Reader [2017]. They even applied this schema to the country’s experience with Martial Law, depicting the CPP and Ferdinand Marcos as both enemies of the country’s “liberal democracy.”

Claudio and Abinales present themselves as historians but are ahistorical, even anti-historical, when analyzing Communism, Nazism, and so-called democracy. To use an old-fashioned vocabulary, they fixate on the synchronic (the supposed general and common characteristics of Communism and Nazism) to the detriment of the diachronic (how Communism and Nazism emerged and interacted with each other in history). They embrace the simple-minded equation between two political philosophies which are seen as justifications for dictatorial rule.

Before Communism and Nazism, however, there was so-called democracy, which actually rests on the economic bedrock of capitalism and later on imperialism. It is the exploitation, poverty, hunger, wars, deaths and destruction caused by capitalism-imperialism which gave birth to Communism and hastened the latter’s increase in strength. It is also imperialism which bred fascism and Nazism, and it used the latter to try to destroy Communism.

In War and Revolution: Rethinking the Twentieth Century [2015] and other works, the intellectual Domenico Losurdo, who actually does historical research, provides many basis for this reading. He showed how the major imperialist countries of the 20th century supported the rise of fascism in Europe and Nazism in Germany, and how they hated Communism more than Nazism. How Germany’s concentration camps and other repressive measures drew inspiration not from Bolshevik Russia, but from European and American colonialism. How Nazism saw itself as an enemy of what it called “Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy” – and for good reason, because Communism was animating and supporting the struggles of what Nazis called “inferior nations.”

Anti-Communists like Claudio and Abinales love to cite the Hitler-Stalin pact, or the German-Soviet Non-aggression Pact of 1939 as proof of the supposed blood ties between Communism and Nazism. The truth is that the Soviet government led by Stalin, hated by imperialist governments friendly to the Nazi regime, had to try to split its enemies. It tried to buy time in order to prepare for Nazi Germany’s inevitable and impending attack. And its tactical gamble paid off: when Germany attacked the Soviet Union in 1941, the latter was more prepared. It was the Soviet Union, not the US or any European country, which defeated Hitler’s army, at the cost of millions of lives.

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The same schema is also true in the case of the Philippines. The crisis of the semi-colonial and semi-feudal system and its elite democracy helped the local Communist movement to grow. Marcos’ Martial Law, also a spawn of that system, was an attempt to weaken and destroy that movement – and it is that movement which sustained and led the struggle against Martial Law. It is no less than historical revisionism to depict Marcos and the CPP as engaged in some conspiracy against “liberal democracy” in the Philippines, the existence of which also needs further proof.

Instead of criticizing the fascism of the US-backed Duterte regime, Claudio chose to highlight the “bloody history” of Communists, the regime’s target. Beyond his essay’s “timing,” however, the greater problem lies in his one-sided and ahistorical understanding of killings supposedly done in the name of Communism. One-sided: he did not at least study how Communists and even some academic historians explain these deaths and instead simply parroted the US Cold War line on these. Ahistorical: he did not locate these supposed crimes and excesses in their proper historical contexts.

First, he fails to situate the struggles for Communism that he cites in the context of underdevelopment, people’s suffering and war. Second, he also fails to situate governments adhering to Communism in the context of the state of siege imposed by the US and other Western powers through wars, embargo, sabotage, and other measures. Imperialist policy on Communist governments is reflected by the order of then-US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to weaken the democratically-elected socialist government of Salvador Allende in Chile in the early 1970s: “Make the economy scream.”

Let us be clear: these contexts do not excuse the deaths that occurred under the name of Communism, but they provide a better understanding of these. There were deaths that were committed by Communists in error, but it would be erroneous to remove all deaths in the Communist movement and Communist-inspired governments from their historical contexts and present them as evils of Communism.

Third, Claudio fails to recognize how Communist movements drew lessons and learned from errors committed in the past that resulted in the death of many. Fourth, if the number of deaths caused by a political and economic system is the standard by which it should be measured, then Claudio should have examined the immensely more numerous killings committed in the name of “liberal democracy” and imperialism – which include those who were killed in many a bloody anti-Communist campaign. Alas, Claudio always prefers the caudillo over the cadre.

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He cites Robert Francis Garcia’s book To Suffer Thy Comrades [2001] as proof that local Communists are also murderous. The fact that the killings discussed in the book were committed in a small fraction of the Philippine Left’s more than 50-year history shows that the context of those killings is important.

Again, Claudio does not present that context: military adventurist errors committed by the NPA, heightened government intelligence and attacks, and errors in the NPA’s handling of alleged infiltrators. The fact that the said errors have not been repeated is proof that such killings are not integral to the principles of Communism. It is also proof that local Communists can sum up their experiences, correctly derive lessons from these, and hold on to those lessons in practice.

When Claudio says
“It is the moral obligation of the historian in the Philippines to speak about Communism’s bloody history,” he wants that history extracted from its wider historical context. He refuses to study and engage with the best explanations that Communism has to offer for its own history, instead contenting himself with US Cold War propaganda.

It is telling that Claudio claims that Communism’s central principle is “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” This is central, but secondary to the abolition of private property. He betrays his failure to study Communism itself – in fact, its basic text, The Communist Manifesto – and his reliance on ready-made Cold War propaganda.

It is uncanny that Claudio speaks in terms of “moral obligation” when in the same essay he joins the chorus of the government and the military in tagging legal progressive organizations as “Communist fronts.” The government and the military will not listen to his faint appeals for Communists’ human rights, but their repressive campaign – already in motion carried out by dominant forces in society – will benefit from his demonization of Communists and alleged Communist fronts. It seems that for Claudio, historians and academics also have the moral obligation to lend a hand to the government and the military’s drive to kill and suppress suspected Communists.

Claudio always speaks with the arrogance of someone who thinks that he stands for democracy while his enemies, the Communists, stand for dictatorship. He even calls the CPP a “dictatorial organization.”

Buzludzha Bulgaria6

The strict equation that Claudio makes between democracy and liberal democracy exposes his ignorance. Wendy Brown clarifies: “liberal democracy, Euro-Atlantic modernity’s dominant form, is only one variant of the sharing of political power connoted by the venerable Greek term. Demos + cracy = rule of the people and contrasts with aristocracy, oligarchy, tyranny, and also with a condition of being colonized or occupied… The term carries a simple and purely political claim that the people rule themselves, that the whole rather than the part or an Other is politically sovereign [“We are all democrats now…,” 2011].

More importantly, in class societies, “Democracy and dictatorship are two sides of a coin,” said Francisco Nemenzo, Jr. [“Questioning Marx, Critiquing Marxism,” 1992]. In capitalists democracies, the democracy enjoyed by big capitalists is imposed as a dictatorship on workers and the people, whose only democratic participation is voting during elections. Socialist democracy is the dictatorship of the proletariat imposed on the big bourgeoisie, and since it is enjoyed by the majority beyond regular elections, it is a democracy that is deeper and more real.

In the end, Claudio’s anti-Communism coheres with the strategy summarized by American Marxist Fredric Jameson: “The substitution of politics for economics was always a key move in the hegemonic struggle against Marxism (as in the substitution of questions of freedom for those of exploitation) [“Sartre’s Critique, Volume 2: An Introduction,” 2009].”

Instead of fighting to change the exploitative, unequal, unjust and violent ruling system, anti-Communists like Claudio fight the very Communists who are risking life and limb for such change – using Communism’s “bloody history” as bogeyman. In more arrogant moments in his essays and social media posts, Claudio celebrates US influence over the country, the Philippines’ “liberal democracy,” and the Yellow faction of the ruling classes.

It is in this precise sense – anti-Communism defending the status quo and attacking those who want genuine change – that we can say: anti-Communism can never be responsible. It is always irresponsible. So are the academics and historians that peddle it.

14 December 2017

Galing ang mga larawan dito.

Nagkataong ang mga nagkomento para mapahusay ang sanaysay na ito ay mga nanalo ng National Book Awards. Pagbati kina Kenneth Roland A. Guda at Karl Castro!

Basahin din ang sanaysay ni Sarah Raymundo tungkol kay Leloy Claudio. Napakaraming makabuluhang sanaysay at saliksik dito ni Ramon G. Guillermo.

Kung pwede pang magsingit ng pangungusap sa sulating ito, ilalagay ko bilang pangalawang pangungusap sa pangalawa sa huling talata: They revive ghosts from the past in order to block us from dreaming of a better future, to lock us up in the centuries-long nightmare that persists until the present.

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Talim ng Sining sa Dissident Vicinities

Aldrein Silanga Ka Parago

Nakapunta ako sa art exhibit na Dissident Vicinities sa lugar na kung tawagin ay “Bulwagan ng Dangal” sa UP-Diliman. Naroon ang eksibit ng mga likhang-sining simula Agosto 18 hanggang Setyembre 1 ngayong taon.

Ang ibig sabihin ng “dissident,” isang taong tumututol sa opisyal na patakaran, lalo na ng isang Estadong awtoritaryan. Ang ibig sabihin ng “vicinities,” mga lugar na magkakanugnog. Sa titulo, kinukuha ang elemento ng pagtutol na laman ng unang salita para gawin itong kolektibo, na laman naman ng ikalawa. Tumatama ang titulo sa lalong pagiging awtoritaryan ng rehimen ni Rodrigo Duterte – mahigpit na nagpapasunod sa mga mamamayan, sumisikil sa mga personal na kalayaan.

Sa exhibit guide na ipinapamahagi sa bungad, may paliwanag ang nag-organisa ng eksibit, ang curator na si Lisa Ito-Tapang, propesor sa College of Fine Arts sa UP-Diliman, progresibong kritikong pansining, at aktibistang pangkultura. Pokus ng eksibit, aniya,  ang “mga kilusang masa para sa kalayaan, demokrasya at mga karapatan, na nagsisikap protektahan at ipagtanggol ang mga yamang likas, kabuhayan at komunidad.” Ang konteksto ng mga ito: “tumitinding kawalan ng pagkakapantay-pantay sa larangan ng ekonomiya, kolonyal at imperyal na pagpapalawak, at mga pampulitikang kaguluhan.”

Ang agad na mapapansin ng isang aktibista: marami sa mga likhang-sining ang nakita na nitong nakaraang taon sa mga protesta at iba pang lugar, at sa Facebook o iba pang social media. At positibo ito: ibig sabihin, malapit, kung hindi man nakaugat, sa kilusang masa ang eksibit. Ibig ding sabihin, may antas ng pagiging masigla ang produksyon ng kilusang masa ng mga likhang-sining.

Makikita rito ang “Larawan ng Kapayapaan,” mural na may maraming panel, likha ng mga grupong KARATULA, Tambisan sa Sining, at UGATLahi para sa protesta sa unang State of the Nation Address ni Duterte. Bahagi ito ng paggigiit ng makabayan at demokratikong adyenda ng mga mamamayan sa bagong pangulo. Pawang nakatingala ang mga inilalarawang bidang magsasaka at manggagawa, puno ng optimismo at diwang palaban. Makukulay ang mga obra, nang-eengganyo sa masayang alternatiba at hinaharap na taliwas sa madilim at bulok na lipunang umiiral ngayon.

Melvin Pollero Buhay-Gerilya

Narito rin ang “Ka Parago” ni Aldrein Silanga, mural na nasa gitna ang imahe ni Leoncio Pitao, nilikha bilang parangal sa kumander ng New People’s Army o NPA sa Mindanao. Napatay man siya sa labanan, buhay na buhay si Ka Parago sa larawan at kulay, tulad ng masang Lumad at magsasaka, hukbo, at kilusan na pinaglingkuran niya. Ang laki ng likhang-sining, patunay ng pagpapahalaga sa kanya at ng tapang ng alagad ng sining na lumikha, gayundin ng kilusang masang nangangalaga.

Unang beses ito na makikita ng publiko sa aktwal ang “Buhay-Gerilya,” tesis sa UP College of Fine Arts ni Melvin Pollero na ang larawan ay lumaganap na sa social media. Paglalarawan ito ng iba’t ibang aspeto ng buhay ng NPA gamit ang telang tapeta at chalk – na siya ring gamit ng NPA sa mga talakayang pang-edukasyon sa loob ng sonang gerilya. Ang tumatanaw ng likhang-sining ang binibigyan ng pag-aaral, na simple at madali nilang mauunawaan – kung hindi sila kasama sa uring nagsasamantala, pahabol ng makatang Aleman na si Bertolt Brecht hinggil sa Komunismo.

Nakatindig sa eksibit ang “Panginoong Walang Lupa” ni Archie Oclos, painting ng manggagawang bukid na nakapako sa krus tulad ni Hesukristo. Mapapansin ang bisagra sa likod ng kahoy na sumusuporta sa imahe, na noong Semana Santa ay itinayo ni Oclos – lingid sa awtoridad, estilong gerilya – sa mismong Hacienda Luisita. Panawagan ito na makita sa manggagawang bukid, at sa masa sa kabuuan, ang kaapihang dinanas ni Kristo at ang potensyal na maging tagapagligtas ng sambayanan.

Muli namang nakatanghal rito ang “Makibaka para sa Kalayaan,” painting ni Voltaire Guray, na nilikha niya noong siya’y bilanggong pulitikal at unang ipinakita sa publiko sa eksibit na Timyas ng Paglaya noong 2016. Makikita ang marubdob na pag-aasam sa kalayaan ng mga detenidong pulitikal sa mga imaheng palaban at sa indayog ng maliliwanag na kulay na taliwas sa itim na likuran – kalayaan mula sa pagkakapiit at kalayaan para sa sambayanan.

Karl Castro The Rustle of Leaves

Tinipon din sa eksibit ang ilang progresibong likhang-sining na nauna nang nalikha para sa iba’t ibang lunan, pero hindi naipamalas nang prominente sa kilusang masa. Muli, patunay ito ng isang antas ng sigla ng gawaing pangkultura ng kilusang masa sa bansa.

Bahagi ng eksibit ang dambuhalang mural na “Internal Refugees” ni Pablo Baen Santos, beteranong progresibong alagad ng sining. Dito, itinatanghal ang reyalidad ng “pagbabakwit,” halaw sa salitang Ingles na “evacuate,” sa bansa. Ramdam ang nakakagalit na sakit at pighati bunsod ng dahas at dislokasyon. Natapos likhain noong 1989 para ipakita ang nagpapatuloy na pasismo sa tabing ng nagbalik na “demokrasya,” napapanahon ang pagpapakita nito ngayong 2017 sa harap ng pagdausdos ng pekeng demokrasya patungong lantad na pasismo.

Maaalala ang kwento ng Komunistang pintor na si Pablo Picasso. Nang makita raw ng isang sundalong Nazi sa Germany ang larawan ng painting niyang “Guernica,” tinanong siya nito: “Ikaw ba ang gumawa niyan?” Ang sagot niya: “Hindi. Kayo.” Pwedeng ipalit si Baen Santos at isang sundalong Pilipino sa kwento kaugnay ng “Internal Refugees.”

Narito ang “Corporate Crusade/The False Prophet,” painting ni Raoul Ignacio “Iggy” Rodriguez, na simpleng pagpapakita ng diyalektikal na pagtatambal at pagiging kambal ng malaking kapitalista at ng makinarya ng panunupil at pananakop. Simpleng paglalantad ito ng tunay na brutal na batayan ng marangal na postura ng sistemang kapitalista.

Sa “Mag-uuma,” maikling sipi sa isang bidyo-dokumentaryo, ipinakita ni Kiri Lluch Dalena ang pag-awit ng isang magsasaka sa Bukidnon na biktima ng militarisasyon noong rehimeng US-Noynoy Aquino. Tungkol sa pang-aapi at paglaban ang awit, at nag-iimbita na alamin ang kwento ng mga mag-uuma at makiisa sa kanila. Ang pagiging payak ng sipi, nagdidiin sa pagiging makatotohanan ng salaysay.

Nasa eksibit din ang “Armaggedon” ni Federico “BoyD” Sulapas Dominguez. Puti at itim ang imahen, kaiba sa karaniwan nang makukulay na likhang-sining ng beteranong pintor. Kakatwa ang mga napiling kulay, dahil tuligsa ang likhang-sining sa impormasyong pinapalabas ng telebisyon o ng midya ng malalaking kapitalista sa kabuuan.

Renan Ortiz God of Death

Katangi-tangi naman ang mga drowing ng mga estudyanteng Lumad ng Bakwit School, na nagpoprotesta sa militarisasyon ng kanilang mga paaralan at komunidad. Malinaw ang ipinapakita ng mga payak na drowing: mga bata, mga estudyante, paaralan at militar – kumbinasyong sapat nang umani ng pagkondena sa kalagayan at pakikiisa sa mga biktimang lumalaban.

Kapansin-pansin naman ang mga likhang-sining na nagmaksimisa sa mga posibilidad ng porma na ipinapahintulot, o hinihingi pa nga, ng venue ng eksibit na tila museo. Maraming likhang-sining ang multi-media, na humahalaw pa rin, sa iba’t ibang paraan, sa mga naunang porma ng likhang-sining.

Tampok dito ang mga naiilawang larawan at bidyo ng iba’t ibang effigy na nilikha ng UGATLahi Artists Collective sa nakaraang mga taon na nagpapakita ng tuligsa sa iba’t ibang pangulo. Mahusay na naitanghal ang mahalagang papel at praktikal na gamit ng mga effigy sa mga protesta. Ipinapaalala rin ng mismong porma ng pagpapakita sa eksibit ang malakas na rehistro sa telebisyon o anumang screen ng bidyo ng effigy sa gitna ng protesta, lalo na ang pagsunog sa mga ito.

Tampok din ang maiksi at nambabagabag na “Bihag” nina Leonilo Doloricon at Tom Estrera. Ang mga dibuho ng beteranong pintor, pinakilos sa animation ng nakababatang alagad ng sining. Kakatwa: pinagalaw ang mga tao sa imahe – manggagawa, magsasaka – para ipakita, sa kanilang paulit-ulit na pagkilos, ang pagkapako sa isang kalagayan sa sistemang ito na katulad ng bihag.

Narito yata ang pinaka-galit na effigy ni Duterte na nalikha hanggang sa ngayon – ang “Death’s Head” ni Renan Ortiz. Pulahan, at humahatak sa masang dilawan, ka-DDS at nakakaraming mapanuri. Hitler at mala-demonyo ang paglalarawan, bunsod ng pamamaslang sa mga pinaghihinalaang adik at sa mga aktibista, sa papaigting na panunupil, at pagtalikod sa mga pangako sa sambayanan. Pinalutang sina Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa ng pulisya at Delfin Lorenzana ng militar, mga nangungunang utak-pulbura sa gobyerno ni Duterte.

Renz Lee Third from the World

Sa “The Rustle of Leaves,” ipinakita ni Karl Castro, gamit ang mga dahon, liwanag mula sa likod ng mga ito, at mga imahe ng binti, hita at paa na nakatatak sa mga ito ang pagiging saksi ng kalikasan sa kanayunan sa iba’t ibang tagpo ng presensya ng militar, presensya ng NPA, kabuhayan ng masa, at iba pa. Kakaibang paraan ng pagpapakita, at pagtanaw, sa araw-araw na reyalidad ng tunggalian sa kanayunan.

Isang simpleng painting ang “Objects That Object” ni Henrielle Pagkaliwangan na nagpapakita ng iba’t ibang gamit – plakard, balatengga, effigy, bandila – na iniluwal ng mga protesta. Dito, ang mga bagay na parang hangin na hinihinga na lang para sa mga aktibista, hinango para ipakitang likha at ambag.

Sa “Mayflowers (Stories we only learn through Skype calls and letters)” ni Nathalie Dagmang, ipinalabas ang tamis at pighati ng buhay ng mga Overseas Filipino Workers at kanilang pamilya, na sentral na sa buhay ng ating bayan. Ipinakitang tagos hanggang pamilya, at hanggang puso, ang epekto ng kawalang-trabaho sa ating bansa, bunsod ng atrasadong agrikultura at bansot na industriya.

May malalaking panel na nagpapakita ng mga pinalaking pahina mula sa Philippine Collegian, opisyal na publikasyon ng mga mag-aaral ng UP-Diliman. Ang laman, mga artikulo at larawan tungkol sa malalaking kilos-protesta noong dekada ’70 at ’80. Mayroon ding pinalaking sipi ng serye-seryeng paglilimbag ng librong Philippine Society and Revolution na may titulong “Philippine Crisis and Revolution.”

Natatangi ang “Third from the World” ni Renz Lee sa paggamit ng mga lumang larawan at chalk sa pader para ipakita ang pagkakatulad ng mga bansa sa Timog Silangang Asya pagdating sa dominasyon ng dayuhang kapangyarihan, karanasan sa awtoritaryanismo, at paglaban ng kilusang masa. Para itong pinagandang leksyon sa klase, kung saan pinatampok ang pagiging mahalaga ng mga kilusang estudyante sa paglakas ng buong kilusang masa sa naturang mga bansa. Dito, ang relatibong bagong nilalaman hinggil sa rehiyong kinabibilangan ng bansa, hindi inurungan at hinanapan ng mainam na porma.

Sa pagbubuod, pagdating sa tema, positibo sa Dissident Vicinities ang paglalarawan sa kalagayan ng masang Pilipino, gayundin ang paglalantad sa mga pangulo ng Pilipinas na pawang reaksyunaryo. Kaugnay ng mga aspetong ito, gayunman, makikita ang kahinaan ng hindi pagpaksa nang may diin sa lumalaking hanay ng maralitang lungsod at paghahari ng imperyalismong US sa bansa.

Sekundaryo ang mga punang ito, gayunman, lalo na’t kung ikukumpara sa malaking pangunahing positibo sa eksibit – ang paglalarawan, sa napakaraming buhay na porma, kapwa sa sabayang armado at hindi-armadong pakikibaka ng sambayanang Pilipino. Masasabi ito tungkol sa mga pinaksa ng mga mayor na likhang-sining sa eksibit, ngunit masasabi rin ito kaugnay ng buong eksibit mismo, na maituturing ding bahagi ng naturang pakikibaka. Sana’y maitanghal ito sa maraming lugar at maraming kababayan ang makakita.

30 Agosto 2017

Galing ang mga imahe sa Facebook Page ng Dissident Vicinities.

Judy Kind of Love

Judy Taguiwalo1

Maraming seksyon ng lipunan ang kumokondena ngayon sa pagtanggi, nitong Agosto 17, ng Commission on Appointments sa pagkakatalaga ni Prop. Judy M. Taguiwalo bilang sekretaryo ng Department of Social Welfare and Development. Bukod sa Kaliwa, na maasahan na dahil matagal nang aktibista si Taguiwalo, nagsasalita ang mga pulitiko, pahayagan, personalidad, at maging “social media practitioners” na kilalang kakampi ni Pang. Rodrigo Duterte. Mismong CA ay hindi nakapagbigay ng batayan para sa desisyon at ang Malakanyang ay nagpahayag ng pagkalungkot. Para tuloy karaniwang krimen ang naganap – walang nagsasalita para ipagtanggol, pero nangyayari pa rin.

Alam ng marami, kung hindi man ng lahat, na pasado si Taguiwalo kung kwalipikasyon ang pag-uusapan. Matagal na siyang aktibista – nagtaya ng buhay sa paglaban sa diktadurang US-Marcos at namuhay nang simple – at sa gayo’y malapit sa mga maralita at kakampi nila. Progresibong guro siya ng kolehiyong laan sa Social Work at Community Development, angkop sa DSWD, at humawak ng iba’t ibang katungkulan sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas. Kasama na ang pagiging kinatawan ng kaguruan sa Board of Regents, pinakamataas na lupong pampatakaran sa UP. At nitong naging sekretaryo siya ng DSWD, ipinakita niyang mahusay siya, maaasahan, at walang kapaguran.

Bakit kung gayon tinanggal ng CA si Taguiwalo sa kanyang katungkulan? Dahil tinutulan niya ang pagbabalik ng sistemang pork barrel ng mga mambabatas kaugnay ng DSWD. Serbisyo nga naman ang ibinibigay ng ahensya, hindi na dapat dumaan sa mga pulitikong gustong magpalakas sa “nasasakupan” at nagsisilbi pang hadlang. Dahil siya’y hindi maku-kurap o “incorruptible,” at ginamit ng mga nagdaang pangulo ang DSWD na daluyan ng kurakot. Paano, madaling magdeklara na ang ganito karaming tao, halimbawa, ay nabigyan ng serbisyo – kahit hindi naman. Dahil, sa madaling salita, hadlang siya sa burukrata-kapitalismo – paggamit ng katungkulan para magpayaman.

Dahil ang maraming maralitang lumalaban ay tiningnan ng DSWD ni Taguiwalo na maralita muna bago lumalaban, at tinulungan: mula sa mga kasapi ng Kadamay na nag-okupa sa Pandi, Bulacan hanggang sa mga Lumad na nakikipaglaban para sa kanilang mga komunidad laban sa militarisasyon. Dahil kinwestyon niya ang balangkas ng World Bank at iba pang makapangyarihang institusyon para sa Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino at iba pang programa ng ahensya. Dahil tuluy-tuloy siyang nagsasalita mula sa loob ng gobyerno tungkol sa alternatibang programa at mga reporma laban sa kahirapan. Dahil, sa madaling salita, hadlang siya sa imperyalismo, sa paghahari ng US sa ating bayan.

Judy Taguiwalo2

Aktibista si Taguiwalo, at walang iba kundi ang National Democratic Front of the Philippines o NDFP ang nagnomina sa kanya sa pwesto. Progresibong propesor siya, at sa gayo’y namumuhay alinsunod sa prinsipyo – hindi katulad ng mga pulitiko na para sa sariling pakinabang. Babae siya, sariwang hangin sa gabineteng puro lalake at marami pa ang galing pa sa militar na patriyarkal na institusyon. Sa DSWD, inilinaw niyang hindi pwede ang katiwalian at pinabilis at pinaunlad ang mga serbisyo para sa maralita. Sumikat ang kanyang pagtanggi, sa harap ng isang matinding bagyo, na humingi ng tulong sa ibang bansa – sa solidong batayan na sapat ang pondo ng gobyerno.

Kaya tama ang sinabi ni Sass Rogando Sasot, social media practitioner na tagasuporta ni Duterte. Sa ilang pagkakataon, hindi siya kasundo ng mga progresibo, pero sa usapin ni Taguiwalo ay tumpak siya: ang pagkakatalaga ni Taguiwalo sa gobyerno ni Duterte ay nagbigay ng pag-asa sa marami na posible ang pagbabago, bagay na ipinangako ni Duterte mismo. Ngayon, sa pagkakatanggal sa kanya – at ni Gina Lopez, dating sekretaryo ng Department of Environment and Natural Resources – kinitil umano ng CA ang pag-asang ito. Napakalinaw ng kontradiksyon: ang lupon na dapat magtiyak na kwalipikado ang mga nasa gabinete ay nagtanggal ng isa sa pinaka-kwalipikado rito.

Pero hindi makakalusot si Duterte sa pananagutan. Hindi niya sinuportahan si Taguiwalo, tulad ni Lopez noon, sa harap ng CA. Hawak niya ang “supermayorya” ng Kongreso at Senado, at mas malaki ang posibilidad na hindi matatanggal si Taguiwalo kung direkta siyang nag-atas. Ayon pa sa balita, tinanggihan niya ang kahilingan ni Taguiwalo na magkaroon ng personal na pag-uusap. Sa pinakamainam, ginusto ni Duterte na kabigin ang Kaliwa sa pagtalaga kay Taguiwalo sa DSWD. Pero hindi niya kayang panindigan ang mga hakbangin ng maka-Kaliwang sekretaryo laban sa mga makapangyarihan. Manindigan o maging dekorasyon lang? Pinili ni Taguiwalo ang una.

Judy Taguiwalo3

Kabalintunaan, pero nasunod ang panawagan ni Sen. Antonio Trillanes III, dating kritiko ni Duterte bagamat nitong huli’y tahimik. Sabi ni Trillanes, ilang linggo bago ang desisyon ng CA, dapat nang sibakin ni Duterte si Taguiwalo at iba pang maka-Kaliwa sa gabinete. Aniya, may “daan-daang kadre ng CPP-NPA” na nasa mga ahensya ng gobyerno, nag-iipon ng “armas at pambala” na gagamitin laban sa mga sundalo. Wala siyang ebidensya at nagmumula lang ang akusasyon niya sa ideolohiyang anti-Kaliwa at anti-Komunista. Ang presensya pa lang ni Taguiwalo at mga kasamahan sa gabinete, tinitingnan nang masama at banta ng mga militarista’t maka-Kanan sa gobyerno.

Isa na namang masamang senyales ang pagkatanggal kay Taguiwalo ng pagtanggi ng rehimeng Duterte sa makabuluhang reporma at sa “tunay na pagbabago.” Hindi kataka-taka, naganap ito sa gitna ng mabilis na pihit pa-Kanan – pabor sa US at patakarang neoliberal at militarista – ng rehimeng Duterte. Sa gitna ng ekstensyon ng Martial Law sa Mindanao at ng pagpahintulot sa pakikialam ng militar ng Amerika. Sa gitna ng pagkabalam ng usapang pangkapayapaan ng gobyerno at NDFP na dapat ay tatalakay na sa mga repormang sosyo-ekonomiko. Sa gitna ng pagpapaigting ng kontra-maralitang “gera kontra-droga” at pambubuyo ni Duterte ng mas maramihan pang pagpatay.

Sa kalibre ni Taguiwalo, siguradong hindi niya haharapin ang pagkatanggal nang malungkot. May lungkot, marahil, dahil mas malamang ay babalik sa dating gawi ang ahensya, palayo sa paglilingkod sa maralita. Pero tiyak, saanmang porma ng pakikibaka, patuloy siyang maglilingkod sa mahihirap at sa sambayanan. Patok ang kanyang mga pahayag: Mayaman ang Pilipinas, pero naghihirap ang mga Pilipino. May pera ang gobyerno, pero marami ang hindi napupunta sa tao. Sanay akong mag-MRT. Ang pagiging maka-Kaliwa ay paglilingkod nang mahusay, may integridad, at pagmamahal sa bayan. Lagi akong Serve the People. Naghihintay na ang mga kasama ko sa labas.

Larawan ng pagmamahal sa bayan ang buong buhay ni Taguiwalo. “Judy kind of love,” kung hahalaw sa mang-aawit na si Phil Collins. Nitong huli, nagkaroon siya ng pagkakataong ipakita na kaya ng Kaliwa na maglingkod sa bayan nang mahusay kahit sa loob ng ganitong klaseng gobyerno. Pero nakatindig rin ang rekord niya, at ng Kaliwa, ng mas mahusay na paglilingkod sa bayan sa labas nito.

19 Agosto 2017

Galing ang mga larawan sa Facebook Page na Manay Judy Taguiwalo.

RogerNation Regeneration

Metro Manila Traffic1

Napuno ang UP Theater nitong Marso 29 ng mga nagbigay ng parangal kay Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal, dating tagapagsalita ng Communist Party of the Philippines o CPP at mukha, para sa marami sa publiko, ng New People’s Army o NPA. Karamihan sa mga dumalo ay magsasaka, manggagawa, at maralita; marami ang naglakbay pa mula Timog Katagalugan.

Noong nabubuhay pa siya, isa nang alamat si Ka Roger. Sabi nga ng isang polyetong ipinamigay sa pagtitipon, naging biro sa hanay ng mahihirap na “isusumbong” sa kanya ang mga nang-aapi. Matagal at tuluy-tuloy ang pagsisikap ng militar na arestuhin o patayin siya, pero hindi ito nagtagumpay. Masasabing itong parangal ay tungkol sa pinakahuling kabanata ng nagpapatuloy niyang alamat.

Taong 2011 pa namatay si Ka Roger dahil sa karamdaman, pero ngayon lang dadalhin at ililibing ang mga abo ng kanyang bangkay sa bayang sinilangan niya, sa Ibaan, Batangas. Mainam ang tyempo: ang Marso 29 ay anibersaryo rin ng NPA, na kinasapian niya sa mahabang panahon hanggang sa kanyang pagpanaw.

Sa programang mahaba at malaman na puno ng mga awit, awit-galaw, tula, talumpati, bidyo, at iba pang malikhaing porma, sinariwa ang buhay at pakikibaka ni Ka Roger. Mas naipatimo ang kabuuang takbo ng buhay niya at ang mga katangian niya bilang rebolusyonaryo.

Ang kwento ng buhay ni Ka Roger hanggang sa panahon bago siya naging aktibista ay klasikong kwento ng magsasakang pinagkaitan ng oportunidad sa buhay. Nagtapos siya nang may karangalan sa elementarya at hayskul pero hindi siya nakapag-aral agad ng kolehiyo dahil sa kahirapan. Lalabas na nakapagkolehiyo rin siya, pero matapos ang ilang taon ng pag-iipon ng pera.

Sa isang bidyo, ikinwento niyang nakaambag sa pagkamulat niya ang hindi pagtanggap sa kanya bilang manggagawa sa isang pabrika ng kulambo sa kanilang probinsya. Sa kung anong dahilan, istiryutipo sa mga Batangueño ang pagbebenta ng moskitero, na dapat ipag-iba sa “musketeer.” Hindi siya tinanggap noong una dahil hindi siya tapos ng hayskul; noong ikalawa, dahil hindi siya umabot sa umano’y rekisitong tangkad. Ang pangyayaring ito, at ang alingawngaw ng radikalismo ng First Quarter Storm ng 1970, ang nagtulak sa kanyang maging aktibista.

Nadakip siya ilang buwan pagkadeklara ng Martial Law noong Setyembre 1972, nakulong nang limang buwan, matagumpay na tumakas, at pagkatapos ay sumapi sa NPA para hindi na umalis kahit kailan. Sa panahong iyun ng pambansang paglalatag ng CPP at NPA, naging mahalaga ang ambag niya sa pagkilos sa hugpungan ng mga rehiyong Bicol at Timog Katagalugan.

Metro Manila Traffic2

Isang lider-magbubukid galing sa huling rehiyon si Tat Pido Gonzalez, ang nagbigay-pugay sa “mga kasama,” sa mga NPA, na malaki ang naitulong sa mga magsasaka. Aniya, tumaas ang diwang palaban at pampulitikang kamalayan nila bunsod ng pagsisikap ng NPA sa kanilang hanay. Nagbago ang tugon nila sa mga mangangamkam ng lupa: kung noo’y tahimik na tumatangis, sabi niya sa wikang matulain, ngayo’y naghahasa ng itak. At masasabi ito ng mga magsasaka hindi lang sa Timog Katagalugan kundi sa buong bayan.

Tumining ang maraming detalye sa buhay ni Ka Roger. Na naging relihiyoso, at anti-komunista pa nga, siya bago naging aktibista. Na mapagpatawa siya at mapagkumbaba. Na simula’t sapul ay mahilig na siya sa radyo. Na kahit umagang-umaga at kahit naglalakad sa gubat ay nakikinig siya ng transistor radio.

Isang malaking positibo sa parangal ang pagpapalabas ng maraming bidyo ni Ka Roger in action, wika nga – hindi sa bakbakang militar, kundi sa bakbakang pampropaganda. Naging pagkakataon ito para maranasan, muli para sa marami at sa unang beses para sa iba pa, ang husay niya sa gawaing ito.

Sabi nga ni Juliet de Lima-Sison, konsultant ng National Democratic Front of the Philippines sa usapang pangkapayapaan sa gobyerno, sa isang nakabidyong pahayag: “Napakalaking bentahe niya ang magsalita sa loob ng Pilipinas mismo, at mula sa hanay ng mga rebolusyonaryong pwersa at masa. Malinaw at tuwiran ang kanyang estilo ng pagpapahayag tungkol sa mga pinakamasalimuot na kalagayan at pagsusuri sa simpleng mga terminong gagap ng masa.”

Nagmarka, dahil siguro napapanahon, ang paliwanag ni Ka Roger tungkol sa “demokrasya” sa bansa kaugnay ng eleksyong magaganap noong kinapanayam siya. Ang umiiral raw sa bansa ay “demokrasya para lang sa may maraming pera.” Mapapaisip ka tuloy: kailan huling ginamit sa propaganda ang simpleng ekspresyong iyan? Pagkatapos, medyo nasamid na siya, pero mahihinuhang ang tinutumbok niya ay demokrasya para sa may “guns, goons at gold.”

Sa mga bidyong ipinakita, masasaksihan sa mga pahayag ni Ka Roger ang pag-aangkin sa dayuhang teorya ng lokal na reyalidad, ng pagsasanib ng talas ng rebolusyonaryong proletaryo at kasimplehan ng masang pesante, ng pagkakaisa ng sinasabing “Russian revolutionary sweep” at “kakuwanan” ng mga Pinoy. Malinaw ang layunin niya sa bawat pahayag: ang maunawaan ng nakikinig o nanonood mula sa kung nasaan sila sa aktwal, hindi kung saan sila posibleng naroon.

May bahagi sa programa na kiniliti ang interes ng mga nanonood sa pagkatagpo ni Ka Roger sa babaeng minahal at pinakasalan niya. Pero saglit lang ang kilig. Mas pumaksa na sa pagsasalikop ng kanyang buhay-pamilya, na sa kaso niya’y ibang-iba sa karaniwag pakahulugan sa salitang iyan, at ng rebolusyon.

Metro Manila Traffic3

Isa ring NPA ang kanyang asawang si Rosemarie Domanais, na napatay sa isang labanan noong 2011 sa Mauban Quezon.

Noong 1989, anim na taong-gulang pa lang ang kanyang panganay na si Andrea, dinukot ito ng militar, kasama ang lola nito. Pinilit itong manawagan sa radyo sa tatay niya para itigil na ang paglaban at sumuko na sa militar. Lumalabas na hindi sumunod si Andrea sa gusto ng militar; sa halip, pinuri niya ang ginagawa ng ama at nanawagan ditong ituloy ang paglaban. Lumang gawi na ng militar ang gamitin ang pamilya laban sa mga rebolusyonaryo, na muling ipinaalala ng ginawa nila kay Rebelyn, anak ni Leoncio “Kumander Parago” Pitao noong 2009.

Biglang-pasok ang nakarekord na pahayag ng isa pa niyang anak, hindi ipinakita ang mukha dahil sa pag-iingat sa seguridad. Ito, sa tingin ko, ang rurok ng buong parangal.
Higit sa paggunita sa mga personal na katangian ni Ka Roger, nanawagan siyang alalahanin ang kanyang ama sa pamamagitan ng pagtulad sa halimbawa nito sa iba’t ibang larangan sa pagsusulong ng rebolusyon.

Habang nagsasalita siya, maaalala ang kapatid niyang si Andrea Rosal, iligal na inaresto habang pitong-buwang buntis. Iligal na dinakip sa Metro Manila pero pinagbintangang NPA para mabigyang-katwiran ang pagkulong. Namatayan ng anak, si Diona Andrea, habang nakapiit. At pinalaya lang matapos umani ng malawak na pagkondena ang gobyerno at militar dahil sa ginawa sa kanya.

Halu-halong emosyon ang mararamdaman sa pakikinig sa anak ni Ka Roger. Sa nilalaman, nagsasanib ang parangal niya bilang anak at bilang kapwa-rebolusyonaryo ng kanyang ama. May magkakasabay na hibla ng damdamin sa boses niya. May tono ng seryosong pagmumuni sa lugar at kabuluhan ni Ka Roger sa pakikibaka. May lungkot sa pagkawala ng ama. At may tatag ng pagpupunyagi sa kabila ng lahat ng nangyari sa kanilang pamilya, para sa pambansa at panlipunang paglaya.

Isinalin niya ang pighati sa pagkawala ng kanyang ama sa alab para sa rebolusyon. Tagos sa puso ang pananalita niya. Malinaw na huwaran ang buhay na tinatahak niya. Sa kanyang katauhan, parang nabuhay muli si Ka Roger.

Sa bahaging ito naging kongkreto – may luha, pawis at dugo – ang sinabi ng isa sa mga naunang nagsalita: Hangga’t walang tunay na pagbabago sa ating bayan, namatay man si Ka Roger, mag-iiba lang ang mga mukha at pangalan, pero laging may papalit at magpapatuloy sa paglaban.

Kung may kahinaan man ang parangal, iyan ay sa tunog; pana-panahong hindi marinig ang sinasabi sa entablado. Pero malayong sekundaryo na iyan, dahil malakas, sumisigaw, at tiyak na aalingawngaw ang mensahe nito.

Sa pamamagitan ng parangal, napagtibay at napagyaman ang alamat ni Ka Roger, at bilang bahagi ng tinatawag na “epikong bayan, ng digmang bayan” na patuloy pa ring kinakatha ng mga anak niya at ng mga kapatid nila sa pakikibaka. Isinasalin na sa pamamagitan ng bibig, tungo sa kamalayan, ang kwento niya.

Kahit sa pagpaparangal sa patay, bumubuhay ang rebolusyon ng dugo ng mga nagsusulong nito, at nanghihikayat sa pakikibaka ng maraming buhay. Isa pang patunay ng tiyak nitong pagtatagumpay.

31 Marso 2016

Galing ang mga larawand dito.

Basahin si Renato M. Reyes, Jr. tungkol sa pagpatay sa mga magsasakang nagpoprotesta sa Kidapawan, North Cotabato.

Misunderstanding Duterte and the Philippine Left

Subject

There’s this fascist politician who’s a formidable candidate for the presidency in the Philippines and he’s being supported by the authoritarian Philippine Left. That, in sum, is the general impression that “Rodrigo Duterte’s One-Man Revolution,” an essay published last February 19 in Jacobinmag.com and authored by one CJ Chanco, leaves in the minds of the online publication’s international readers.

The impression violates facts and mangles the truth. And not only because the underground Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) or any of the organizations associated with it, simply do not support the presidential candidacy of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. But because, more importantly, Chanco plainly cannot make heads or tails of Duterte as a politician and presidential candidate, of the Philippine Left, and of the relationship between the two – something the verbosity of his article cannot cover up.

On the one hand, Chanco says that Duterte has “a way of sounding good to every possible audience,” has a “schizophrenic platform,” and has “years of mastery of the delicate balancing act required in the management of the testy politics characteristic of the nation’s war-torn southern frontier.” On the other hand, his description of the “vision” of Duterte’s “revolution” is more coherent and monolithic: “capitalism with Filipino characteristics, in other words, where a neoliberal economy and political authoritarianism combine with the utmost efficiency.”

In reality, Duterte’s stands on various issues do not form a coherent vision and are often contradictory. This February, he was praised by progressive peasant organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas for promising land reform and government support for farmers in one forum. The same group, however, immediately criticized him after he expressed agreement with 100 percent foreign ownership of lands in another forum just 12 hours after making his pro-farmer statements. He was also praised by progressive labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) after he declared opposition to contractualization. The same group, however, criticized him for calling for a stop to unionism, with Duterte even threatening to kill KMU unionists if they refuse to heed his call.

As a politician, he is congenial to both the Philippine Left and Ferdinand Marcos, the former dictator and the Left’s nemesis. Inday Espina-Varona, an astute observer of Philippine politics, notes that “The strongman accused of encouraging death squads in his city is also a staunch defender of human rights of activists.”

Duterte is therefore not a one-man revolutionary, either of the Left or of the Right. His character is immediately recognizable to those familiar with dominant politics in the Philippines: He is a traditional elite politician who is exceptionally pragmatic in his dealings with various forces in Philippine society. He is firm only on a single issue: peace and order. All his contradictory stands on different issues make sense only when seen from this lens.

Jaws

Chanco makes the Davao politician appear bigger than he actually is. He makes it seem that Duterte’s appeal cuts across classes and claims that Duterte is “overwhelmingly popular,” even expressing fears about “the willingness of the majority to fall for his message.” He says that Davao City is like Singapore “in the minds of many,” that Duterte is compared with Lee Kuan Yew or Ferdinand Marcos, and that Duterte “has become something of a model for other mayors across the country.” He says that Duterte is similar to “a phenomenon echoed elsewhere, from the rise of far-right parties in Europe to Donald Trump in the United States.”

The reality is much more modest. While he has a solid, even fanatical, base of support, Duterte topped surveys only once, in early December, a small dent in the survey-engrossed dominant politics of the Philippines. That may be the result of his supporters’ clamor for him to run, which reached a crescendo on the deadline for the filing of candidacies and continued immediately after. His campaign is particularly strong on social media mileage – #du30 supporters are among the most active online, topping polls and flooding comment boxes and newsfeeds, rivaled only by the well-established machinery of the administration camp.

And yet, Filipinos have not been migrating to find work in Davao City in the same way that many Filipinos have migrated to find work in Singapore. Comparison with Lee Kuan Yew or Marcos may be part of Duterte’s publicity drive, but is not the popular view. Some people may be holding up Duterte as a model for mayors in the country, but he is not yet a widely-recognized example, and Chanco would be hard pressed to pinpoint a city mayor in the Philippines who is trying to emulate the Davao City mayor.

Espina-Varona pinpoints the Achilles’ heel of Duterte’s presidential run: “Duterte’s main problem remains the lack of financial big guns.” Which explains his lack of a senatorial slate and is a clear sign of his incapacity to mount a strong nationwide campaign. And that, in Philippine politics, does not augur well for a presidential candidate. Donald Trump-style rhetoric aside, one thing is clear: Duterte does not have Trump’s wealth, or that of Trump’s counterparts in the Philippines.

Chanco mentions the claim made by Prof. Jose Maria Sison, founding chairperson of the CPP whom Chanco accuses of still being the “CPP chairman,” about the Left’s “long history of engagement with the Davao mayor.” But he makes it appear that the Left wants to move closer to Duterte the presidential candidate, even to the point of abandoning the candidate whom it has endorsed earlier. He says the CPP’s “front organizations” want to “benefit” from Duterte’s “popularity,” seeing “in him a hope for a viable peace process.”

Comical

As a Davao politician, Duterte has indeed for the longest time been a good friend of the Left. As Sison himself states, “The local revolutionary forces in Davao City consider Mayor Duterte as someone they can negotiate with and make reasonable agreements with.” Duterte, pragmatic politician that he is, has maintained good relations with the Left, whose organized strength is most formidable in Davao City and the entire Mindanao island in general.

The truth is that the Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan or Makabayan, the progressive electoral alliance which Chanco accuses of being a CPP front, openly supports another presidential candidate, Senator Grace Poe, whom he describes as “perhaps the sanest bet.” Sison’s statements favoring Duterte were made in recognition of his long-standing good relations with the Left, and do not mean a shift of support to him. In the first place, the CPP, as Sison states repeatedly, does not recognize the validity of the bourgeois elections and does not participate in the latter.

Contrary to facts, however, Chanco insists that the Left supports Duterte because “Duterte’s authoritarianism mirrors that of the CPP” – surely a candidate for the award for argumentative leap of the year. His lengthy analysis of Duterte is merely a wick for his bombshell of accusations against the Philippine Left – lazy accusations which are supported neither by facts nor arguments.

First off, while the Philippine Left is open to tactical alliances with most politicians, pointedly excluding the Marcos and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cliques, it takes particular pride in alliances with politicians who take nationalist stands on various issues and have the courage to speak out on these: senators Lorenzo M. Tañada, Jose W. Diokno, Teofisto Guingona, among others. If an alliance with Duterte is enough for Chanco to say that the Philippine Left shares his “authoritarianism,” then the Left’s alliances with the most nationalist and courageous politicians, which are its most visible alliances, merit deeper and greater consideration.

Chanco tellingly claims that the “authoritarianism” of the CPP “has become something of the reverse image of the state violence it ritually condemns” and adds that the CPP-led people’s war “has claimed thousands of lives and sapped energy, time, and resources from alternative means of political mobilization.”

This is most foul. Equating the violence of an armed Communist movement with that of the US imperialist-backed state of big comprador capitalists and landlords is definitely not progressive, let alone Marxist. It ignores the fundamental exploitation and oppression being maintained, even made worse, by that state as well as the people’s sovereign right to take up arms to defend themselves and bring down their oppressors. Chanco demonizes the armed struggle which, for all its weaknesses and even faults, remains morally superior to the violence of the reactionary state.

Thibault Jouvent

In the country’s history, the armed struggle did not get in the way of “alternative means of political mobilization” but has served as the main means of political mobilization that enabled other forms of political mobilization. It has become the chief means by which the peasant masses, and the toiling masses in general – who comprise the majority of Philippine society – have fought back and struggled for national and social emancipation. The 30th anniversary of the Edsa People Power uprising should remind us that the armed struggle waged by the New People’s Army, together with the underground organizations in the cities, both led by the CPP, served as the backbone of the struggle against the US-backed Marcos fascist dictatorship.

Chanco then rattles off the CPP’s supposed “defeats in the armed struggle,” losses in the “battle for hegemony,” weaknesses in “raising political consciousness or putting an inspiring alternative to the status quo,” “presidential campaign interventions” that “consist of slandering candidates in largely personal terms, often at the expense of a deeper, more structural analysis” – to pave the way for his recommendations.

The CPP would be the last to say that it does not have weaknesses or defeats. As a Maoist party, subscribes to Mao Zedong’s belief that “conscientious practice of self-criticism” is a “hallmark distinguishing our Party from all other political parties.” It presents and addresses weaknesses and defeats in its anniversary statements and in numerous memoranda on various issues. Chanco’s description of the CPP’s weaknesses and defeats, however, are either too impressionistic when general (“raising political consciousness or putting an inspiring alternative to the status quo”) or too petty when particular (“slandering candidates in personal terms”).

The more important issue, however, is whether the Philippine Left’s weaknesses and defeats take precedence over its strengths and advances. Chanco himself admits that the CPP leads “the longest-running communist insurgency in Asia” and “remains the largest organized force on the Left” in the Philippines. And this, it must be emphasized, remains despite various forms of neoliberal attacks inflicted on its organized force and successive counter-insurgency programs.

To cite only examples pertinent to Chanco’s topic, the Philippine Left has been assiduously courted by all political groups running in the 2016 elections, whether in the form of statements favoring peace talks with the CPP or in actual initiatives for meetings. Duterte himself made various pro-worker, pro-farmer and pro-people statements in an effort to court the Left’s support.

Chanco does not see the entire picture when he says that the electoral “discussion” in the Philippines “has shifted so far to the right.” Opinion poll after opinion poll has shown that the electorate’s main concerns in the upcoming elections are a combination of higher wages, lower prices, more jobs, and less corruption – issues that directly mirror campaigns of the Left, and not the Right. And presidentiables are taking notice; as of this writing, for example, three out five of them have vowed to fight contractualization if they become president.

Ann Veronica Janssens Marketing Images

Even if we use Chanco’s standard of a movement’s weaknesses and defeats, therefore, there is no basis to his startling conclusion that the CPP “is a barrier to a new socialist politics in the Philippines.” Rather, it continues to be the only beacon of socialist politics in the Philippines.

His tone then shifts to a starry-eyed, wonderfully lofty ambition for “a new vision for the Philippine left” that includes “a new set of narratives for a democratic, pluralist alternative, in the best tradition of internationalism, principled political engagement, and solidarity.”

The recommendation sounds palatable, but what is Chanco really talking about, in concrete terms? Is he talking about the significant revolutions in history – the Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese and even the Cuban? Or is he merely mouthing vague generalizations with no clear historical referents? The phrases that Chanco uses have often been deployed precisely to attack the said revolutions waged in the name of Marx, Lenin and even Mao.

The history of these revolutions have also been histories of successes and defeats, advances and retreats, and twists and turns. But also, and very importantly, of continued adherence to, and not abandonment of, the ideas and ideals of the great Communist revolutionaries.

After making the statement that the CPP is a barrier to socialist politics in the Philippines, Chanco backtracks by saying that the “way forward” could only rest on “the CPP and its supporters” themselves. He calls for a “critical assessment” of the alleged “impasse” of the Philippine Left. In his Facebook posts explaining the essay, he claims that he only wants a “debate” on the topic.

Is publishing an attack piece in Jacobinmag.com the best way to seek such a debate or to call for a critical assessment? In an online publication that has published a similar attack piece months ago and, despite its claim to openness and democracy, refused to publish a critical rejoinder? Whatever Chanco’s intention, the objective effect is the same: contributing to the Philippine Left’s continuing demonization by a small band of intellectuals who fancy themselves to be progressive but in reality advance the interests of US imperialism and the ruling classes in the Philippines.

When Sison saw that the old CPP of 1930 has become “a barrier to a new socialist politics” in the Philippines, he didn’t write a critique of the old party in an international publication only to ask the same party to make an assessment and rectify its errors. He bolted out of the old party and built a new party in 1968 – with a people’s army and a united front alliance of progressive organizations to boot. Sison was criticizing the old party because he knew what needed to be done and had the courage to do it; Chanco has only misplaced criticisms and lacks the commitment to progressive politics and the courage to build a “new socialist politics” in the country, whatever Chanco means by that.

Where is Chanco coming from? Definitely not from Marxism. His approach is far from materialist in violating facts and the truth; he cannot speak truth from facts. His approach is undialectical in failing to identify and demonstrate relations as they develop in the historical process. And in confusing the Left with its enemies, he does not hold fast to class analysis, let alone to a class standpoint in viewing reality.

His essay abounds with academic left jargon: he says the Philippines has “an onerous liberal democratic system” which has a “rentier state” and is ruled by “bureaucrat-capitalism”; he does not problematize the overlaps and clashes in these concepts. He echoes Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek’s plays with “capitalism with Chinese characteristics” in describing the alleged vision of Duterte for the Philippines. He situates his essay within progressive writings on the rise of Donald Trump and fascist parties.

Chanco is too enamored with faddish theories and topics of pseudo-progressive intellectuals abroad to the detriment of dialectics and materialism. The result: he fails to clearly understand and analyze his topics – Duterte, the Philippine Left, and, ultimately, Philippine politics.

28 February 2016

Galing ang mga larawan dito. Napakaganda ng buong editoryal na ito ni Teddy Locsin. Dapat magawan ng bersyong Pilipino, ng bidyong puno ng ahitasyon, at ipanood sa sambayanang Pilipino. Magaganda rin ang isa, dalawa, at tatlong sulatin ni Carol P. Araullo tungkol sa ika-30 anibersaryo ng Edsa People Power.

The War Rages On

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As a Filipino activist committed to radical social change, I like JacobinMag.com, the magazine that introduces itself as one “of culture and polemic.” Well, despite the lapse in judgment that spurred this missive (which we’ll get to shortly), I still do. I like the fact that its articles are short, direct-to-the-point, and relatively free of jargon. Its articles on the struggle of the workers and people of Greece against austerity, for example, are enlightening.

Jacobin’s publication of “The War Is Over” by one Alex de Jong, however, is a low point for the website. Despite its attempt to feign even-handedness, de Jong’s article clearly demonizes the underground Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the open national-democratic umbrella organization Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan, which means “nation” in Filipino) before an international audience.

While admitting that the CPP and Bayan constitute “the strongest current on the Philippine Left,” the article downplays the vast difference in strength between these Reaffirmist groups on the one hand and so-called Rejectionist groups on the other. In fact, it tries to project parity of strength between the two camps. It also accuses the CPP and Bayan of “intellectual stagnancy” and “violence,” implying that other groups of the Philippine Left are intellectually vibrant and, well, peaceful.

De Jong defines the thrust of his article as that of tracking down the reasons why the CPP and Bayan remain the strongest formations on the Philippine Left. This way, he can zero in on the two groups’ negative points, broadly conceived, while ignoring the more glaring faults and weaknesses of other Left formations. He ends with the vague and unsubstantiated metaphoric conclusion that the Philippine Communist movement is being “worn down by the passage of history,” and thus, doomed.

What does de Jong fail to say in his article?

First, that despite the nuances and qualifications that he highlights in their history, the CPP and Bayan have consistently been the strongest Left formations in the Philippines since they were founded, with CPP leading in the armed struggle and Bayan in urban protests and parliamentary struggle. This, despite facing severe and non-stop political repression from the Philippine State, committing major ultra-left and rightist errors in the 1980s, being targeted by the ringleaders of the major errors of the 1980s with wrecking operations in the 1990s, and grappling with neoliberal policies and counter-insurgency campaigns that take them as targets. In the last two regimes alone, around a thousand of its legal activists have been killed or forcibly disappeared, and hundreds more unlawfully detained.

In the cities, the groups contributed significantly to urban protests that culminated in the ouster of Philippine presidents Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and Joseph Estrada in 2001. They have been sworn enemies of successive regimes subservient to US imperialism and representing the local ruling classes. Whenever there are large protests in the Philippines, it’s the flags of Bayan and its member organizations that are flying high.

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In the countryside, militarization and other forms of political repression intensify, but the New People’s Army, led by the CPP, continues to fight and gain strength in many areas of the country. It has been actively implementing land reform, building the organized strength of peasants, and waging armed struggle. It has been in the news, backing farmers in fighting landgrabbing by big landlords and international mining companies. Only this year, despite the grave threat of military retribution, the funeral march of fallen Communist commander Leoncio “Ka Parago” Pitao saw thousands of supporters marching on the streets of Davao City, a grand display of love, mourning, and strength unprecedented in recent memory.

Collectively, the struggles and victories of the Filipino masses and people together with the CPP and Bayan are touchstones in Philippine history, concrete manifestations of a nation pushing forward.

The July 27 State of the Nation Address that de Jong talks about? He seems to have confined his view to Quezon City, where the Bayan protest numbered almost 30,000 while the other Left forces could muster no more than a few hundreds. De Jong fails to observe that Bayan simultaneously held big rallies in key towns and cities all over the Philippine archipelago. Meanwhile his description of the rally of a few hundreds as “broad” could only be laughable. In order to to come up with “presentable” photos of their Quezon City rally, its organizers  took shots that were so tight, they might as well have taken selfies. And yet de Jong has the gall to try to paint the flawed picture where Reaffirmists “are equal in number to all the [Rejectionist] groups put together.”

Second, de Jong cites groups “from the Maoist [Marxist-Leninist Party of the Philippines] to the social-democratic Akbayan party and the Revolutionary Party of Mindanao” as if they are notable. These groups, however, are in reality scattered, distant from the Filipino masses and people – and, to be frank about it, negligible in Philippine politics. Apart from Akbayan which participates in elections, the names of these groups catapulted to newfound prominence by de Jong have never been heard of before in the Philippine scene; they are introduced to Filipino readers of his article for the first time.

The self-appointed spokespersons of these alleged groups have constantly presented them as emergent formations in the Philippine Left: fresh, exciting, on the way forward. But more than 20 years after they have broken ranks with the CPP and Bayan, what organizational or intellectual strength can these groups show? Not much. They have by and large remained leaders and writers without any significant mass membership. This, despite receiving ample financial and material support from various factions of the Philippine ruling classes, international funding agencies, and international solidarity networks.

Leaders and writers of groups like Akbayan have focused their intellectual energies on analyzing-attacking the CPP and Bayan, yet have shunned making honest-to-goodness Marxist assessments and summations of their own organizations’ histories. They have always tried to answer the question “Why do the CPP and Bayan remain strong?” but have refused to recognize, let alone answer, the question “Why do other Left formations remain very, very weak?” Their glaring lack of experience, skill and sharpness in assessing and summing-up their own history is clearly reflected in the haphazard manner with which they approach the histories of the CPP and Bayan.

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They claim that their movements are intellectually vibrant, but that is never in the sense of enriching the unity of thought and action or the praxis of arousing, organizing and mobilizing the Filipino masses and the people for genuine social change. No wonder they proudly claim that they are “peaceful,” and that the imperialists and the Philippine ruling classes are only happy to agree.

Of course, mere numbers are not an absolute proof of a movement’s correctness. But the long and continuous existence of these organizations – more than 45 years for CPP and 35 for Bayan – and the victories that they have gained despite the various hurdles that they faced, show that they are the only Left formations which have successfully advanced – and continue to forward decisively – the Filipino masses’ and people’s struggle for genuine social change. On the other hand, the lackluster performance of Akbayan, and other Left formations in the Philippines, despite the various odds favoring them, shows that most of what they do is talk, criticize the CPP and Bayan, and ally with various factions of the Philippines’ ruling classes.

The experience of Akbayan, the most “successful” of the lot, is most instructive. Despite continuing to talk about its so-called “reform agenda,” the group has of late thoroughly exposed itself as a stooge and apologist of the neoliberal and fascist regime of Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino III. Even Walden Bello, the group’s erstwhile representative in Congress and a left-lite anti-globalization activist, was forced to distance himself from the group for condoning the crimes of the corrupt and anti-people Aquino. Government reports released just this month show that the group’s top officials occupying positions in government have been given huge salaries and other perks.

Which brings us to the fundamental issue: What kind of “Left” politics are these groups trying to advance? Do they sharply analyze the socio-economic system prevailing in the Philippines and struggle for the correct radical solution? National-democratic activists have every reason to believe that the source of these groups’ weakness lies in their incorrect political line, whether consciously formulated or not. And that these groups’ incorrect political line stems ultimately from their incorrect ideological line.

I won’t go into detail addressing de Jong’s criticisms of the CPP and Bayan. The groups have their own websites (www.philippinerevolution.net and www.bayan.ph) and have done a better job of defending themselves against such weakly-founded accusations.

One thing is clear: de Jong’s article is aimed at the international progressive audience. It is not the first time the Rejectionist bloc has exploited a respectable international publication into being a platform for vilifying CPP and Bayan. And by publishing his article, Jacobin has fallen into the same mistake already committed by other publications: lending its hard-earned global prestige among progressives to commentators on the Philippines who are associated with groups that are hyperactive on the internet but dormant in the grassroots, or who mistake activity in social media as sufficient participation in social struggles, and who attack movements that are in reality doing a fine job at strengthening the struggles of the masses and people of the Philippines. And that, I believe, is a disservice to the latter.

Communists and national democrats are often maligned as orthodox and close-minded while New Left groups or new groups of the Left like to project themselves as open-minded and free from dogma. But any intelligent or discerning Left group should be able to recognize who’s truly exemplary in wielding Marxism and progressive theory in general to strengthen mass struggles and movements in various countries. Let there be no doubt about it: in the Philippines, it’s the Communists and national democrats.

“The War Is Over,” proclaims de Jong via Jacobin. “The CPP and Bayan are in decline,” he claims. That is definitely not true, but that is music to the ears of imperialists and the ruling classes of the Philippines.

13 August 2015

Galing ang mga larawan dito.

May ganitong pagpapakilala sa unang lathala: “The author is a national-democratic activist in the Philippines. He has been writing about Philippine politics and the Left since 2005. This is one of the few times that he was forced to write in English.”

Hating the Left

Palparan Max Santiago Tudlaan Antipas Delotavo

“Pareho lang kayo.” Iyan, sa ordinaryong pananalita ng karaniwang tao, ang mensahe ni Patricio N. Abinales, nagsulat ng napakaraming artikulong kontra-Kaliwa na nagpapakilalang intelektwal, sa kanyang artikulong “Hating Palparan.” Ginamit niya ang pa-intelektwal at pa-sikolohikal na praseng “mirror image” para sabihing pareho lang ang kilusang Komunista o Kaliwa at si dating Major General Jovito Palparan: parehong may “panatisismong ideolohikal at pagmamahal sa baril,” sa mga salita niya.

Kakatwa ang paggamit ni Abinales ng sikolohiyang pop. Pseudo-teoretikal ang kanyang pagtatapos, para bang gumagaya sa mga intelektwal na kapwa niya gradweyt sa Cornell University pero hindi matularan: “At halos lagi, ang pagnanasa (desire) na wasakin ang nagpapaalala sa iyo ng sarili mo ang nagiging priyoridad.” Naks! Hindi natin alam kung kaya niyang humalaw sa mga sulatin nina Sigmund Freud o Jacques Lacan para sa deklarasyong iyan. O batay lang ba iyan sa danas niya sa kanyang magulang at kaanak?

Anu’t anuman, sa artikulong ito, nagboluntaryo si Abinales na maging tagapagsalita ni Palparan kontra sa Kaliwa. Wala siyang mabuting masabi tungkol sa Kaliwa pero nagpaulan siya ng papuri kay Palparan. Inuulit niya sa pamamagitan ng pagpapalagay ang linya ni Palparan: na lahat ng biniktima ng berdugo ay mga Komunista o mga tagasuporta nila. Ni hindi mabanggit ni Abinales ang praseng “human rights violations,” dahil tila pawang lehitimong target para sa kanya ang mga biniktima ng berdugo.

At naroon ang dahilan kung bakit galit ang Kaliwa kay Palparan, na pangunahing historikal at hindi sikolohikal. Napakarami niyang ginawang paglabag sa karapatang pantao – na hindi dapat sa mga aktibista at kahit sa mga miyembro ng New People’s Army. At para saan? Para ipagtanggol ang rehimen ni Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at ang sistemang pinaghaharian ng iilang mayaman at makapangyarihan. Sa pagtinging ito, masyado nang banat at abstrakto na sabihing magkapareho ang Kaliwa at si Palparan.

Pero lumang tema na ang umano’y pagiging magkapareho ng Kaliwa at Kanan. Sa Kanluran, maraming kilusang intelektwal at may iilang kilusang panlipunan na umusbong sa posisyong kontra sa “pasismo ng kapwa Kaliwa at Kanan.” Makikita sa hanay na ito ang mga nagpapakilalang liberal pero sumulpot din dito ang marami sa mga neo-konserbatibo. Mula sa hanay ng huli, marami ang nagtanggol sa mga gerang agresyon ng US laban sa mga bansang umano’y nagkakanlong ng mga terorista.

Dahil sa galit ni Abinales sa Kaliwa, ginamit niya ang temang ito sa isyu ni Palparan, at lalo tuloy nakita ang labis na pokus sa dahas. Dahil sa Pilipinas, napakalayo ng Kaliwa sa Kanan, at ang huli lang ang kilalang may “panatisismong ideolohikal at pagmamahal sa baril.” Sa Pilipinas, ang Kaliwa ay kalahok sa paglaban sa dayuhang mananakop, gulugod ng paglaban sa Batas Militar ni Marcos, at nangunguna sa paglaban sa mga pangulong kontra-maralita. Kapag lumalaban ang masa, ang kasama nila ay ang Kaliwa.

Eh ang Kanan? Maganda lang sa kahibangan ni Abinales, tagapagsalita ni Palparan.

20 Agosto 2014

Galing ang larawan dito.