Saturday, June 25, 2011

An open society's pitfalls

FROM A DISTANCE By Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) Updated June 26, 2011 12:00 AM

Recently I had a long conversation with a friend who was worried that leftist groups were encircling the bureaucracy and it went all the way up to the President’s office. He is worried that if this situation continues in the battle for people’s minds, democratic space may be getting narrower and narrower.

I would not worry if to be ‘leftist’ means to promote a broad range of pro-people issues that are not being properly addressed in our oligarchic society. If they were to stick to fighting for pro-people issues we should welcome and support them if that was the aim. After all, the original intent of the political decision to legitimizing former Communist sympathizers was precisely to bring them into the political arena as it is in other democratic countries, particularly in Europe. The Communist Party is considered as a legal political party. Unfortunately democracy in the Philippines is especially prone to its pitfalls.

Former Communists have banded together as party list members in Congress without shedding their objective of taking over government. The Communist Party of the Philippines is sworn to armed revolution. In effect then, some party list members would be working for the Communist Party while projecting themselves as reformists. The problem is that as members of Congress they now have access to funds through their pork barrel that are said to end up for the cause of armed revolution. Moreover they have used their political clout in Congress to reject reforms within a democratic framework. That means that in the political rivalry with centrist or right wing groups, they have an advantage. They form broad coalitions at the same time that they keep their connection with the armed Communist Party/NPA.

For example, Bayan Muna’s party list members voted against constitutional reforms, a centrist advocacy during the committee hearings in the 14th Congress. It shows how easily one can get lost in the tangle of political issues that are often seen as merely a contest between the government and opposition.
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Collusion between party list legislators and the Communist Party/NPA has to be watched carefully. It would be wrong to ignore signs that point to the unfolding strategy for a communist take-over.  

There are stories of how various government agencies have been infiltrated. But perhaps the most risky is how they have successfully entered the inner sanctum of a president that can be made subservient to their aims. He adds that part of the confusion comes from conspiracy with rightist groups. It may be true that there are corrupt military but it is another matter if a strategy is pushed towards discrediting the AFP and demoralizing the ranks. While it is true that our justice system is in dire need for reforms, it is another thing to destroy the credibility of the justice system. There have also been instances when different branches of government are pit against each other.
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The postponement of ARMM elections is a good example of how the strategy is working. The postponement was allegedly advised by former Akbayan party president Ronald Llamas. He sits in Malacanang as the President’s political adviser.

We could argue about the rightness or wrongness of postponing the elections. But we need to know what the motive was for the postponement coming as it does from Llamas? Is this part of a wider scheme? 

Political watchers suggest that he could have his own political agenda. The postponement would give him a free hand to choose OICs that could eventually become a strong political base. Speaking of the freedom of information act how are we to get at this kind of information that is as important as corruption? The motive of groups or persons allied with underground political movements like the CPP-NDF-NPA is something we need to know to enable us to make correct political judgments.
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My worried friend said he does not believe Bayan Muna’s denials that it is a legal front for the Communist Party/NPA. There was documentary proof found during a military raid on an NPA lair in Quezon that the communist rebels have formed a new above the ground political party and they raised P1 billion for national and local candidates in the May 2010 elections.

The expenditures listed in one document included P14 million for machinery buildup, P385 million for the election campaign, P50 million each for its senatorial candidates, P1 million for alliances and linkages with other political parties, and P600 million for a nationwide poll watch during the actual conduct of last year’s elections.

But if oligarchs raise political funds for their candidates why shouldn’t they do the same? That is the problem. They are simply mimicking the abuses of rightwing military and civic society. The sources of funds of the Left are said to come from monthly revolutionary tax collection by the NPA and extortion activities from mining, transportation and communication companies. The electorate has the right to know what they are voting for.

More troubling are documents that the Central Committee of the CPP-NPA-NDF were expecting funds from politicians whom they would support in the elections among them a lady politician who at that time was vying to be a presidential candidate.

Filipinos are concerned that whatever the political color of candidates they must know who and why they are voting for. This is harder to detect when the strategy is to subvert democratic institutions. There is nothing wrong if they want to dialogue with mainstream politicians but we need to know if these are for genuine reforms and not in pursuit of a communist take-over of democratic institutions through stealth and chicanery.

The key is information, the same kind of information that they demand from corrupt above ground politicians. We have to know the connections between the certain party list groups and the CPP-NPA-NDF. At the moment we do not know. We can only guess at their machinations at the same time that they block reforms coming from ordinary concerned citizens.

From the same stack of documents it also said that they would increase party membership to at least 250,000 in the next five years and accumulate 25,000 rifles in order to reach the stage of a strategic stalemate.

Anxious watchers of negotiations between the CPP and the Philippine government are not confident that the peace talks are serious. If the CPP remains committed to overthrowing the Philippine state, then a political settlement is impossible.
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