by jun asuncion
We all in the first place convey our deepest condolences to the bereaved families of the policemen slain in this encounter…..
May the souls of these lost fighters be now in communion with their Creator who shall give them life everlasting and a sanctuary of eternal peace and love, – qualities that this world has failed to give them…
Life is a fight and Bulaneños have been fighting for survival and freedom for roughly 500 years now since the first recorded Moro attacks on Bulan and since the beginning of the colonization, during the war and until yesterday in Calomagon when this ambuscade occurred.
Too much blood has been shed on Bulan soils already. My generation had seen that from 1972 onwards…gloomy years for us young Bulaneños.
I once wrote that I´ve seen the last day of Nanette, Tony, Anihay and their comrades in Bulan. Anihay suffered agonizing pains for he was caught alive yet deeply wounded, was driven around the town on a military vehicle for people to see- and probably to intimidate future rebel recruits.
Within that repressive Martial Law context, I have no doubt to call Nanette, Tony, Fenito and their brothers-in- arms as true Bulan Freedom Fighters.
For sure Marxist´s ideology was spreading at that time all over Asia and after the war, the former HUKBALAHAP (Hukbo Ng Bayan Laban Sa Hapon) under Commander Taruc went back to its original objective of liberating the rural peasants from the feudalistic structures. Taruc was not a die-hard communist-oriented leader, realized perhaps quite early that it had no future so he voluntarily surrendered to the government; his organization practically died out.
However, poverty in the rural areas continued and so was the need for land reform and social justice continued- and with it the fight continued, this time under new leadership; names like commander Dante and Joma Sison dominated. Until this day, NPA structure and strategy is very much patterned to the old HUKBALAHAP- a guerilla and a political organization.
In the late 1960`s Marcos was still performing well and may had in fact done the right decision in fighting the resurrected HUKS which became very powerful, and Marcos was to some extent successful.
Then there was these issues of aggressive American Imperialistic presence in the Philippines and the increasingly corrupt and repressive Marcos´regime that this time democracy itself was in peril. Marcos became more and more dictatorial and under the pretext of fighting subversion and insurgency, liquidated his political rivals, suppressed political opposition (great names like Salonga, Tanada, Kalaw— and lastly NinoyAquino) and increasingly becoming a US marionette driven by his need for the US protection and legitimization of his dictatorial regime. Martial law was declared, writ of habeas corpus lifted, regime critics and student political organizations were banned, curfew hours installed.
Marcos was an unparalled political opportunist: He used the insurgency problems as means to further his own egoistic political ends- thereby encouraging the further growth of insurgency by making the Filipinos more disillusioned with the state.
Now this is what I mean that our Bulan fighters were to be viewed against this background of Marcos´dictatorship- and not against the backdrop of pure commitment to the communistic ideology. Nanette Vytiaco did not come from a poor family and she was a political mind like the rest of our young student leaders at that time. Let us bear that in our minds.
Back to Calomagon, we are all aware that poverty, poor education, unemployment, disillusionment are still not solved; that the need for social justice is present as it was.
We are also aware that the ISSUE OF CORRUPTION is as actual as before- both in the national and local levels. We are also aware that Bulan is unfortunately not spared from this virulent virus that has plagued the entire country.
Taken as it is, we are back to the circumstances that had moved Taruc and his HUKBALAHAP to continue the fight after the war and re-orient themselves to the new ideology of communism.
But now some elements have also been removed from the backdrop: Marcos´dictatorship was overthrown, our Mt. Pinatubo expelled the American bases, communism in many parts of the world was discarded.
The Bottom Line:
-The NPA should recognize that their ideology- if it is communism- is not sustainable in the Philippines no matter how long they want to fight for it. The Filipino spirit will always reject it; that if they want social justice for Bulaneños, they should fight for progress in the political arena and give up their guerilla organization and activities.
– That the local government of Bulan should stay away from dubious activities that make them suspect of corruption. They should be more transparent and genuine advocates of townspeople´s needs and aspirations.
Though feudal-like structures (when we mean by it vast landownership of some families) are still present in Bulan and in the Philippines as a whole, I do not espouse land reform for it will disperse or weaken production. Instead farmers employed should enjoy internal stake/shareholders rights, their working conditions be improved.
Why all these?
-Armed strifes do not contribute whatsoever to the attainment of more humane objectives. Did Bulan move socio-economically an inch better after yesterday´s carnage? Did the NPA become stronger and gain more acceptance from the people they want to win over? Would the military now recoil from the next planned operation and surrender to them? We all know that the killing will continue, just as it had continued till yesterday since Marcos´time, that until now we Filipinos have only lost.
-Without fighting and fear, people will be more productive.
-Without corruption in the government, people will not feel being cheated, hence will be more productive and satisfied and less susceptible to leftist propagandas.
Social justice is not necessarily a high living standard at once, but in the first place a pleasant feeling among the people.
Any Bulaneño who feels good in Bulan will never trade his family for an obsolete ideology or a life of killing and hiding in the hills of Bulan.
And yet, the Fight For Progress is a long way- but is made easier without killings and corruption.
If you disagree with these, show me your reasons why…