Instrument of oppression

A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison () - December 17, 2007 - 12:00am

Punishing a person merely for his beliefs and ideas is something contrary to the very essence of democracy. Indeed mere membership in an organization espousing any political belief or ideology that may even be diametrically opposed to our democratic system is not reason enough to send a person to jail. Thus, “no person shall be detained solely by reason of his political beliefs and aspirations” (Section 18 [1] Article III Constitution). This is the raison de etre for the repeal of Republic Act 1700 otherwise known as the Anti Subversion Law. With the repeal of said law in 1992, mere membership in the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is no longer punishable.

The repeal of RA 1700 is a clear indication that our democracy is strong, alive and well. CPP members are now free to sell their ideology in a “free market of ideas” that exists and flourishes in every democratic society like ours. Under this set-up, they can engage in a parliamentary struggle to win the hearts and minds of the people by presenting the pros and cons of their causes in any public place or forum. Thus we have left leaning groups organizing legitimate mass rallies in the streets or participating in our elections as party list members of Congress. Even if CPP is not the official name tag of their parties, their red banners unmistakably show that they espouse the Communist Party platform and ideologies.

But the right to act in accordance with their belief and aspirations is subject to regulation and even prohibition for the protection of society. Hence the advancement and espousal of their cause and belief cannot be used to justify any act or refusal to act contrary to law, morals, public safety, public policy, health or general welfare of society. CPP’s armed components known as the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) who took up arms to overthrow our democratic government and replace it with their own form of government are thus still culpable for violation of our criminal laws particularly rebellion, sedition, and/ or illegal possession of firearms as well as the recently enacted Anti-Terrorism Act.

We have enough laws to fight this long running NPA insurgency and to put a stop to their “criminal acts. There is no need to revive the Anti-Subversion Law. It may only lead to the revival of the many abuses and oppressive acts committed especially during the martial law years when political dissenters and oppositionists were arrested, detained or eliminated by using the communist bogey and branding them as communists or supporters and sympathizers of communism. As of now there are already a number of extra judicial killings being attributed to the military. With an Anti-Subversion Law in place, many more of such killings may be carried out as in Martial Law years. Such was the sad and deplorable fate of Ninoy Aquino who was detained in solitary confinement and subsequently slain upon his return from exile.

The President herself said that the cause being advanced by the communists is an “ideological nonsense”, and this is correct. Indeed in many other parts of the world, people have realized the senselessness of this ideology and have since discarded it as their system of government starting with world power Russia itself. Thus even if the CPP members are allowed to openly continue with their parliamentary struggle, our countrymen would not be easily swayed to embrace their cause precisely because their doctrines and ideology bring more harm than good. Hence there is really no urgent need to outlaw membership in the CPP.

No less than the AFP Chief also said that we are winning the war against communist insurgency and that in two years the NPA will become “inconsequential” because of its “rapidly dwindling ranks”. He said that before the deadline set by the President, NPA strength will be cut down in half from 6,061 to about 3,000. If this assessment is correct and I assume it is, then there is no more need for an Anti-Subversion Law. Hence there must be some truth to the fear of many of our countrymen that this Law is being revived only to give the military a more effective instrument of oppression.

Admittedly, the NPA rebellion in the Philippines has been going on for 38 years and many administrations have come and gone but it has not yet been completely wiped out. In fact it was stronger and had more adherents when the Anti-Subversion Law was in full force and effect.

It has been pointed out before and I agree with it that the mains reasons behind the staying power of this rebellion despite its rapidly dwindling ranks are no other than poverty and injustice. By simply looking at the areas where the NPA remains strong or continues to thrive, one can readily see that they are places where the poorest of the poor among our countrymen live. These people somehow feel that because of the many injustices being committed all around, the poor like them become poorer while the rich become richer. They also see the double standards of justice prevailing in the land where the rich somehow always get the upper hand all things being equal. Of course, they could also see the ugly face of corruption behind their continuing poverty as only the political leaders in their areas become more and more affluent, the longer they stay in power.

As long as these problems of poverty, injustice and corruption have not been solved, it will be hard to put an end to this longest running insurgency at the countryside, with or without the Anti-Subversion Law.

E-mail us at jcson@pldtdsl.net

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