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AN URGENT NEED FOR REFLECTION: THE ONRUSHING GLOOM IN THE PHILIPPINES
(An Open Letter to Mon Ramirez and the Powerful People in the Philippines and the World)

By CESAR TORRES
April 11, 2005

Dear Mon:

It has been a long time since I have read expressions such as "internal contradictions", etc. which you mentioned in one of your emails. I was familiar with concepts like this when I was with Polly Sigh. But not anymore.

There was something I remember also, Che Guevarra's admonition, i.e., "A guerilla should be like a fish in the water." So I would not be surprised if there are NDF cadres in Dasmarinas Village or Forbes Park. Commitment to our people can transcend social and economic origins. We once visited the compound of the Sisons in the Ilocos. His family origin is not exactly similar to those surviving on garbage like those Filipinos in Payatas.

One does not need to be a Ph.D. in "revolutionary movements" to know that the inability of a political and government system to provide the basic needs of the people -- I don't need to detail them here -- is the compelling reason why people rebel. In the context of the Philippines, we know that the problems are massive. My relatives are constantly crying to me for help. And we know that the NPA and the RHB guerillas are not lugging those corroded arms in the hinterlands because they like doing that.

The world is in crisis. It is not only the Filipinos who are suffering. Even the Americans, and possibly, the Japanese, the Europeans and other countries belonging to the "First World". The tragedy of 9-11 has resulted in this world crisis. You are giving too much power to Gloria if you tell me that the misery of my relatives and my fellow Filipinos are just the result of Gloria and her group's incompetence and mishandling of the Philippine problems.

I can grant that more and more people will be marching in the streets, their left fists raised and shouting all those slogans that have been popular when the Beloved Warrior was contemplating the loveliness of the various UP co-eds at the back of the UP Main Library and wondering why there were a lot of squatters in Tondo, who were mostly from Samar. There were no Smokey Mountains yet, and no garbage-subsisting Filipinos in Payatas.

All those red flags can be unfurled. And the anger of our people will be dramatized on TV, and published in the periodicals. The natural course of events will eventually result in more and more people being bloodied. More and more people probably joining the revolutionary groups for the sake of survival because they cannot run to the police, and the military, and the court system for justice and protection. More and more clashes will happen in the mountains of Samar and other parts of the Philippines. More will die.

Who knows, that "strategic offensive" might indeed happen. One does not need to read MTT or the Beloved Warrior's  "Philippine Society and Revolution" to know that this has always been the natural course of events since the dawn of mankind.

Anyway, considering the dream society that we are longing for and which the NDF has been longing for and which the CPP says will eventually be attained because it is "inevitable",  frankly I am afraid that it could just result in the "Killing Fields" and the "Mountains of Skulls" similar to what happened in Cambodia, in Rwanda, in Somalia, and perhaps in Colombia.

The Vietnamese liberation forces and in the neighboring countries triumphed. My pedestrian thinking tells me that the conditions where ripe. Remember Lenin's "confluence of events" explaining why the Russian Revolution triumphed in the 1920's?

Remember how the USSR and Eastern Europe and the People's Republic of China joined forces to fight US intervention in Vietnam?

Remember how millions of Americans and millions more all over the world organized to stop that miserable war in Indochina?

Today, we cannot even point out to a "successful socialist society" that will inspire the cannon fodders of the revolution, our poor Filipino masses, who will be the first ones to die if the hoped-for civil war is going to intensify.

Are we going to tell them about the collapse of the USSR and the other socialist societies in Europe? How about the debacle of the FSLN in Nicaragua? Are we going to tell them about the hunger in socialist North Korea and the aberration of their leader?  Perhaps we can talk about Cuba, or even the PRC with its weird economic system or Vietnam whose economy is being dominated by American and European multinationals.

And you will not forget that in the Index of Corruption, it seems there is more corruption in Vietnam and PRC than in Singapore and other non socialist societies in Asia.

And then if the Philippine military, egged on and supported by the warmongers in America, will intensify their experiments on the effectiveness of their weapons, will the American public, its religious groups like those who elected GWB to a second term, in sympathy and solidarity with the 3 million or so Filipinos in America demand that the killings of the peasants in the Philippines stop?

The Filipinos in America are a mystery to me. Many of them will curse Filipinos who will say anything unflattering about American foreign and economy policy in the Philippines. They don't want to rock the boat. They don't want to call attention to themselves, especially the "successful" ones.

Will the Europeans who are not at all mesmerized by American foreign and economic policies demand that the EU tell the Philippine military to stop its killings of the Filipinos?

Will the 1.2 billion Chinese and their ruling group intervene to stop the killings of the Filipinos?

How about the Catholic Church? After all the CBCP is being targeted as an "enemy" of the friends of Gen. Carlos Garcia. Will the new Pontiff excommunicate the Catholic Generals who are directing the poor Filipino soldiers to seek out and kill their fellow poor Filipinos? The generals will just laugh or imprison the priests.

Will the NDF be supported by the fanatics in Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah in exchange for detaching Mindanao and Sulu from Luzviminda? Are they really serious about this?

Mon, the world is in crisis. And it is intensifying in the Philippines.

My plea, and many of my colleagues in Samar share my prayer, is for the armed groups to stop their obsession to kill, especially if they are not the ones being hunted or directly doing the killing, like those poor soldiers and the NPA guerillas in the mountains of Samar and other places of the Philippines.

Our resources can be used to feed our people, educate them so that they are skilled, and are nationalists, so that they get cured when they are sick, so that they can have a better future.

Take this example for instance. In the interior of Samar, in the town of San Jose de Buan, the children had no toilet. No books, no laboratory equipment. There is supposed to be a complete elementary school and a high school in that town. Their elected municipal leaders are not even staying in the town. They are getting their salaries as officials, but what are they doing?

The irony is that there is probably a military garrison there with soldiers and guns. True, they have been conducting adult literacy classes in Samar. But how much is one armalite for instance? And since San Jose de Buan is in the interior of Samar, and the area is ideal for guerilla warfare, perhaps the NDF partisans and their enemies the RHB armed group are maintaining some presence there. They would have guns too. How much is one armalite whether in the hand of a Government soldier or an NPA or RHB figther?

Two armalites would be enough to construct a comfort room, buy books, and laboratory equipment for the children in San Jose de Buan.

And if the powerful people in the Philippines had their priorities in order, the NPAs and the Government soldiers can plant trees in the denuded mountains of Samar and the Philippines. Instead of playing hide and seek ambushing each other. They can work together to repair the miserable public roads in the Philippines. Look what my townmates in Villareal, Samar are doing.

Or they can join Gawad Kalinga in building houses for our people who are residing under the bridges or have squatted in cemeteries and catacombs. Or they can maintain the fish sanctuaries all over the Philippines.

I think the leadership of the NDF should pause and re-evaluate its position with respect to attaining a more progressive and respectable Philippines. Perhaps, we can learn from the Tupamaros in Uruguay. They are no longer pursuing their cherished principles and ideals while shooting government soldiers. Satur Ocampo, Walden Bello, Akbayan, the CBCP, etc. can provide the balance to the corrupt and the incompetent power holders in Philippine society. As a friend in embattled Mindanao said: "Sana naman hindi na lang puna ng puna. Dapat mayroon ipakita na viable alternative."

Mon, I think many of us are very, very proud Filipinos. Many of us are willing to die for Pilipinas. But I don't think they are ready to die for Fernando Poe and Susan Roces or for poor Erap and his mistresses or for the No. 1 UP alumnus so that he can maintain his place in Transparency International and ensure that his love child in Australia will be a multimillionaire for life or for the super rich Atenista or for the fanatics of Al Qaeda.

Many have second thoughts that only through a "protracted war" can we offer a better life for our people. The sacrifices are just mind-boggling. And it may take generations for us to recover, if we will be able to recover at all.

And what's more, we will be lying to ourselves and to the Filipino people.

I remember a sad story being told to me of an idealist who went to the mountains but is now back in the "lowlands". To inspire the peasants, he would tell them: "Kasama, nasa Malakanyang na tayo sa dalawang taon." And the poor peasant believed him. That was more than 20 years ago. And the poor peasant and his family? They were wiped out.

"Pragmatic Nationalism" and a "Government of National Reconciliation", Mon. Let us think about this.

Let the powers that be request Dr. Jose Abueva and think tank groups -- such as the Development Academy of the Philippines, that National Defense College, Ibon, the PCIJ, CBCP, the Institute of Islamic Studies -- to present a workable concept paper to Malacanang, to the Congress, to the White House (in case they are thinking of unloading more of their unused weapons to the Philippine military as "foreign aid"), to the NDF, to Akbayan, to the MILF and to the Catholic Church. Let us see what happens. But get the assent of the leaders of these organizations. And let the killings stop.

This can become a foundation for a "Government of National Reconciliation". And we can move on.

Otherwise, the alternatives are terrifying. As someone in Talsik@yahoogroups.com keeps on saying:  "War! War! War! War!"

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