MANILA -- Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and other ranking military officials on Tuesday debunked Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chair Jose Maria "Joma" Sison's claims that the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and other progressive organizations are not part of the revolutionary movement.
"These organizations are fronts of the CPP-NDF (National Democratic Front) with the same objective of pushing the CPP’s armed struggle leading to a communist government. He claims they are not NPA's (New People's Army) because the NPA has acquired notoriety for their terroristic activities but at the same time they are allies? Eh di pareho lang yun (Then that's the same), they belong to the same group," he said when asked to comment on the CPP founder's claims.
Sison earlier denied that he branded the ACT as a communist front, adding that he never identified any legal organization as "front" of the CPP.
The NPA, the CPP's armed wing, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and European Union.
"In fact, the CPP-NPA-NDF is one organization. Hinati-hati kunyari para magkaroon sila ng tinatawag na legal front (They were supposedly divided so they can have legal front). But that is an oxymoronic term. I have stated in one congressional hearing that fronts that push the agenda of an illegal organization such as the NPA cannot be called a legal front. In fact, it is an illegal organization," Lorenzana said.
"Sison is trying to wiggle out of his statement long ago that these organizations are their partners and allies. Sorry, Mr. Sison, but it was you who identified them for what they are," he added.
The defense chief's views were shared by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) deputy chief-of-staff for civil-military operations, Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., who said Sison's comments are part of his "senile moments".
"'Joma,' in his senile moments, has forgotten again what he has been declaring for a long time. In his own words he has repeatedly mentioned ACT as one of the CPP's front organizations, together with Gabriela, Bayan, Anakpawis, LFS (League of Filipino Students) and KMU (Kilusang Mayo Uno)," he said in a message.
"All of these front organizations have indeed, after 50 years of dual revolutionary tactics and deceit, been duped," he added.
Parlade also admitted that some members of rebel front organizations have been hoodwinked into joining when their only intentions are aimed at getting reforms which include getting better benefits at work, and a socially-just environment.
"After mulcting them membership dues, Joma would then red-tag them as his echelon of alliances. Poor teachers are now associated with the Communist Party Group "Kaguma", within the front organization ACT. Now the non-violent self-respecting teachers are unfairly lumped with Joma's red minions. That's how we all have been deliberately dragged by Joma into this divisive mess. That’s also true with Anakbayan and LFS, where the CPP’s party group Kabataang Makabayan (KM) hides," he said.
"Yes, they literally hide, because during rallies, these innocent youth are unfairly exposed to the civil disturbance units of PNP, while the party members are at the back. Ask Joma that and we know he will deny it. This is just one of the reasons why Joma cannot see himself coming back. He is wanted by many people he has victimized. Many of them are now beneficiaries of E-CLIP after availing of the localized peace engagement," he added.
ACT has been in question for protecting a supposed educational institution, the "Salugpungan", which reportedly brainwashes indigenous people’s children into becoming rebels.
The school is operating on the ancestral domain of tribal leaders but even with tribes’ disagreement for them to operate on their lands, "Salugpungan" schools that are manned by NPA rebels have abused their stay and intimidated harmless tribe groups.
In a hearing at the House of Representatives last January 28, Datu Joel Dahusay of Talaingod, Davao Del Norte said he is willing to risk his life because he is the only one in their community of about 1,000 individuals who has education, something that led him to know and learn of Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997.
The IPRA recognizes and promotes the rights of ICCs/IPs of the Philippines.
“Sinabi ko sa NPA, may karapatan kami, dala ko yung libro ng IPRA. Ang sabi nila huwag mong gamitin ang IPRA kasi maraming gusot yan. Kahit maraming gusot, at least alam ko na ito pala ang karapatan naming mga tribu (I told the NPA, we have rights and I carry with me the book on IPRA. They told me not to use the IPRA because it has many defects. Even if there are many defects, at least I know now of the rights of the indigenous) tribes,” Dahusay said in the hearing.
“Bakit tayo aalis na taga-rito. Dito tayo. Yung mga tribu natin ginagamit para sa kanilang pwersa para mapalakas ang kanilang mga gawain, mga interest nila (Why would we leave? We will stay here. Our tribes are just being used to strengthen their forces and boost their activities and their interests),” Dahusay added.
Meanwhile, AFP public affairs office chief, Col. Noel Detoyato, in an interview with the Philippine News Agency, said Sison is contradicting himself when he said that ACT and other militant organizations are not part of the communist movement.
"He is just contradicting himself. Signs of a desperate old man trying to fulfill his obsession of overthrowing the government through a revolutionary dual tactic of using front organizations and armed struggle. However, he denies it, the facts are looking at him straight in the eye. We can compare his narrative to the story of 'the boy who cried wolf'," he said.
"Nobody believes him anymore, except maybe those who are hoping to replace him when he succumbs due to old age or frustration. His 30 plus years of absence already detached him from reality," he added. (with reports from Christine Cudis/PNA)
Photo from Inquirer