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The Walden Bello - CPP Controversy with Introduction by David Pugh

Below is the first part of the email circulated by Steve Ault to these lists about the "Bello-CPP controversy." In the interest of fairness and clarity, I've attached detailed letters by Walden Bello and Jose Maria Sison in which they state their positions. I've also included a contextual introduction. David Pugh

_______________________________________________

From: Herbert Docena

Dear Friends,

Recently, our executive director Walden Bello was named by the key organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines as a "counterrevolutionary" in a list that included both living and dead activists. After consultation with a number of people, we have reasons to believe that this represents a real threat to Walden's security.

Focus staff members have therefore decided to call the attention of global civil society to this development, not only out of concern for Walden, but also because we feel strongly that the CPP's drastic method of resolving differences must be publicly condemned by global civil society.

Please find below a signed statement to this effect that we are distributing through the listserves and networks, both in the North and the South, that Focus have been interacting and working with.

We hope to have your support for this action. Any comments would be appreciated.

Chanida Bamford

Deputy Director

(statement found in original message)

_______________________________________________

INTRODUCTION

If you are interested in learning more about the continuing controversy involving Walden Bello and Jose Maria Sison concerning an alleged "hit list" of political critics of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), below are detailed letters from both of them.

Please note that Bello is Executive Director of Focus on the Global South and is the Chairman Emeritus of the Akbayan (Citizens) Party in the Philippines. He is a former member of the CPP. Jose Maria Sison was the founding Chairman of the CPP, and is a political exile in the Netherlands.

One thing to be clear on is that Walden Bello and his allies in Akbayan are NOT on any kind of a CPP "hit list." This is not the first time that Bello and other leftist critics of the CPP have aired these charges. In point of fact, two prominent ex-CPP leaders, Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara, have been killed by units of the New People's Army in recent years. Both had started collaborating with the Philippine armed forces (AFP). Kintanar was employed by the AFP as a "security consultant," ie. military intelligence agent. This has been widely reported in the mainstream Philippine press.

The publications of the CPP make it clear that they answer political attacks on them politically, and deal with work for the enemy differently. To be called a "counter-revolutionary" or a "psuedo-revolutionary" by the CPP is not a threat; it means that your political positions will be criticized.

While Bello jets around the world claiming his life is being threatened, political assassinations ARE taking place in the Philippines. During the 2004 election campaign, over 40 workers for Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women's Party and other national democratic electoral parties were murdered by the AFP and paramilitaries. Bello has little or nothing to say here.

In spite of this murderous campaign, Bayan Muna and its allied parties won 6 seats in Congress, to Akbayan's three. Before the election, Akbayan Rep. Etta Rosales stated that she had a right to campaign in the guerrilla zones in the provinces, and that she intended to take along the AFP as her security escorts! Rosales claimed that her right to campaign and freedom of speech were being squashed. This is the direction that Akbayan and Walden Bello are headed in the Philippines.

Below is Bello's initial letter to Sison. Sison's reply follows.

Dave Pugh, NYC (Replies and questions are welcome)

_______________________________________________

An Open Letter to Jose Maria Sison on the 36th Anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)

Dear Mr. Sison:

Ang Bayan, the Communist Party of the Philippines' official publication published last December 7, 2004, an article and a diagram laying out the configuration of individuals and organizations within the broad progressive community in the country.

What is sad to note is that this mapping out comes with a most terrible attack hurled against these groups and individuals, generically dismissing them as Counter-revolutionaries, Trotskyites and Social Democrats. The party which you founded 36 years ago views them as ideological and political enemies - class enemies, as can be "gleaned from their international links".

Some personalities involved with some of these groups are already dead, like Popoy Lagman, Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara. Lagman, reportedly - and the latter two admittedly - in the hands of your armed wing, the New People's Army. Another person on the list, Ricardo Reyes, is already in your order of battle.

Outside of Ric Reyes who currently chairs AKBAYAN, we, Walden Bello, Chair Emeritus of AKBAYAN and Loretta Ann P. Rosales, first AKBAYAN representative, are also among the individuals listed. Does this mean you intend to kill us one by one?

What is both puzzling and a trifle annoying is the fact that, while we were all once national democrats, our movement was part of a much broader based anti-dictatorship united front that sought the end of one-man rule through the ouster of the late dictator, Mr. Marcos. Social democrats and Trotskyites marched side by side with national democrats, church groups and ordinary citizens who loved their country and wanted an end to dictatorship. In the international arena, our combined ranks actively led in strengthening the social movements against the ill effects of globalization on struggling economies of the Third World.

Today, AKBAYAN's representative chairs the Committee on Human Rights in the House of Representatives while AKBAYAN is providing leadership among social movements working for a more equitable and humane international social order. For this initiative, AKBAYAN's Chair Emeritus was awarded the Right Livelihood Award also known as the Alternative Noble Prize. Against which standards does the national democratic movement judge such efforts as counterrevolutionary?

We write you on the day you celebrate the 36th anniversary of the re-establishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines. We are quite certain you will once again stand pat on your claim that you are waging an armed and just war in defense of the Filipino people's national and democratic interests. From 1968 to the present, the use of armed struggle has been your over-arching solution in winning over the countryside to ultimately surround the cities and seize political power.

Considering that we are no longer part of your protracted war, does this make us class enemies and fair game as enemy targets? It bothers us that your 36-year old obsession over armed warfare asserts that all other forms of struggle are inherently inferior and a threat to the primacy of the over-arching goal of a violent upheaval. Even more deadly, it is justified to eliminate such a threat since your concept of revolutionary justice not only excuses but necessitates it.

Thus, those who dare to assert their independence from CPP hegemony are unduly demonized, such as AKBAYAN members, and partners in areas such as Bondoc Peninsula in Quezon where activists from people's organizations such as PEACE Foundation, Kilusang Magbubukid sa Bondoc Peninsula, and Task Force Bondoc Peninsula - all unarmed and aboveground formations - are now military targets.

Has this use of armed violence, resulting in the loss of thousands of lives translated - after 36 years - into economically and politically empowered communities under the CPP leadership? Or do we merely see a situation where a convergence of militarist mindset and behavior can be easily found among the armed units of the CPP and the paramilitary units of the AFP.

To illustrate, there have been instances of other civilians being liquidated by the NPA, such as Nong Boy Ocmen in Agusan del Norte, and another local leader in Nueva Ecija, which goes against the very statements made by the CPP that it does not cause harm to non-combatants as provided for in the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law it inked with the Philippine government. Does this imply that the CPP cannot be trusted to know what its left hand, with a gun is doing, while its right hand is signing a peace agreement?

The recruitment of child soldiers is a practice that is found among the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Units of the AFP (CAFGU) and the New People's Army (NPA). Both armed groups violate the UN Covenant on the Rights of the Child as reported by the UNICEF and other child-focused NGOs. Where the CPP makes an excuse that these children do not serve on the frontlines but merely serve as runners, etc. belies the fact that children do not belong in a war.

Similarly, draconian behavior from the New People's Army resulting in gross violations of human rights and the destruction of property has been reported by Amnesty International in2004, in much the same way human rights abuses are committed by the police and the military. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) itself has criticized the "permit to campaign" extortion activities of the NPA during elections. Rather than waste time throwing vile at us, the CPP should reflect on why such criticisms are coming its way from all sides.

The Philippine Left is a much, much bigger community than the CPP wants it to be. We want to impart upon Mr. Sison that if the party he founded is truly interested in upholding universal human rights, it has to reassess its role in the progressive movement - as an agent of discourse and peaceful co-existence, not as a fascist harbinger of violence, hatred and murder.

Walden Bello

Loretta Ann P. Rosales

AKBAYAN

_______________________________________________

COMPLAINTS SHOULD BE SUBMITTED TO THE NDFP-JMC AND NOT TO THE NDFP CHIEF POLITICAL CONSULTANT
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison

Chief Political Consultant
National Democratic Front of the Philippines

Press Statement, 27 December 2004

It is only today that I get the full text of the open letter of Walden Bello and Etta Rosales, reported on by Juan Sarmiento in the December 26, 2004 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and others in other Manila newspapers. My press statement dated December 26, 2004 has already countered the main line of attack against me.

I have exposed as a lie the claim that a diagram, exposing the fragmented status and international connections of certain anti-communist petty bourgeois grouplets, is a “hit list”. I have pointed out that the malicious objective of the lie is to slander me and all the revolutionary forces on the occasion of the 36th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). I have spoken from experience that the revolutionary forces respect the freedom of thought and expression and do not punish anyone for expressing pseudo-revolutionary or even blatantly counterrevolutionary ideas.

Let me begin to answer certain false claims in the open letter that were not covered by the previous report of Sarmiento.

1. False claim: Those who drop out of the armed struggle are targeted for killing just for dropping out.

Answer: The CPP Constitution guarantees to every CPP member the right to voluntarily enter or leave the CPP. Leaving the CPP is not a criminal offense that is subject to administrative disciplinary action by the CPP and to judgment by the people's court or court martial. There has to be prima facie evidence for a criminal offense for the people's court or court martial to issue a warrant of arrest for the NPA to carry out.

2. False claim: The 36 years of armed struggle led by the CPP is merely obsessive.

Answer: Because they are anti-CPP, the letter writers can easily scoff at the resoluteness of the CPP and the people in revolutionary resistance as mere “obsession”. They profit from being reformists and well-behaved citizens of the oppressive state. They deprecate the armed revolution of the people and in effect celebrate the fact that the oppressors and exploiters never tire of oppressing and exploiting the people.

3. False claim: Because the CPP regards armed struggle as the principal form of struggle, it regards all other forms of struggle as inferior and threatening to this.

Answer: The national democratic movement led by the CPP has always developed and excelled in all forms of political struggle, even as Marxism-Leninism teaches that it takes an armed revolution to topple bourgeois state power. The pseudo-revolutionaries and reformists should not imagine that they are more successful than the national democratic movement in various forms of legal struggle. The CPP has always considered both the legal and the armed forms of struggle as necessary and helpful to each other.

4. False claim: The revolutionary armed struggle has not at all empowered the communities under the CPP leadership.

Answer: The CPP has aroused, organized and mobilized millions of people, built itself as the party of the working class, the people's army, organs of political power, mass organizations and alliances of various types. It has thereby led the people in struggles to empower themselves in urban and rural areas. The accomplishments of the CPP and the people in revolutionary struggle are described in the 36th anniversary message of the CPP Central Committee. This can be read at www.philippinerevolution.org

5. False claim: The NPA behaves as badly as the paramilitary units of the AFP.

Answer: The letter writers try to put down the NPA by equating it with the paramilitary units of the AFP. They also imply their high regard for the AFP and PNP regulars. They are indeed good citizens of the reactionary state. The AFP and PNP regulars and their paramilitary adjuncts commit the grossest human rights violations on the widest scale. These are well documented.

The letter writers, Walden Bello and Etta Rosales, can talk and write as much as they want against the CPP and other revolutionary forces. And they can be sure that these targets of their malice will always respect their right of free speech and will answer with the facts and well-reasoned arguments in order to win the ideological and political struggle through debate.

But it is another matter if for example there is a criminal complaint with sufficient evidence that Bello is receiving imperialist funds not only for holding conferences and issuing publications but for organizing groups dedicated to intelligence and psywar for the imperialists against the patriotic and progressive forces. Also, it is another matter if for example there is a criminal complaint against Rosales for stealing funds from her congressional committee, covering up human rights violations or conniving with Imee Marcos in blocking the indemnification of the winning plaintiffs in the US court judgment against the Marcos estate.

Even as the Akbayan and related groups assert that they have the right to engage in any activity, the revolutionary forces will not allow them to use imperialist funds to intrude into the territory of the revolutionary government, undermine the people's government and use the AFP, PNP and official and unofficial paramilitary units against the people and the people's army in Bondoc Peninsula and certain parts of Mindoro and Mindanao. The earlier false claims of Akbayan and others against the revolutionary movement are being answered by the appropriate organs of the people's government. However, Anak ng Bayan, a progressive party in the party list, is still waiting for a satisfactory answer to its a complaint against the criminal connivance of Akbayan, the national security adviser, the AFP and PNP in committing electoral fraud and terrorism.

The NDFP, as representative of the revolutionary forces, is firmly committed to the implementation of the GRP-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and has cooperated with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) in establishing the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) of the GRP and the NDFP. Complaints against any side in the current civil war between the revolutionary government and the reactionary government can be submitted by any entity to the appropriate section of the JMC.

If Bello, Rosales, Akbayan have any complaints, they should make the appropriate submission to the NDFP-JMC and not to the NDFP chief political consultant. Their claims about the death of Nong Boy Ocmen in Agusan del Norte and another unnamed person in Nueva Ecija are specific enough. They should bring up the complaint with NDFP-JMC and present the facts. But shotgun allegations should be avoided, like the following:

1. False claim: The NPA is as bad as Citizens Armed Force Geographical Units of the AFP (CAFGU) for recruiting child soldiers in violation of the UN Covenant on the Rights of the Child.

Answer: Since a long time ago, the CPP, NPA and NDFP have declared and implemented the policy of recruiting and deploying for offensive combat operations young men and women who are not younger than 18 years and for self-defense training those not younger than 15 years of age. During their offensive attacks on communities under the governance of the revolutionary forces, the AFP, PNP and CAFGU kidnap children below 18 years of age, misrepresent these as NPA soldiers, detain them and display them for psywar in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

2. False claim: The NPA engage in gross human rights violations and destruction of property in much the same way as the police and military.

Answer: This claim is not at all borne out by the complaints and facts submitted to the JMC and to the human rights organizations. The letter writers are misusing the name of the Amnesty International in this regard.

3. False claim: The NPA extorts money from electoral candidates in exchange for the “permit to campaign”.

Answer: The clerico-fascists in the GRP negotiating panel made in early 2004 big accusations against the NPA for supposedly extorting money from the electoral candidates early this year. But they never presented any facts. They simply demanded with utmost arrogance that the NDFP submit to the GRP negotiating panel the list of candidates who were supposed to have paid extortion money, state the amount collected per entity and return the money to the said candidates. The clerico-fascists shut up as soon as the NDFP panel countered that the GRP panel was offering neither a single witness nor documentary evidence and demanded an accounting by Macapagal-Arroyo of how much bribe money she was collecting from so many projects and how much government money she was using for her electoral campaign.

The truth of the matter is that every election time candidates and parties approach the revolutionary movement for alliance and cooperation, truce or safe conduct and they make offers for the benefit of the people and the revolutionary movement. Whenever there are terms of agreement for the benefit of the people and the revolutionary movement, the revolutionary leaders concerned exercise all necessary prudence. The clerico-fascists and military psywar experts have systematically misrepresented the revolutionary leaders as imprudent and indiscreet and the NPA as extorting money from the electoral candidates and parties and imposing a tax on their right to speak and campaign.

I conclude this press statement by challenging Bello, Rosales and Akbayan to submit their complaints and evidence of human rights violations to the NDFP-Joint Monitoring Committee and not to the NDFP chief political consultant, unless their real exclusive intention is merely to demonize me and set me up for physical attack in line with the “terrorist” labeling done by the US and other governments. The CARHRIHL provides for the NDFP and the revolutionary forces and people it represents to arrest suspected violators of human rights and international humanitarian law, investigate them and , if the evidence warrants, to prosecute and try them.###

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