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The Manila Times
By Elmer A. Ordoñez
“The youth will not fail us”
Saturday, July 26, 2008

This was the message of Satur Ocampo in a memorable paper, “U.P. will forge through risk-filled neoliberal terrain; so will militant activism persists: An Outsider’s View of University of the Philippines,” one of the U.P. Centennial Lectures series in Diliman. The Bayan Muna congressman spoke about the historic role of the militant youth in the self-renewal of the national democratic movement—which today “is very much alive.”

Ocampo, who studied at the Philippine College of Commerce (“the quintessential college for the poor”) and Lyceum (with “ the influence of UP intellectuals” like Sotero Laurel and Jose Lansang), recalls his encounters with U.P. students in conferences—“most of whom [he] held in high regard for their intellectual keenness and boldness in taking the initiative.” He also met “some who annoyed others by their intellectual arrogance and hubris, and, yes, frivolousness.”

He remembers fruitful meetings with Pete Daroy, Jose Maria Sison, Luis Teodoro, Jun Tera, Vivencio Jose, Ferdinand Tinio, Reynato Puno in discussions of the Student Cultural Association of the U.P.—the precursor of Kabataang Makabayan.

He paid the “highest tribute to those who gave their best efforts and sacrificed their lives—most of them in the prime of their youth—to the revolutionary cause.” He said, “while many of these heroes had studied in U.P. there were others, more numerous in fact, from other schools and from all walks of life, who contributed to the national democratic revolutionary movement since the mid-1960s and the early 1970s.”

“Similarly,” Satur Ocampo said, “let me salute the thousands of activists today, the older and the young, from U.P. and elsewhere who with commitment, enthusiasm, and hope, carry on the revolutionary struggle shoulder-to-shoulder with the masses.”

He said the movement seeks to establish a genuine state of the people from its basic units in the countryside communities; that it “has had its ups and downs, its ebbs and flows” and “has suffered setbacks from serious errors, the most serious of which took place in the 1980s.”

Thus, Satur pointed out, “A painful campaign was launched to rectify the errors, which has been largely successful, although some manifestations do appear now and then indicating that lessons from the past have yet to be completely comprehended and assiduously applied.”

Having been part of the legal mass movement (since his release in the early 1990s), Satur said he has found today “rich meaning in my own work in the parliamentary arena despite its numerous pitfalls and limitations.”

To questions about his stand on armed struggle, he quotes from Angel Baking, Philippine Collegian editor in 1940, twice jailed for political offenses—who spoke in U.P. in 1970:

“Not all those who desire revolutionary change in the existing order subscribe to armed struggle, and the majority perhaps to this day, believe they are contributing their share to the overall revolutionary struggle through peaceful and legal means. But this does not negate the reality of armed struggle going on in our midst, and whatever settlements might be arrived at resolutions to the basic conflicts in our society can no longer be said to have been resolved independent of the armed struggle. This is an important aspect of our concrete historical situation which renders theoretical discussion of means academic.”

I am reminded of Ka Roger’s answer to a public forum host who asked if armed struggle (“what the NPA is doing”) is still fashionable (“uso pa ba?”). He said, “Hindi ito question kung anong uso o hinde, kundi ano ang pangangailangan.” (It’s not a question of what is fashionable or not, but one of necessity).

Satur put it this way, ”Sometimes indeed it has been necessary to set aside the consideration and discussion of theoretical or academic issues due to the urgency of continually defending one’s life and fundamental rights against vicious, murderous attacks.” This is the reality of armed struggle as Baking noted—which Satur shared with his audience.

On the new U.P. charter, Satur thinks the “reorientation and expanded roles of the U.P. will surely align it to serve the requirements of global capital via neo-liberalism or globalization with its three prescriptions: liberalization, privatization, and deregulation.” He noted the destructive impact of unbridled globalization over the last 18 years in every part of the world. “What then is the sense in proceeding along this perilous path?”

On U.P.’s role in turning out revolutionaries, Satur said the generations that succeeded Baking’s group have produced “a bountiful harvest of capable, intensely motivated patriots who have taken up the challenge to carry on.” He is proud to have walked along the same road with Angel Baking, and would tell him, “Tumula ka, Abe. Be glad, comrade, because the youth will not fail us.”

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