By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — In the face of a crackdown against progressive people’s organizations, Renato Reyes, Jr., secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said activists have no better recourse but to resist.
Renato Reyes, Jr., secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) the national alliance of progressive people’s organizations called on all activists to fight against the impending crackdown. He spoke before the participants of the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) 11th congress today, December 11, here.
Bayan and CPA are among the legitimate organizations the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has labeled as communist fronts.
“We will fight the threats of a crackdown political and legal means that include asserting our legitimacy,” Reyes said.
Reyes said Bayan will continue to assert the legitimacy of their organization through the different mass campaigns on issues affecting the people. He said they will also mount a “vigorous legal defense” against trumped-up charges and harassment.
He also called on the international community to condemn the human rights violations against activists under the Duterte regime.
“We also vow to hold accountable the perpetrators of these gross human rights violations. We continue to organize and mobilize, even as we remain vigilant,” Reyes said.
Reyes said that the political record of progressive organizations will prove that they have consistently been fighting for the people’s interest that include labor rights, genuine agrarian reform, and environmental protection among others.
“Activism is not a crime. Activism is not terrorism,” Reyes added.
Reyes also said that even the revolutionary forces that include the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing the New People’s Army (NPA) are not terrorists because the government has been talking peace with them and even signed agreements with them.
“Even President Duterte admitted he has been supporting the NPA in Mindanao and even said they were his friends,” he said.
Repression breeds resistance
Reyes pointed out that Duterte is not the first president to resort to a crackdown. “Marcos did the same during Martial Law, Arroyo did the same during her reign of terror,” he said.
He said that the crackdown during the Marcos and Arroyo regimes taught progressive groups that repressive measures are bound to fail because repression does not address the root causes of resistance.
“Fascism is a sign of weakness. Dictatorship is a sign of weakness and desperation,” Reyes said. He said that those in power resort to fascist attacks and dictatorship to force their own agenda.
“The crisis of the ruling system is so bad that it pushes people to organize and mobilize,” Reyes said.
“We are already seeing more mass actions now, on different people’s issues,” Reyes added.
He said that just this December 10, on the commemoration of the International Human Rights Day, protest actions against extrajudicial killings, harassment and other forms of human rights violations were mounted all over the country.
Reyes said that given how the Duterte presidency has unfolded, 2018 will be action packed. But , he said it also means greater challenges for activists and the Filipino people. # nordis.net