Credits to Pilgrims for Peace

Magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat. Maraming maraming salamat sa pagdalo sa pagtitipong ito. You have all generously chosen to share much of your time, a large chunk of it lost in gruelling Saturday traffic, to be in this gathering. I wish I could pay you back in kind for the time spent and the stress you have had to endure. Ironically, now that my freedom of movement has been curtailed drastically, I have an “unli”supply of free time in exchange. Additionally, I am rendered “stress-free” from commuting and driving through Metro Manila traffic. Unfortunately my free time and stress-free accommodations are non-transferable. And even if they were, I doubt there would be any takers.

Presumably, there is no need to argue my innocence of the crimes the state has charged me with to throw me behind bars and detain me indefinitely. We should rather dwell on why I have been targetted particularly as a “terrorist” and “enemy of the state”. Not so much to focus and elaborate on my plight as a victim of injustice and persecution, as to illustrate and dissect the mindset that builds on blatant lies, twists and misuses the law, and tramples on the norms of decency and justice.

For some reason I have yet to completely fathom, the national security establishment has deliberately portrayed me in their official documents (e.g. court petitions) and on national media these past few months as a ranking “communist terrorist.” They allege me to be the head of the CPP National Education Department, a member of the CPP International Department, member of the NDFP Peace Negotiating Panel, and most recently a Red fighter in an NPA unit operating in Davao Oriental. All at the same time!

The plain and simple truth is that I am not, and never have been, any of the above.

Moreover, you need only have the vaguest idea of what each of those functions might entail to conclude definitely that it is impossible for any mortal human to be all these concurrently.

One may be tempted to say such absurdities are not uncommon in the realm of military intelligence. Or rather the failure, if not the dearth of it. But no, this most recent attack leading to my arrest erases all doubt that these so called guardians of the Republic and the Constitution will sink to any depth to serve their real masters.

My miscalculation was that they could not sink much deeper after the AFP top command singled me out along with Satur Ocampo as orchestrating a fictitious ”Red October” oust-Duterte plot. They peddled this atrocious lie on national TV and social media in an interview by no less than Tina Monzon Palma. It was easy enough to debunk since in the first place I was not even a member of any of the broad array of organizations and alliances supposedly involved in the plot. Nor had I been in, much less presided over any of the meetings leading to the big September 21 protest rally which the AFP command claimed would spark the ouster campaign.

What boggles the mind and strain one’s credulity is this: On September 17, at the crucial homestretch less than a week before the big rally I was allegedly coordinating, an army private swore before a Lupon, Davao Oriental fiscal/prosecutor that he saw and recognized me as one of the NPA fighters shooting and wounding him in a remote Lupon sitio. How remote? Lupon is 1,493.1 kms from Manila as the crow flies. The NPA ambush occurred less than 18 hours after I left the Batasan where I addressed the HOR Special Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity in the presence of OPAPP Sec Dureza, GRP Negotiating Panel Chair Sec Bello and their staffs, and 8 hours after I attended a 7 pm-11 pm dinner-meeting with some lawyers and a politician in Quezon City.

My alleged but improbable participation in that ambush is the basis for the arrest warrants for murder and attempted murder.

This betrays a high-level sinister though crude design to put me behind bars by twisting the law and perjuring the judicial process. In anticipation of the flimsy charges being dismissed eventually, the usual fabrication of illegal possession of firearms and explosives was set up and resorted to. Again I underestimated the cruelty and vileness of these so-called protectors of the people.I had not figured they would plan and affect my arrest such that not only I but my wife Cora, too, would be incarcerated indefinitely.

This mindset of the security establishment is nothing new. “National security” is equated to maintaining the status quo. The vested interests of the powerful few, both domestic and foreign, are misrepresented as “national interest”. This mindset has been around and prevalent even before the Marcos martial law years. What is apparently new is that the civilian agencies and institutions, including the courts, are increasingly, if crudely, weaponized and employed in even more vicious counter-insurgency campaigns invoking “national securityy” and “national interest”. The military retains its primacy even as it dons a civilian mask.

It is de facto martial law sans a formal declaration. The victims of this mindset are countless. Mostly nameless and faceless they suffer fates more horrendous than many of us have seen or heard of.

Certainly much more than what Cora and I experienced. Allow me to add, at this point, what I have personally learned only now from my month in detention. This is the first time for me to share a crowded jail with 21 others, only three (3) of whom are political prisoners. The rest are suspected drug pushers, addicts, thieves, swindlers, wife beaters, etc. Criminal or not, each of the 22 cramped into a 3mx4mx7m space equally has the right to be presumed innocent before the bar of justice. Yet nearly all of us had been set up by overzealous “law enforcers” and charged with illegal possession of firearms on top of the original criminal charges. Aside from other less-than-noble motives, the aim is to ensure or threaten prolonged detention.Those who can would usually post bail to obtain temporary release, if not eventual freedom. Those who cannot are urged, if not compelled, to admit to the fabricated charge to get a lighter sentence. Political prisoners, thus, consist of only a small fraction of the tip of the iceberg of the mass of unjustly charged and incarcerated.

I would like to think that the real reason I am being detained – indefinitely if the kingpins of national security have their way – is that somehow I am contributing my share to the people’s struggle to overhaul this unjust and undemocratic social system. Only diehard reactionaries would condemn this as a criminal act.

A great thinker and teacher once said, it is good to be attacked by your enemy because it shows there is a clear line of demarcation between what you and they are fighting for…and it shows that you are effective and doing your work well.

My fervent wish is that this gathering will somehow, in various ways, in the short, middle and long run, contribute to frustrating the designs of those who wish to perpetuate the status quo, and to the building of a truly free, democratic and just Philippine society.

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