SF CHRP (San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines) is a San Francisco based human rights advocacy group. Latest news and views on human rights in the Philippines.
Reference: Rupert Estanislao, chair
On October 12th, Akbayan Partylist representative, Walden Bello, accused comprehensive youth organization, Anakbayan, and the militant trade union center, Kilusang Mayo Uno, of being “fronts” of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
“So let’s face it, let’s put it on the table, [Anakbayan] and KMU are front groups of the extreme Left and they are coming from a difference of politics.” Bello said on air, using the label “extreme left” as a euphemism for the CPP.
On ABS-CBN Bello was responding to criticism that Akbayan was too close to the Aquino administration (with key Akbayan members in prominent positions of power), and therefore not a true partylist organization that could claim to represent marginalized sectors. In response to this, Bello attempted to parry this criticism by claiming that those organizations criticizing Akbayan were “fronts” of the “extreme left,” meaning, the CPP.
“To go on national television and accuse legal mass-based organizations of being ‘fronts’ for the CPP is underhanded, ill informed, and extremely dangerous,” proclaimed Rupert Estanislao, chair of the San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (SF CHRP). “To accuse national democratic organizations and activists of being communists is a tired tactic that comes from the era of martial law.”
“With these pronouncements, Bello is practically plagiarizing these disgraceful tactics straight from the hand book of the number one human rights abuser in the Philippines: the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Estanislao said. “To red bait any person or to label any organization a front of the CPP is practically tantamount to a death sentence. Whenever there has been an extrajudicial killing or a disappearance you can see a trail of pronouncements by the AFP labeling that person a subversive, an extreme leftist, an NPA rebel, or a communist organizer.”
Human rights organizations such as Karapatan, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights have noted in numerous reports that the AFP has used the issue of the communist insurgency in order to circumvent criticisms against itself that it is involved in the practice of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.
“Bello’s inane outburst and accusations on ABS-CBN show his true colors,” explained Estanislao. “Bello claims to represent the interests of the marginalized in the Philippines and he proclaims to be part of the progressive tradition of the left. And yet here he is accusing KMU, a labor center which supports the toiling masses of workers, and Anakbayan, a comprehensive youth organization serving marginalized youth and students, of being ‘fronts’ of the CPP.”
“Bello, and his organization Akbayan, can no longer claim to part of the progressive tradition in the Philippines when they have become the mouthpieces and co horts of the Aquino administration and the AFP,” said Estanislao. “Labeling anyone in the Philippines of being a communist or an NPA rebel is one of the quickest ways to try and silence protest and dissent and one of the sure fire ways to put someone on a military hit-list.”
SF CHRP utterly condemns these baseless accusations by Bello and demands to end the practice of red baiting organizations and individuals. In a country where human rights abuses are running rampant and where a culture of impunity persists the practice of red baiting only leads to the further deterioration of human rights in the Philippines and to the stifling of legitimate dissent against the current unjust social and economic system in the Philippines. Bello, and his fellow Akbayan organizers, need to be held accountable for endangering the lives of those individuals associated with KMU and Anakbayan.