Mong Palatino

activist, two-term member of philippine congress, southeast asian blogger

About

@mongster is an activist and former legislator who represented Kabataan (Youth) Partylist in the 14th and 15th Congress of the Philippines

There are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ leftists. ‘Good’ leftists must belong to a partylist group. They demand the inclusion of civil society groups in government transactions. They participate in tripartite meetings, they attend UN conferences, they hate Joma Sison, and they endorse the candidacies of Noynoy Aquino and Mar Roxas.

The ‘bad left’ is always wrong. It is dogmatic if it refuses to participate in the elections but it is opportunistic if it joins the elections. It is arrogant if it shuns coalition politics but it betrays the revolution if it builds an alliance with mainstream parties. The left is ridiculed if it fails to gather a big crowd during rallies; but it is also criticized (by armchair activists) if it succeeds in mobilizing its members and supporters in the streets.

A ‘bad leftist’ is a dead leftist. Bad leftists are harassed, abducted, tortured and killed in this part of the world. They are demonized as destabilizers and terrorists. They are not recognized as legitimate political players who can use valid political practices in the electoral arena. Hence, they are mocked if they build coalitions or endorse the candidacies of mainstream politicians.

If the left can do no right and if it cannot be allowed to succeed in parliamentary politics, its only option (and the only correct decision it can accomplish) is to surrender its political goals. Be irrelevant. Disappear. Build an NGO. This is the fantasy not just of the fascist state; but also the wet dream of liberal “fundamentalist freaks.”

********************************

Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza are often described in the media as leftist politicians. This is not wrong. But the practice of naming people and animals for who or what they really are is not applied to centrists and rightists. May kilala ba kayong pulitikong nagpakilala o ipinakilala bilang maka-kanan? Villar is a businessman-politician. Noynoy is the politician son of Cory and the brother of Kris. Gibo is the politician nephew of Danding who studied in Harvard. It is easy to add the leftist tag to Ocampo and Maza but writers often omit to mention the proper political background of Villar, Noynoy and Gibo. Imagine the impact of this seemingly objective writing on how the public perceives progressive leaders like Ocampo and bourgeois politicians like Noynoy. Ocampo’s politics is immediately placed under debate because he is already identified as a leftist while Noynoy’s political leaning is overlooked because his family ties are given more attention. Ocampo’s motive as a public servant is already suspect because of his ideology while Noynoy is introduced as a sincere (and reluctant) politician who is not motivated by any ideology. Rejecting ideology, denying ideology are ideological acts.

*******************************

Gibo speaks in behalf of Arroyo; Noynoy speaks in behalf of his family; Villar speaks in behalf of his party. We do not see each one of them as representing the whole political right and center. Meanwhile, the left is treated as a monolithic political bloc. The actions of one section of the left are attributed to all leftists in the country. Ocampo and Maza are leaders of popular partylist groups Bayan Muna and Gabriela. But academics and commentators want Ocampo and Maza to speak in behalf of ALL leftists – whether they are striking workers, arrested rallyists, student protesters, evicted farmers, exiled communists, and armed rebels.

A leftist is guilty of being a leftist. A leftist is held responsible for the sins committed by dead and living leftists. The weakness of one leftist is blamed on all leftists.

Meanwhile, we do not hear mainstream commentators and academics asking mainstream politicians to pay for the sins of the ruling class. There are no class dictatorships; only evil dictators, selfish leaders, and warlord dynasties. The sins of Quezon are blamed on Quezon alone. The sins of Marcos are the burden of the Marcoses alone. Arroyo’s transgressions are hers alone. We do not speak of the political center and right when discussing these abominations. The forces of domestic reaction have not yet apologized for plunging the country into darkness in the past century.

The liberal right-wingers are always reminding the public about the alleged excesses and blunders of the left. They are obviously suffering from pathological narcissism. They refuse to remember and recognize the bloody record of their reactionary ancestors and conservative gurus.

FYI: Yes, the extreme left has already apologized for its past mistakes.

********************************

Many writers have commented about the historic significance of the militant left’s endorsement for Villar. Let’s view it the other way around. A mainstream politician like Villar is willing to be openly endorsed by the left. A major candidate is not afraid to be identified with individuals who are accused by the military of supporting the rebel movement. A bourgeois party has two militant and anti-imperialist leftists in its senatorial ticket as adopted candidates.

According to a veteran activist, the left was ready to endorse Salonga in 1992 but the grand old man of Philippine politics requested the left not to publicize its endorsement. Was Salonga afraid that an endorsement from the left would alienate his voters? Maybe he was not impressed with the organized strength of the left.

Fast forward to 2009. Villar and other presidentiables have many good reasons to seek the support of the left. The electoral victories of the left in 2001, 2004 and 2007 signified many things: The left has a loyal following among the electorate; its progressive agenda is appreciated and supported by a core constituency; the red-baiting tactic of the state has lost its efficacy. An astute politician cannot afford to ignore the solid base of the left.

Villar’s brave decision to openly embrace a platform-based unity with the left has smashed the taboo in Philippine politics. From now on, the participation of the left will be expected in future electoral contests for top political posts.

But why Villar? Why not Noynoy?

The analysis of the left about the character of the Philippine political party system has not changed. The left continues to assert that politics in the country is dominated by the traditional elite. Villar and Noynoy are both members of the ruling class. If the left will endorse one of them, it should be based on the willingness of the candidate to promote a reform agenda. It was Villar who took the time to draft a document in response to the challenge of leftist groups to advance a people’s agenda in 2010. It was Villar who invited Ocampo and Maza to join his senatorial lineup as adopted candidates. Noynoy was never interested in seeking the support of the left. Maybe he wanted the left to endorse him quietly, a la Salonga in 1992. Noynoy and the mafia in the Liberal Party do not recognize and respect the political strength of the left.

************************************

Ambitious apostates (John Pilger’s term for ex-activists) are protesting the decision of Ocampo and Maza to endorse the Villar-Legarda tandem. They criticized this act as a betrayal of revolutionary principles. They did not notice the irony in their remarks. The people who turned their backs on the movement and those who had tirelessly attacked the left are now concerned about the revolution.

Let us assume they are sincere in upholding the purity of the leftist movement. What revolutionary principles were violated by Ocampo and Maza? What revolutionary goal was abandoned?

The anti-left gang is mad not because the left endorsed a presidential candidate. They are mad because the left has refused to endorse Noynoy Aquino.

**************************************

The left is ridiculed for behaving like a religious cult. It’s not a new accusation. It’s often raised by writers and academics every time they want to attack the politics of the left. The intention is to mock the ‘fanatical attitude’ of leftists. But this reasoning has lost the power to insult. Here is a relevant quote from Slavoj Zizek: “Instead of adopting such a defensive stance, allowing the enemy to define the terrain of the struggle, what one should do is to reverse the strategy by fully endorsing what one is accused of: yes, there is a direct lineage from Christianity to Marxism; yes, Christianity and Marxism should fight on the same side of the barricade against the onslaught of new spritualisms – the authentic Christian legacy is much too precious to be left to the fundamentalist freaks.”

*****************************************

According to French philosopher Alain Badiou, many liberal thinkers have this attitude towards the left: “As a public spectacle the Revolution is admirable, while its militants are contemptible.” There are many writers and intellectuals in the Philippines who are sympathetic to leftist causes but unkind and unfair to leftist militants. There are academics who are masters of subtlety and sarcasm when attacking trapos but blunt, brutal, and rude to leftist leaders. To borrow some words from the great economist Joseph Schumpeter, these anti-leftists “lack any organ for the perception of absurdity.”

Related articles:

Left: 1986 and 2001
Militants and leftists
Total war vs the left

42 Responses to “Misunderestimating The Philippine Left”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by mong palatino, madzaboutu. madzaboutu said: RT @mongster: new blog post: misunderestimating the philippine left: http://mongpalatino.com/2010/01/misunderestimating-the-philippine-left/ [...]

    Tweets that mention Mong Palatino » Blog Archive » Misunderestimating The Philippine Left -- Topsy.com

  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by mongster: new blog post: misunderestimating the philippine left: http://mongpalatino.com/2010/01/misunderestimating-the-philippine-left/

    uberVU - social comments

  3. bigat! this should be read by everyone asap.

    anton

  4. Brilliant. Can we have the honor to repost this entry on our page and other social networking sites?

    chan

  5. dagdag pala, para sa akin mali ang “Noynoy and the mafia in the Liberal Party do not recognize and respect the political strength of the left. ”

    they do not respect the Left, period.

    anton

  6. yes chan. you may repost the article. salamat

    admin

  7. [...] This post was Twitted by vincecinches [...]

    Twitted by vincecinches

  8. i’m a UP student who chanced upon your blog after receiving a yg email from JM Taguiwalo.

    this is brilliant.

    marga

  9. Here is a relevant quote from Slavoj Zizek: “Instead of adopting such a defensive stance, allowing the enemy to define the terrain of the struggle, what one should do is to reverse the strategy by fully endorsing what one is accused of: yes, there is a direct lineage from Christianity to Marxism; yes, Christianity and Marxism should fight on the same side of the barricade against the onslaught of new spritualisms – the authentic Christian legacy is much too precious to be left to the fundamentalist freaks.”

    -there is truth to the words of Slavoj Zizek, the concept of the liberation of the proletariat can be equatied to the Judeo-Christian belief on the search of the “Messiah” and the view toeards the End of Days. Both aspect only line-up towards “liberation”.

    Considering Marx, was a Jew then became a Protestant before being accused of being a atheist by the Catholic Church with his quotation of Prometheus “thus I hate all gods!” in his dissertation, it may be seen the concept of liberation of the proletariat may actually came from the former religious affiliations of Marx. As one of my Thomist professor in Philosophy and Theories of Art said: “Though Marx thinks of religion as an alienation, his mind is still Judeo-Chrisitan because liberation in the aspect of the spiritual is now seen in a materialist perspective.”

    The alleged disunity of Marxism and Christianity professed by fundamental philosophising Catholics is disproved by such evidence in the study of European Philosophy and History.

    Joey

  10. Hi, Mong! :-) Can i repost this in my FB wall?
    I’m a fundamentalist freak and apostate who’s gonna vote for Ocampo and Maza and Palatino! Hope those Noynoy fans won’t strangle themselves with their yellow ribbons when they realize how unpresidentiable he is. Hehe.

    Vida Soraya

  11. kamusta vida. sige please use it in you FB wall. salamat

    admin

  12. salamat sa lahat ng nagcomment at nagtweet, at nagrepost sa FB. may part 2 pero next week na lang

    admin

  13. Hello, Mr Palatino. =)

    I don’t quite know where else to put these, but here. So sorry. Here are four of essays written by Slavoj Zizek, published by the London Review of Books. They’re a handful of the “choicest” in my view. Some might find him, like some find Terry Eagleton, a “Trotsky-lover” (for defending Orwell, for detesting Stalin, etc), but the arguments in these essays are legitimate–or so I find, by my lights. I may have some differences with him when it comes to epistemology and theory-work (and the manner of induction he speaks of when building theory), but I find him, indeed, no less exemplary as a critic (his “performance” on The BBC notwithstanding).

    I hope you do get to read these, brief, exciting essays of his. So

    “Vaclav Havel”
    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v21/n21/slavoj-zizek/attempts-to-escape-the-logic-of-capitalism

    “After the Berlin Wall”
    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n22/slavoj-zizek/post-wall

    “Ahmadinejad, Tyranny, the Left & Cynical Pragmatism”
    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n14/slavoj-zizek/berlusconi-in-tehran

    “Fascism, Communism, and Socialism with a ‘human face’?”
    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v27/n06/slavoj-zizek/the-two-totalitarianisms

    I hope you’ve been fine! Please forgive this rather lengthy post?

    And nice to know you.

    Cheers and many thanks for the space,
    Bee

    beepg

  14. admin

  15. Base sa artikulo mo, pwedeng sabihin na “the left has come of age”. Kaya, yung mga reaksyonaryo ay napopoot dahil yung larangan nila sa elektoral ay hinahamon na ngayon ng mga nasa kaliwa. Hindi biro sa ating bansa na magkaroon ng 3 million na following, given yung violence na dinadaanan nito araw araw sa buong kapuluan. Sa ngayon, kailangang paliwanagan ang malawak na hanay ng mga potential voters ng kaliwa ang 1. coalition politics 2. plataporma ng kaliwa. Et na lang muna.

    vera gensan

  16. napaka-winner ng article na ito. ipapabasa ko sa students ko.

    Joi Barrios

  17. galing. kudos ( :

    yang pulongbarit

  18. luv ko ‘to !! salamat sa magandang input..

    yonie van anterdan

  19. outstanding.

    sarah a.

  20. I plead guilty. Only because: gagamitin ni Villar ang mass base ng left. Exactly the words I uttered upon haring the news the first time, accompanied with wild tsks, tsks.

    This article, this article eloquently
    elaborates the big elephant in the room, and the bigger elephant in the room.

    Banuk

  21. Happy New Year to you and your loved ones.
    This is my first visit to your “new” blog and I like it because it’s easy to access, nice looking and informative. Congrats! Let’s keep in touch.

    Multibrand

  22. “…the left is treated as a monolithic political bloc. The actions of one section of the left are attributed to all leftists in the country.”

    yun ganitong pagtingin sa left hindi ba observations lang sa vanguardist nature ng kaliwa?

    gee

  23. mind if i repost it to other SNS? this is a good article and everybody need to read this.

    i cannot agree with you more mr. Palatino.

    merian kardenas

  24. Were can I buy a Ka Bel T-Shirt?

    Ka Rusty

  25. hear! hear!
    may i repost?
    thanks!

    Karl Mark Labagala

  26. i Mong,

    Ayoko sanang isiping GD ka for having this post days after the new year. Ganun pa man, I must say, it is an interesting reflection on the workings of the left. Gudlak sa electoral campaign. And, happy three kings. :)

    PetiBurges*

    PS: will share this post to the ‘good left’ and some bad-ass left na kilala ko. :)

    PetiBurges*

  27. noynoy, villar or whoever, they are all the same.

    but given that they all hail from the ruling class, what makes us choose one over the other?

    since i believe that the main left is capable of bringing in votes, like they did with the party-list elections, my question about it is about the necessity of such alliance.

    yes, we do alliance work everytime, every campaign, every election, every issue.

    but i think being identified and openly endorsing such trapos and politicians tainted with corruption is not just bad. the left can give more to Villar than what Villar can give the left.

    can’t we just go for the lesser evil? or we just don’t want to because the Akbayan group already is in Noynoy’s camp?

    besides, just imagining Liza Maza raising the hand of Loren Legarda makes me shiver.

    BURAOT

  28. Mong, u d man!
    Pero s tingin ko, medyo kelangan talaga ng mahaba-habang pagpapaliwanag at pagpapaintindi etong pag eendorso at hayagang alyansa kay villar.

    Anto

  29. @Buraot: The discrepancy between a partylist campaign and one that aims for a seat in senate is too big for the resources of “barefoot legislators.” It is especially hard to break into the mainstream without the help of traditional parties. These are the realities that we need to come to terms with.

    We want Satur and Liza to win seats in the senate. We want them to win in order for them to raise the level of public service attainable through the politics of change. We know they will remain steadfast in protecting the people’s interests. Instead of being cowed by the negativity propagated by the rabid supporters of the other reactionary candidates, we should do our best explaining the tacticality of Makabayan’s alliance with the Nacionalistas.

    We know for a hard fact that Makabayan will not be beholden to NP. Instead of getting ourselves down by the uncomfortable image presented by SO and LM shoulder-to-shoulder with Villar and Legarda, let’s get down to the grassroots and tirelessly explain. :)

    Leon

  30. [...] Partylist Representative Raymond “Mong” Palatino, in “Misunderestimating the Philippine Left“, one of the more recent commentaries on the issue, put it this way: “Villar’s brave [...]

    Truth and lice | Filipino Voices

  31. [...] Partylist Representative Raymond “Mong” Palatino, in “Misunderestimating the Philippine Left“, one of the more recent commentaries on the issue, put it this way: “Villar’s brave [...]

    Truth and lice « Random Salt

  32. ang galing! wala akong masabi…

    laob

  33. how dare you people say that noynoy is just another “trapo”!..you don’t know him personally and you don’t know his background yet. stick with villar and you’ll end up bathing on payatas dump site and the whole Philippines will be just a lad of highways. I’m from a anti-left organization in my school. i think if kalipi were to run in congress, will win it for sure. because most students prefer to a leader whose ideals came from within the country.

    Jamellen Benguet

  34. [...] ni Kong. Mong Palatino sa mga pagtuligsa sa Kaliwa sa pagsuporta nito sa kandidatura ni Sen. Manny Villar. Iyan ang [...]

    Neo-Year « Kapirasong Kritika

  35. “Ambitious apostates (John Pilger’s term for ex-activists) are protesting the decision of Ocampo and Maza to endorse the Villar-Legarda tandem. They criticized this act as a betrayal of revolutionary principles. They did not notice the irony in their remarks. The people who turned their backs on the movement and those who had tirelessly attacked the left are now concerned about the revolution.” <– Dito pa lang nasapul na ang mga punto.

    anton

  36. TAMA! Nalinawan ako dahil dito.

    kim caangay

  37. @Jamellen Benguet:
    Ok. so kilala mo sa personal si Noynoy? LOL Pareho pala ng linya si Palparan at ang Kalipi: “Anti-left” at wala ng iba.

    See you this, Feb, Jemellen. Feb lang naman talaga kayo visible.

    kimi

  38. Nasan na ang taga pamandila ng laban sa Burukrata Kapitalismo, di ba tagapagtaguyod na ng burukrata kapisatlisa ngayon…

    synapse

  39. [...] betray their principles when they joined the senatorial ticket of Villar as adopted candidates? The emphatic answer is no. Maza and Ocampo remain committed activists and street parliamentarians who vow to advance their [...]

    Mong Palatino » Blog Archive » Ugly leftist

  40. [...] betray their principles when they joined the senatorial ticket of Villar as adopted candidates? The emphatic answer is no. Maza and Ocampo remain committed activists and street parliamentarians who vow to advance their [...]

    League of Filipino Students » Blogs » UGLY LEFTIST

  41. [...] Misunderestimating the Philippine Left Ugly Leftist Senior Citizen Activists Noynoy and impossible reformism [...]

    Mong Palatino » Blog Archive » Truth will take care of itself*

  42. [...] Left’s sincerity to pursue and expand its parliamentary work was proven when it decided to field senatorial candidates in the 2010 [...]

    Mong Palatino » Blog Archive » The Left as Alternative

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