Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004


@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.

‘Ugly’ refers to the politics of Risa H. and her media officers who issued a press statement accusing Satur Ocampo, Liza Maza, and the Makabayan political coalition of having ‘sold-out’ their principles by aligning with Manny Villar in the 2010 elections. Risa also described Makabayan leaders and organizations as members of ‘nondemocratic left’ who are condoning the alleged criminal activities of the New People’s Army.

A few days before Risa published this statement, she called for a moratorium on election mudslinging. It is unfunny that she ignored her own plea by vilifying her colleagues in Congress and fellow senatoriables Ocampo and Maza.

Did Ocampo and Maza 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 advocacies inside and outside Congress. Their inclusion in the Nacionalista slate is indicative of 1) Villar’s recognition of the militant left’s organized strength and his openness to adopt progressive politics if he becomes president; and 2) the sincerity of Ocampo, Maza, and the Makabayan political bloc to pursue the people’s agenda through parliamentary work.

The left has a sterling record in remaining steadfast as vanguard of the poor and oppressed while keeping a tactical alliance with bourgeois parties and politicians. The left supported Gloria Arroyo during Edsa Dos but it became critical of the new administration when Arroyo mutated into a monster. Ocampo and the late great Crispin Beltran were jailed because of their position that Arroyo must be removed from power.

The left did not financially benefit from its brief alliance with Arroyo. It was the NGO friends of Risa who received a billion peso racket from Arroyo through the so-called peace bonds. When Beltran died a poor man in 2008 despite his three-term stint as member of Congress, it gave a valuable lesson for progressives of all stripes on how to live modestly and avoid the corrupting lifestyle of many politicians.

Its exemplary attitude towards Arroyo during and immediately after Edsa Dos and its brave defiance against the Arroyo dictatorship in the past decade are the left’s best assurance that it will not “sell-out” once Villar becomes the country’s next president. Ocampo and Maza can boast of their untarnished reputation as public servants for nine years as proof that they will not abuse their links with Villar for selfish reasons. The Makabayan Coalition can easily make Villar accountable by invoking the people’s agenda document which Villar signed in a public event last December.

But for Risa and other “Liberal Talibans”, the decision of the left to support Villar is unacceptable because of their naïve belief that Noynoy is the only candidate blessed with a pure heart and good intentions. The other lie (naïve and hilarious at the same time) being peddled by the Liberal Party is that Noynoy is unlike Villar who is spending billions of pesos to win in the elections. Ano sa tingin nila ang ipinambabayad ni Noynoy at Mar sa TV at radio networks, campaigners, at local candidates ng partido sa buong bansa – autograph ni Kris at Korina?

Actually it is Risa’s support for Noynoy which smacks of opportunism. Risa initially endorsed Mar for president but when Noynoy announced his candidacy, she immediately raised the hands of Noynoy. She and her group did this even if Noynoy has not yet publicly stated his platform. Remember the assertion of Noynoy supporters who arrogantly reminded the public that based on tradition (as if the only correct behavior is to follow tradition), the period of finalizing and publishing a platform is only after parties and candidates have filed their candidacy papers? Despite his failure to advance or articulate a meaningful social policy issue, the very popular Noynoy was instantly endorsed by Risa.

Villar had to rescind the NP-KBL alliance and boldly included two militant leftists in his senate slate before he got the approval of Makabayan. Villar was endorsed by the left despite his lower public ratings because he proved to be a more sincere candidate with better track record and competence. It would have been easier for the left if it endorsed Noynoy last November or December who at that time was rating 50-60 percentage points in surveys. But our endorsement is not just based on popularity alone.

Did Risa question the inclusion of VATmen in Noynoy’s campaign team? Did Risa clarify the role of Kamag-Anak Inc. in Noynoy’s candidacy? Did she consider the plight of Hacienda Luisita workers and those who were killed in 2004 when she joined Noynoy?

Landlords like Noynoy are thankful for the amended land reform law (CARPER) which Risa supported in Congress. This law was initially being opposed by landlords in Congress but after successfully inserting their amendments last June, even the Arroyo family and other sugar barons voted in favor of this measure. Risa’s sponsorship of the pro-landlord CARPER complements Noynoy’s adamant refusal to treat the Hacienda Luisita matter as a social justice issue. To use Risa’s own words, it surprises me how easily she has sold out.

In fairness to Risa, she is a consistent critic of the militant left. This is the reason why military officials are supporting her. An anti-communist, military-backed partylist solon in Congress (sorry I can’t mention his name, baka sumikat) always enjoins the group of Risa in advocating the elimination of leftist groups from the political mainstream. Why? Because the military and Risa are mouthing the same demands against members of the legal left – that the latter should also condemn the alleged atrocities committed by the NPA; that by refusing to condemn revolutionary taxation, Ocampo, Maza and other activists are affirming their links with the NPA. Through the press statement mentioned above, Risa legitimized the “murderous lines” echoed by Jovito Palparan.

Risa, who claims to be a leftist, should know better that the group she is attacking is not a terrorist organization. The Communist Party is a revolutionary group which espouses the establishment of a new political order through revolutionary means. If she thinks that the Communist Party is a mere terrorist cell which exists to extort money from businessmen and politicians, then why did she agree to become a member of the GRP-NDF peace panel representing the Arroyo government in 2001?

As a student of politics and history, I am aware that most revolutionary groups employ various means, including use of arms, to overthrow the established order. Let us agree that there are now peaceful means to advocate change. But we can’t blame other segments of the population if they continue to think that the reign of injustice and numbing poverty in the country can only end through revolutionary violence. Even the UN recognizes the right of the people to take up arms if they think the elected government has made it impossible for the people to demand change through peaceful means.

By parroting the Palparan doctrine that NPA members are mere murderers and extortionists, isn’t Risa providing ideological justification for the continued postponement of the stalled peace talks? Isn’t this moral-booster line giving the military another reason to step up the all-out war tactic in the countryside instead of addressing the root causes of armed struggle? As leftists, isn’t it more correct and progressive to advocate peace talks and tackle the reasons why many Filipinos continue to take up arms instead of prodding activists to denounce the CPP-NPA? That the insurgency has lasted for more than four decades (the longest insurgency in Southeast Asia) means it is more than just a band of gun toting crazies who love to sread mayhem in the country.

Risa’s insinuations against Maza, Ocampo, and Makabayan members are dangerous because the military can use them to butrress its red-baiting campaign against activists in the legal arena. At least the NPA can defend themselves during military operations but unarmed activists are helpless against illegal combat and psy-war operations. Politicians like Risa, Palparan, and Arroyo who continue to link the legal left with the underground left is the reason why activists continue to be harassed, abducted, tortured, and killed in this part of the world.

Risa’s press statement is not just a demolition job aimed at Ocampo, Maza and Villar. It is part of a systematic campaign to defeat and isolate the left. From day one of campaigning, the military has been very aggressive in its illegal campaign to sabotage the candidacies of Ocampo, Maza, and Makabayan partylist groups. It sends poison letters and death threats to Makabayan candidates, leaders, supporters, and now politicians who endorse the left. Military officers conduct illegal assemblies in communities and schools to warn residents and students against voting Satur, Maza, and Makabayan candidates. Soldiers and their supporters are actively defacing the campaign posters of the left. Palparan is given substantial media time to spread lies in public. The Liberal Party spokesman questions the inclusion of communists in the Villar senate lineup. It is unfortunate that the communist bogey is being used againto get the support of the US imperialist masters.

The post-election scenario is very scary for activists and leftists.

A few years ago, Akbayan stalwarts denounced their inclusion in the so-called NPA hitlist. It turned out that the hitlist was fictitious and the Akbayan leaders who feared for their lives are still very much alive today. They raised a lot of noise in global NGO summits presenting themselves as victims of a totalitarian ideology. What was tragicomic from that affair was that the groups and activists whom Akbayan accused of having ideological and organizational links with NPA were the ones who got abducted and killed by elements close to the military.

Akbayan didn’t kill my comrades and I’m sure it has many members who sympathize with our cause but by spewing out the same malicious accusations hurled by the military against militant activists, (again to use the words of Risa) it “indirectly helps human rights violators like Palparan to commit further abuses.”

Will there be another crackdown against the ‘nondemocratic left’? The signs are evident that the anti-communist bloc will pressure the next president to intensify the war against “communist terrorists” and their “legal fronts.” Wittingly or unwittingly, Risa and her party are being used to whip up insane anti-red hysteria in the country.

Is Risa a leftist? Palparan claims he is a human rights defender; he is even a member of the House Committee on Human Rights. Is Risa a democratic leftist? Palparan is a protector of democracy. What binds Palparan, the democracy-loving general and Risa, the democratic leftist is their shared hatred against the politics of Maza, Ocampo, and Makabayan.

But is she a leftist? Her statements on land reform, living wage, debt moratorium, human rights have been described in the media as progressive. Often, she is mistaken to be a member of Anakbayan or Gabriela. Maybe her statement against the ‘nondemocratic left’ is an attempt to publicly dissociate herself from the ranks of the militant left. Fine. I’ll return the favor by paraphrasing Fredric Jameson: “We have much in common with Risa and her party, in fact virtually everything – save the essentials.”

Long live the revolutionary tradition of the left!

Also read:

Makabayan’s response to the current red-baiting…
Ang maruming laban
Palparan’s new spokesperson

21 Responses to “Ugly leftist”

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

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  2. League of Filipino Students » Blogs » UGLY LEFTIST

  3. long live!


  4. magandang analysis ah. the beautiful ‘leftist’ is not that beatiful after all.


  5. minsan kasi dapat lumabas ang akbayan at mag-organisa, hindi yung nag-aagawan sila sa bread…

    ang problema, miski mag-organisa sila, ang habol lang naman talaga nila eh bread…halimbawa, ang kanilang “bantay riles”…

    congrats sa artikulo…binibigyan nito ng picture ang mga mambabasa na hindi lang simpleng “ideological” ang hati sa pagitan natin at ng akbayan bagkus ay tumatagos ito hanggang sa itinataguyod na polisiya…

    liza maza for senator!

  6. this is a good rebuttal of risa’s position, mong. i’ll share this.

    is she really an activist? what does her campaign do to the worsening economic conditions of our people? what is her participation in our collective fight for a government that is truly by the people?


  7. I fully agree! Congrats!
    Indeed an enlightening piece that should educate everyone even the ugly “leftists” (better call them fakes and demagogues).

    More.. more… of this article. Pakisunod ang pag-analisa sa TV ads na 2 landas. Presumptuous, empty and full of demagoguery>


  8. I dont see any good in Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza. Risa is right, both of them kissed the ass of Villar just to get campaign funds and fulfill their dreams of becoming a Senator. They won’t get any votes from educated, rich and even the masang Pilipino– they’ve always been associated with the NPA which is true! Sayang lang at nadadamay si Risa kaya pati siya di umangat angat sa survey. But taking a look at the survey, mas may chance pa si Risa na manalo kesa kina Ocampo at MAza na yung boto eh mas malaki pa ang Senatoriables ng Bangon Pilipinas na si Kata Inocencio.

    danil Osmena lubay

  9. Yet another enlightening article na ipababasa ko sa ilang kaibigan who rabidly campaign for her.


  10. Iwinawagayway ni Andres ang bandila ng mga katipunero sa pagpupugay sa inyong paninindigan! mabuhay kayo at ang bagong henerasyon ng mga aktibista!


  11. Walang pinag-iba si Risa kay Palparan, maliban sa alampay na nakasabit sa balikat niya!


  12. Great polemics, Mong! But no need to have a long piece, or spend a lot of attention to Risa. Also, the elevated stance of your article doesn’t need a slogan at the end. The last sentence could be deleted.

    I am simply amazed at how you could rapidly come up to the occasion and have a brilliant polemic like this.

    Noy Amante

    Noy Amante

  13. Hehe, internal dissension among the Left is funny. Long live your kangaroo courts and cultural (outright murder) purgings. Long live totalitarian (oh, communist) govts. Long live businessmen, (bastard capitalists) such as Villar! 🙂

    Frederic Santiago

  14. […] May isa, dalawang magandang entri si Anton Dulce tungkol dito. Mayroon din sina Arnold Padilla at Mong Palatino. […]

    Walang Manggagawa sa Midya « Kapirasong Kritika

  15. Links of Nat Dems’ Desperation « Sosyalismo Alternatibo!

  16. Please delete comments or messages that do not contribute to the discussion, such as that by Frederic Santiago above. Please publish comments only which contribute critical ideas, which may or may not agree with your viewpoint.

    Noy Amante

  17. In publishing comments or opinions from readers, a good practice to adopt is The New York Times ( or the Guardian of UK: Comments and articles are fairly constructive.

    NOY Amante, Korea

    Noy Amante

  18. Ang Sablay « Sosyalismo Alternatibo!

  19. I’m curious. What is your opinion sa reports na ang CPP-NPA ay nangaambush ng mga convoy na nagdadala ng PCOS machine sa polling centers?


  20. […] 2010 at 6:31 am and is filed under reds. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own […]

    Ugly leftist

  21. Let’s call a spade a spade… you calling Risa H an opportunist while justifying Satur’s and Maza’s alliance with Villar is smack of hypocrisy. Villar the riches politician and ultimate capitalist in alliance with Satur and Maza is not opportunism? And you are dreaming if not totally naive if you think you can make Villar accountable to your agenda!


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