The following is an abridged version of a statement issued on June 23 by the Laban ng Masa (Struggle of the Masses) coalition of left-wing political and social movemen t activists. Under President Gloria Arroyo's government, at least 124 leftist activists and journalists have been assassinated. On June 19, Arroyo's government announced that it had adopted a strategy of "all-out war" against the Maoist Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its New People's Army (NPA) guerrillas, estimated to number 10,000. Arroyo's national security adviser, Norberto Gonzales, declared on television: "They want war so we will give it to them."
Gloria Arroyo has already done so much damage to our country. Political killings continue unabated with an alarming number of activists and journalists killed. Now she is out to aggravate the root causes of popular unrest with the strategy of all-out war [against anti-government guerrillas].
DOJ [Department of Justice] secretary Raul Gonzales stated the obvious when he said that "collateral damage" is unavoidable in all-out war. Civilians, especially leaders and active members of people's organisations, will bear the brunt of this strategy. Almost always, they are deemed suspects by the military as supporters of the guerrillas. The guerrillas have better chances of survival because they know how to elude and fight back when cornered, but the civilians are utterly vulnerable.
Peace is only possible where the demands of social justice are met. Instead of creating such an environment, the all-out war strategy drives people to take up arms or support those who are organised for armed struggle.
We fully sympathise with the widows of Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara in their private initiative to seek justice for their husbands, but we condemn the cynical use by the government of their cases to sow intrigues.
We are dismayed by [alleged CPP leader] Jose Maria Sison's statement in the June 17 Philippine Daily Inquirer justifying the NPA's killing of their former comrades Kintanar and Tabara as "acts of the revolution". Inadvertently perhaps, Sison lends a semblance of credibility to the government's propaganda line that the left is responsible for the spate of political murders.
Laban ng Masa upholds the principle that political differences and ideological disputes should be resolved through civilized and intelligent debates, not through the physical extermination of adversaries.
From Green Left Weekly, July 5, 2006.
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