Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.

×

A killing a day keeps democracy away

Left activists in the Philippines are being killed at an alarming rate. Oscar Reyes spoke to Millet Morante, a leading figure in Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD, Movement for National Democracy) and Laban Ng Masa (Struggle of the Masses), a coalition of progressive organisations and political parties

October 1, 2006
3 min read


Oscar ReyesOscar Reyes is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and is based in Barcelona. He was formerly an editor of Red Pepper. He tweets at @_oscar_reyes


  share     tweet  

I have been an activist for 26 years, most recently as leader of the KPD, formed in 1997, and for the past couple of years working as part of the Laban Ng Masa coalition.

The current wave of political killings started when Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo came to power in 2001. Over the past five years there have been 749 reported extra-judicial killings, about half of which have been of political activists and journalists. Five leaders of the KPD have been killed in this way since last December – all of whom were based in the provinces.

Last December, Cathy Alcantara, the KPD provincial secretary general in Bataan province, was killed by three men on motorcycles, who came up and shot her. These men are found everywhere in the country, they’re the ones doing the killings. Our study and analysis of such cases shows that these paramilitary groups are mandated by the Philippines military. The pattern of the political killings indicates that they are not random excesses but part of a systematic national policy.

In her state of the nation address, President Arroyo even praised the general under whose command most of these killings are taking place and encouraged him to go on with what he’s doing. This campaign of annihilating the government’s political opponents is being conducted against legitimate dissent from people’s organisations. The president is afraid of the citizens because she cheated her way to victory. The people didn’t vote for her. [Arroyo is widely alleged to have rigged the 2004 elections. ]

The wider context is the ‘war on terror’. Arroyo has proven to be the number one puppet of George Bush, as proven by her eagerness to campaign in the region for the adoption of counter-terrorism bills that are actually a disguised form of state terrorism.

We have been called destabilisers and terrorists. Members of my organisation, and so many others, are playing hide and seek with the government and military forces because we could be shot at any time at the whim of the military.

The killings are usually preceded by ‘stalkers’ and threats. We fear for our lives, of course. But we are not really afraid to the point of being immobilised, because over and above the fear we know that the best defence is to be very visible in political activities and to really sustain the ‘No to political killings’ campaign.

It’s important that we speak out in this way because many of us – grassroots activists, especially – have been victims of the government propaganda that says we are all terrorists, communists or whatever, and the people shouldn’t care whether we’re killed. We’re running against time because the government campaign is increasing its intensity. In fact, over the past few days I have heard daily reports of extra-judicial killings.

We have launched a national anti-assassination campaign through the Citizens’ Commission on Human Rights (CCHR).

Laban Ng Mesa has a broader political goal, though – not just to stop the killings but for the whole Arroyo government to step down or be ousted because its programmes are anti-people and pro-foreign multinational companies.

We’re encouraging various forms of international solidarity right now, ranging from an international fact-finding mission to encouraging Europeans to lobby their governments not to support the Arroyo regime. Perhaps these will send a message to the Arroyo government to stop all these programmes that are making the Philippine people suffer so very much.For further information read Amnesty International\’s report on Philippines political killings

Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
Why not try our new pay as you feel subscription? You decide how much to pay.

Oscar ReyesOscar Reyes is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and is based in Barcelona. He was formerly an editor of Red Pepper. He tweets at @_oscar_reyes


The new municipalism is part of a proud radical history
Molly Conisbee reflects on the history of citizens taking collective control of local services

With the rise of Corbyn, is there still a place for the Green Party?
Former Green principal speaker Derek Wall says the party may struggle in the battle for votes, but can still be important in the battle of ideas

Fearless Cities: the new urban movements
A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world

A musical fightback against school arts cuts
Elliot Clay on why his new musical turns the spotlight on the damage austerity has done to arts education, through the story of one school band's battle

Neoliberalism: the break-up tour
Sarah Woods and Andrew Simms ask why, given the trail of destruction it has left, we are still dancing to the neoliberal tune

Cat Smith MP: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has authenticity. You can’t fake that’
Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs and one of the original parliamentary backers of Corbyn’s leadership, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali

To stop the BBC interviewing climate deniers, we need to make climate change less boring
To stop cranks like Lord Lawson getting airtime, we need to provoke more interesting debates around climate change than whether it's real or not, writes Leo Barasi

Tory Glastonbury? Money can’t buy you cultural relevance
Adam Peggs on why the left has more fun

Essay: After neoliberalism, what next?
There are economically-viable, socially-desirable alternatives to the failed neoliberal economic model, writes Jayati Ghosh

With the new nuclear ban treaty, it’s time to scrap Trident – and spend the money on our NHS
As a doctor, I want to see money spent on healthcare not warfare, writes David McCoy - Britain should join the growing international movement for disarmament

Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India, by Shashi Tharoor, reviewed by Ian Sinclair

A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour
A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour: Kenya, Britain and the Julie Ward Murder, by Grace A Musila, reviewed by Allen Oarbrook

‘We remembered that convictions can inspire and motivate people’: interview with Lisa Nandy MP
The general election changed the rules, but there are still tricky issues for Labour to face, Lisa Nandy tells Ashish Ghadiali

Everything you know about Ebola is wrong
Vicky Crowcroft reviews Ebola: How a People’s Science Helped End an Epidemic, by Paul Richards

Job vacancy: Red Pepper is looking for an online editor
Closing date for applications: 1 September.

Theresa May’s new porn law is ridiculous – but dangerous
The law is almost impossible to enforce, argues Lily Sheehan, but it could still set a bad precedent

Interview: Queer British Art
James O'Nions talks to author Alex Pilcher about the Tate’s Queer British Art exhibition and her book A Queer Little History of Art

Cable the enabler: new Lib Dem leader shows a party in crisis
Vince Cable's stale politics and collusion with the Conservatives belong in the dustbin of history, writes Adam Peggs

Anti-Corbyn groupthink and the media: how pundits called the election so wrong
Reporting based on the current consensus will always vastly underestimate the possibility of change, argues James Fox

Michael Cashman: Commander of the Blairite Empire
Lord Cashman, a candidate in Labour’s internal elections, claims to stand for Labour’s grassroots members. He is a phony, writes Cathy Cole

Contribute to Conter – the new cross-party platform linking Scottish socialists
Jonathan Rimmer, editor of Conter, says it’s time for a new non-sectarian space for Scottish anti-capitalists and invites you to take part

Editorial: Empire will eat itself
Ashish Ghadiali introduces the June/July issue of Red Pepper

Eddie Chambers: Black artists and the DIY aesthetic
Eddie Chambers, artist and art historian, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali about the cultural strategies that he, as founder of the Black Art Group, helped to define in the 1980s

Despite Erdogan, Turkey is still alive
With this year's referendum consolidating President Erdogan’s autocracy in Turkey, Nazim A argues that the way forward for democrats lies in a more radical approach

Red Pepper Race Section: open editorial meeting – 11 August in Leeds
The next open editorial meeting of the Red Pepper Race Section will take place between 3.30-5.30pm, Friday 11th August in Leeds.

Mogg-mentum? Thatcherite die-hard Jacob Rees-Mogg is no man of the people
Adam Peggs says Rees-Mogg is no joke – he is a living embodiment of Britain's repulsive ruling elite

Power to the renters: Turning the tide on our broken housing system
Heather Kennedy, from the Renters Power Project, argues it’s time to reject Thatcher’s dream of a 'property-owning democracy' and build renters' power instead

Your vote can help Corbyn supporters win these vital Labour Party positions
Left candidate Seema Chandwani speaks to Red Pepper ahead of ballot papers going out to all members for a crucial Labour committee

Join the Rolling Resistance to the frackers
Al Wilson invites you to take part in a month of anti-fracking action in Lancashire with Reclaim the Power

The Grenfell public inquiry must listen to the residents who have been ignored for so long
Councils handed housing over to obscure, unaccountable organisations, writes Anna Minton – now we must hear the voices they silenced