Party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna dismisses recent charges by top armed forces officials that he gave communist guerrillas P5 million to bomb Metro Manila as mere products of the “military’s wild imagination.” The charges surfaced on the eve of a big rally led by militant peasant groups in Mendiola, Manila.
BY DABET CASTAÑEDA
Furious over military allegations that he supposedly donated P5 million in cold cash to a New People’s Army (NPA) unit in Aurora province, Bayan Muna (BM) Rep. Satur Ocampo faced the rallying crowd in Morayta, Manila Oct. 21 with rage and a mouthful to say against his accusers.
“Ako po si Satur Ocampo (I am Satur Ocampo),” he started his speech, then asked the crowd: “Kilala nyo ba ako? (Do you know me?)”
“Oo (Yes),” the crowd shouted with glee then broke into a thunderous applause.
Supposedly, his question was not directed to the crowd but to a group of generals who, a day earlier, announced to the media that a certain “Ka Satur” channeled funds to the NPA for the purpose of buying “bomb chemicals.” The “bombs,” they said, will be lobbed by “New People’s Army infiltrators’ in a rally in Metro Manila.
In a press conference at the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) in Camp Aquino, Tarlac City (120 kms from Manila), Oct. 20 Nolcom chief Lt. Gen. Romeo Tolentino and AFP deputy chief of staff Lt. Gen. Samuel Bagasin told reporters that soldiers found bomb chemicals and other paraphernalia in a raid of an NPA camp in Aurora (231kms north of Manila) on Sept. 27 and 28. In the incident, the army raiding team supposedly seized a letter of an NPA leader to another stating the bomb chemicals were funded by “Ka Satur.”
In the same press conference, Bagasin said: “Isa lang naman ang Ka Satur na kilala natin na malapit sa NPA (There is only one Ka Satur who we know is close to the NPA),” obviously referring to Ocampo who was the former spokesperson of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) during peace talks with government in 1986-1987.
A former journalist before the Marcos dictatorship who went underground when Martial law was declared Sept. 21, 1972, Ocampo was first captured by military agents in his hometown in Pampanga in 1976. He spent nine years in maximum prison before escaping from his guards during the election of officers of the National Press Club. He went underground and resurfaced in 1986 as member of the NDFP panel in the peace negotiations with the Aquino administration.
Peace talks bogged down in January 1987 following the massacre of 13 farmers during a protest rally in Mendiola, Manila. Months earlier, in September 1986, government agents assassinated labor leader Rolando Olalia. Government insiders also revealed that Ocampo and other NDF negotiators were in the military hit list at that time.
Ocampo again went underground but was captured anew in 1989. He was charged with illegal possession of firearms and detained for another four years. The case was dismissed on Aug. 30, 2002.
“Pero sa lahat ng mga kasong inihapag laban sa akin, absuelto ako. Absuelto si Satur Ocampo” (I was absolved of all the cases lodged against me. Satur Ocampo was absolved), he told the crowd while pounding the air.
In an interview after his speech, Ocampo said the supposed NPA letter containing his name was obviously the handiwork of military intelligence agents.
For one, he said the letter referred to the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration as a “U.S.-Arroyo imperialist regime,” a politically-wrong phrase, Ocampo said. The politically-correct term, he said, is “U.S.-Arroyo puppet regime” which indicates the puppetry of the Manila government to U.S. imperialist dictates.
Second, Ocampo said if it was true that he funded the alleged bomb paraphernalia, the NPA would not in any way proclaim, or worse, put into writing, its supposed “benefactor.”
“That’s funny. They (the NPA) won’t do that to anybody,” he said.
The supposed NPA letter also stated that “Ka Satur” instructed the NPA to expedite the production of bombs to be used for destabilizing the government that would lead to the ouster of Macapagal-Arroyo.
Ocampo said that was the height of malice because he is one of the leading opposition personalities campaigning for the ouster of the president. Macapagal-Arroyo is used of electoral fraud, corruption and human rights violations leading to calls for her removal.
Ocampo also stressed that this latest attempt by the military to malign his name is but part of the concerted attacks on his party (Bayan Muna) and its members.
This, he said, is all happening in Central Luzon where only last week, the BM provincial coordinator in Camiling, Tarlac province, Flor Collantes, was assassinated while the party-list’s provincial headquarters in Tarlac City, was burned three days after. Both incidents allegedly involved soldiers from the 7th Infantry Division (ID) under the command of Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, Ocampo and Bayan leaders in the region said.
The 7th ID is under the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) while Palparan is the general accused by human rights organizations of being involved in several cases of violations of human rights. He has been charged before the justice department and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) with the killing of human rights leaders, activists and leaders and members of BM in the province of Oriental Mindoro and the Eastern Visayas region.
Palparan has announced in several media interviews he is bent on wiping out communist forces in Central Luzon which is known to be the bastion of insurgency in the country. Last year, Nolcom published the book “Trinity of War” which named BM as one of the organizations considered as “enemies of the state” for allegedly being a front organization of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
This tag, Ocampo said, has given the military a free hand to harm BM members and leaders with impunity. Since it topped the party-list elections for Congress in 2001, 45 BM members and leaders have been summarily executed. Many others have been wounded in failed assassination attempts.
This is the second time that government agents have dragged Ocampo into redbaiting. During the election campaign in 2004 – which BM again topped – National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales and Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales took turns in trading red innuendoes to Ocampo, the most notable of which was the report that BM channeled funds to the NPA.
Ocampo said these are but products of the military’s imagination. (Bulatlat.com)