The leaders of the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPM-P/RPA-ABB), a group that split from the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in the 1990s, have begun accusing each other of corruption and gangsterism – and seem headed for a bloody showdown.
BY KARL G. OMBION AND RICHARD PAUYON
Vol. VII, No. 16, May 27-June 2, 2007
BACOLOD CITY – The leaders of the group that has been branded by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) as a “mercenary and bandit group,” have begun accusing each other of corruption and gangsterism – and seem headed for a bloody showdown. Incidentally, this group has also been accused by various village folks and people’s organizations of human rights violation and extortion.
Early this week, local media received a communiqué from the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPM-P/RPA-ABB) announcing that Stephen Paduano (a.k.a Lualhati Carapali), vice-chairman of RPM-P and national commander of RPA-ABB; Veronica Tabara (a.k.a. Inca); and Ariel Sabandar (a.k.a. Suk) had been expelled from the party effective April 18.
The following day, Carlos Magtanggol, RPM-P/RPA-ABB spokesperson, confirmed over local radio stations the said expulsion, which he said was contained in a resolution of a special plenum of the RPM-P Central Committee held April 17-19 in Panay island.
The resolution, signed by acting plenum secretary and RPM-P spokesperson Magtanggol was attested by RPM-P chairman Nilo de la Cruz, stated that the three were stricken off the party membership and were stripped of all their rights, privileges and representations. The resolution also includes their removal from the Joint Enforcement and Monitoring Committee, the joint body formed by the RPM-P/RPA-ABB) and the government which is in charge of monitoring the implementation of their peace agreement.
The three, the resolution further stated, were found guilty of “grave violations undermining party discipline, unity and integrity” such as abuses during the May 14 elections in Negros. They allegedly engaged in corruption, mercenary acts and gangsterism, as well as promoted vested interests. Tabara was particularly charged with finance opportunism involving party funds and peace-related project funds.
“Usurpation of power”
On the same day, Paduano confirmed over radio stations his expulsion but charged De la Cruz of usurping power. He said that their expulsion was bogus, saying “no individuals in the party, except the congress, have the authority to expel any member.”
“In my case, I was elected by the representatives of various regional commanders who are members of the congress to be their national commander and representative to the national leadership; thus the group of Nilo de la Cruz has no right to expel me much more on questionable grounds,” he said.
Paduano said that Nilo de la Cruz and his group had divulged “internal party problems” and depicted them as bad persons to influence the public and media. He also accused De la Cruz and his group of committing numerous abuses and violations of party principles and programs.
In a subsequent press conference, Paduano, Sabandar and Tabara along with a number of “field commanders” led by Victorino Sumulong said that the expulsion order “was illegal and has no basis, and a misrepresentation of the organization.” They slammed De la Cruz for his “usurpation of power and dictatorial style of leadership.”
Paduano charged that it is De La Cruz and his group who are actually facing various charges of corruption, gangsterism and promoting vested interests.
“De la Cruz’s acts are actually a cover-up of their own violations, and a preemption of the upcoming 3rd Congress of the RPM-P where it is already clear that he would be booted from the leadership,” he added.
Paduano also claimed that he has the support of two-thirds of the entire RPM-P/RPA ABB in Negros, Panay, Cebu, Bohol and Mindanao. De la Cruz disputed the claims of Paduano.
“Dictator and kingmaker”
Magtanggol, in an interview with local media, also belied all the claims of Paduano, adding that the latter has turned into a dictator and kingmaker.
He said that they came out with a press release early this week, especially in Negros where Paduano and his clique are based to inform the media and the public that the three are no longer part of their party, and that all their activities since April 18 are no longer sanctioned by the party.
Magtanggol also chided Paduano for claiming he is still in control of the RPA-ABB even after his expulsion. “It is (Paduano’s) own illusion, and shows only that he does not regard democratic processes and collective leadership in the party,” he said.
He clarified that their party has absolute control of the RPA-ABB. “Mahigpit ang command ng liderato ng RPM-P sa hukbo at intact ang buong hukbo sa Luzon, Mindanao, Cebu, at Negros” (The RPM-P leadership has a tight command over the army and the entire army is intact in Luzon, Mindanao, Cebu, and Negros), he said.
He admitted however that there could be some units in Negros Occidental and Oriental that may be loyal to Paduano, but added that “they are only (Paduano’s) clique, or members who still go with him because they want to know more.”
Magtanggol said that their central committee has not made any decision yet on all the firearms in possession of Paduano and his clique, but urged all the RPA-ABB members who are not subject of the disciplinary action not to follow anymore Paduano, Tabara and Sabandar.
He debunked Paduano’s allegations that RPM-P chairman Nilo de la Cruz usurped power, saying that it was not De la Cruz who decided the three’s expulsion. The expulsion, Magtanggol said, was a product of a unanimous decision of a special plenum of the 19-person central committee.
“Ang nag-expel kay (Paduano) ay ang buong central committee na kung saan ay napatunayan nito ang lahat ng kinasangkutang isyu ng paglabag sa rules, conduct and procedures ng partido; ang nag-expel sa kanya ay sarili niyang mga masamang gawain; siya mismo ang nagsunog sa kanyang sarili” (It was the entire central committee that expelled Paduano, after having proven that he violated rules, conduct and procedures of the party; it was his own misdeeds that expelled him, it was he who burned himself), Magtanggol said.