By BENJIE OLIVEROS
Look beyond the name-calling and the labels – communist-terrorists, extortionists, ideological orphans, Stalinists, followers of a lost cause – what do you see?
Do you see people who have suspiciously amassed wealth and its trappings such as palatial mansions and houses, luxury cars, jewelry, money and capital that they could not spend in their lifetime, land, guns and other toys for the big boys, etc.? Do you see them hiring armed guards, the police and soldiers to enforce their claim over land that is not theirs in the first place? Are they being surrounded by a coterie of people, plus hangers-on, who respond to their beck and call?
Well, you could say these things when looking at the lives of stockholders and CEOs of big foreign and local businesses, big landlords and hacienderos, high government and military officials including the president, and powerful political clans. But certainly one could not say the same thing when describing personalities identified with the Left, whether from the underground or legal Left.
Do you see them driving new cars, dining at nice hotels and restaurants, and sipping expensive wine and liquor while talking about how to address poverty? Do you see them sitting in air-conditioned offices, enjoying the perks of position, power and privilege?
One could see these from middle-level government officials and NGO bureaucrats, including those who used to be with the Left who now has the habit of launching vitriolic attacks at their former comrades. But the same could not be said about the lifestyles of those who chose a life of struggle underground and those who chose to work with people’s organizations that are bereft of funding and resources.
Do their children study in expensive private schools? Do they try to keep up with their friends and neighbors in accumulating properties and luxury items such as cars, widescreen TVs, the latest gadgets, and nice, shiny cars?
One could see these from among the middle class but not from those who chose to turn their back on the conveniences and opportunities being offered by a middle class life.
Do they kill, torture, abduct and disappear, and imprison people with impunity specifically targeting those who pose a threat to their personal interests and to those whose interests they represent?
The same could be said about a lot of government and military officials and big time criminals but not the leaders and members of the Left.
Do they steal, kidnap, extort money from people and murder those who get in their way to be able to line their pockets with money?
These best describe criminals and not those who have taken up arms to pursue justice and equality.
Are they stupid, blind followers with leaders who are irrationally obsessed with a failed ideology?
The Left is populated by some from the middle class with good educational backgrounds, with a substantial number having excelled in school, and by the majority coming from the working masses who have been tempered in the struggles of their daily lives and in fighting for the rights of their class or sector.
It is also quite a stretch to say that there are people who are stupid enough to choose to pursue a path with so many risks and sacrifices without an iota of hope and a good measure of certainty that their ideals of a better life for all could be achieved.
Look at the those from the Left who are in the list of the military and the government’s most wanted – Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Austria, Jose Maria Sison, Luis Jalandoni, Connie Ledesma, Alan Jasmines, Tirso Alcantara, Jorge Madlos, or even the late Ka Roger Rosal and Tony Zumel – do you see any indication that they are enjoying the trappings of wealth, power and privilege? None at all.
Do you picture them as blood-thirsty terrorists who kill for the sake of killing or for personal gain as the military is wont to portray them? The government and military even have to resort to filing the most absurd cases against them and violate their right to due process by shortcutting its own judicial processes to be able to justify their arrest and continued detention.
Do they appear as irrational people who are obsessed with a failed ideology? Why should they when they could choose a simpler, safer, more convenient life?
One may or may not agree with their ideology or their way of pursuing their ideals but one could not deny that these people are doing it for a cause greater than themselves.
Why should one be afraid if what they are trying to change is the current system where people get poorer, justice remains elusive and social inequities are getting worse every year? If there is no genuine opposition – not one that pretends to be but is only interested in getting a bigger slice of the pie – nothing would compel those in power to address the worsening poverty and immiseration.
Only those who entrench themselves in power by the use of force, legal manipulation, and money and those whose power, wealth, and privileges are threatened by the ideology and struggle these people represent should be afraid of them. That is why they, who are in power, are doing everything to deny these people of their rights, liberty and capacity to pursue their aims.