Drawing Courage from People’s Support
Militant activist leader
faces arrest for rebellion
If political activists in other regions
are said to be dodging bullets from assassins, in Davao, they are parrying
legal attacks coming from no less than the military.
By Cheryll D.
Alvin Luque at the picketline in
front of the Hall of Justice
DAVAO CITY - If political activists in other regions are said to be
dodging bullets from assassins, here in this part of the country, they are
parrying legal attacks coming from no less than the military.
Such is the case of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic
Alliance) Southern Mindanao secretary general Alvin Luque who is faced
with a three-year-old rebellion case filed against him by the Armed Forces
of the Philippines’ 73rd Infantry Battalion.
In 2002, the military filed charges against Luque on the basis of
testimonies made by members of Citizen's Armed Forces Geographic Unit (Cafgu)
who alleged they saw Luque deliver cash and cellular phones to New
People's Army (NPA) guerillas in the hinterlands of Davao
City in Marilog District, sometime
Almost three years after the case was filed, Luque's enemies are now
setting the motion to arrest him and bring him to jail. Recently, Judge
William Layague of the Regional Trial Court Branch 14 decided that a
warrant of arrest be issued against Luque, with a bail bond placed at
A billing way beyond reach
"I have not held
P200,000 in my hands," says Luque whose work in their organization is
voluntary. Besides, their organization, a cause-oriented group, neither
has the said standby fund.
Luque says, people work for Bayan on the basis of principles, and there is
no remuneration to speak of. "Here, people, especially the poor and
discontented with policies of the state come together because they believe
their rights have yet to be fought for and to dissent is a freedom they
are supposed to have to win out these rights," says Luque.
Luque believes his accusers intended only to silence him and their
organization. "They anticipate to see me detained to demoralize and
discredit my organization, its allies and supporters," the militant leader
Calling the military establishment "berserk" in that it is now on a
"killing rampage against its enemies and perceived enemies," Luque fights
back to prove their efforts against him and his organization are futile.
Undaunted by an
imminent arrest, a feisty Luque appeared in a picket staged by colleagues
and supporters in front of Davao
City’s Hall of Justice last Monday
where workers, farmers, urban poor, including student organizations massed
up to protest in his side.
pababayaan ang aming kasama” (We will not leave behind our comrade),
says Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Joel Virador who also showed up in the
Virador says he is proud because unlike the military elements, the
motivation of activists goes far beyond monetary consideration. Virador is
presently reputed to be the poorest representative in the house.
Also among those who showed up in the picketline to show support for Luque
include once jailed peasant leader Antonio Flores. An activist since the
Martial Law years, Flores fell in the hands of raiding police elements
that stormed his house in 2001 and consequently put him behind bars. But
after serving a year in detention, Flores had been released because the
courts could not find sufficient evidence to pin him down for rebellion.
Now he is back in the streets, active and ever crusading for farmers'
rights as the spokesperson of a peasant mass organization.
"I believe Alvin can fight this out,” Flores said. “In the first place,
the evidence against him are clearly fabricated, and in the first place,
his accusers, are faced with a credibility problem," referring to Luque's
accusers who were posted bail by military after they were convicted and
issued warrants of arrest in the massacre of farmers and civilians up in
Pangyan, a hinterland District in Davao City sometime in 2002.
"We can even file
cases against these elements for murdering our fellow farmers.
Unfortunately, they are now being protected and are being kept by the
military for their purposes, " Flores quipped.
Flores has this message to perpetrators of political repression: "Every
activist knows that sacrifice is always part of the work and that they
prevail no matter how harsh the conditions are."
Turning to the people for courage and support
Calling it a test case for the militant mass movement, the
struggle of Luque now extends to other organizations that are one with him
in his fight. In the face of crisis, militants are turning to the people
for courage and support.
Fr. Benedicto Bacalso of Iglesia Filipina Independiente, who came on that
day to show support for Luque, finds his act important. "If they keep on
doing this to the ranks of progressives, what will happen to legitimate
dissent? We have to fight for people like Alvin Luque," Fr. Bacalso said.
Asked whether he is afraid that the person he is supporting is an accused
"communist rebel," Fr. Bacalso believes the red scare tactics are worn
out. "A church person, who understands the calling, should realize that
the church could not just stand back in the face of oppression. He should
choose to uphold the good and stand against what is wrong," Fr. Bacalso
He believes that what happened to Luque is part of the ongoing
cold-blooded murders of leaders and progressive individuals, including the
religious, among them was his colleague, IFI priest Fr. William Tadena who
was slain because he sided with the struggling workers.
Militants are now saying, if there is one thing that the military would be
getting out of the trumped up case against Luque, it would only strengthen
their resolve to step up the fight against political repression.
At present, colleagues of Luque are out to prove that despite having no
money to put up with their enemies, they can slowly bring the amount up
through concerted action.
Calling the campaign "Piso-Piso para kay Alvin Luque", they intend to make
it a way to raise not only funds, but public understanding as well on the
current persecution of Luque and all other political activists. The
campaign is now being spearheaded by End Repression – Network for the
Advancement of Civil Liberties (Er-NaCL), a multisectoral formation
backing Luque's battle. Bulatlat
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© 2004 Bulatlat
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