Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. V,    No. 16      May 29- June 4, 2005      Quezon City, Philippines











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Copyright 2004 Bulatlat


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. Fiel


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 in 1999.

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 P200,000.

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 said.

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.

Indomitable spirits

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.

"Hindi namin pababayaan ang aming kasama” (We will not leave behind our comrade), says Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Joel Virador who also showed up in the picketline.

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 said.

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




© 2004 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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