My initial intention was to write about the appointment of radical personalities associated with the Communist Party-led National Democratic Front (NDF) in the Rodrigo Duterte Cabinet. Such is a bold, risky, and controversial act. My tentative assessment is that while it may create uncertainties and surprises in the short term, it can pay off strategically in terms of achieving the peace and enabling the meaningful participation of the Left in the democratic process.
But in the course of searching materials to develop my line of thinking, I stumbled on a statement of Jose Maria Sison, the founding Chair of the re-established Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), which led me to digress.
The statement is a vitriolic reaction to an unsolicited piece of advice from Etta Rosales, former Chair of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and once a leading CPP-NDF cadre, with regard to the raging issue on the burial of dictator Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
In Ms. Rosales’s piece of “unsolicited advice” to Mr. Sison, she asked: “Is it not the height of irony then that the road to peace and reconciliation should start with giving Ferdinand Marcos, the oppressor of martial law martyrs, recognition as a hero by allowing him to have him buried in Libingan ng mga Bayani?”
She asserted: “Making Marcos a hero by burying him in Libingan ng mga Bayani despite a history of thievery and corruption is a betrayal of the Filipino people’s historical struggle against martial rule and repression.” For Rosales, the revolutionary Left’s agreeing to a hero’s burial for Marcos is a “sell-out, a cop-out.”
That infuriated Sison. Let me quote parts of his rejoinder, which appears on his blog. The title itself is virulent: “Etta Rosales is a consistent traitor to the revolutionary movement.”
Sison brands Rosales as a ”consistent traitor by collaborating in the unjust imprisonment of hundreds of political prisoners on trumped up charges…” How Rosales “collaborated in the unjust imprisonment of hundreds of political prisoners,” presumably in her capacity as Chair of the CHR, is incomprehensible to me. But this is not Sison’s main point though it serves as a launching pad to attack Rosales.
Says Sison: “She is peddling the notion that the Libingan ng mga Bayani is a cemetery of real heroes and not of many traitors, like the mercenaries belonging to the US Allied Forces of the Far East (USAFFE) and the reactionary armed forces of the Philippines…”
I disagree. The Filipinos soldiers under USAFFE are heroes in the same way that the members of the communist Hukbalahap, as Sison correctly points out, are heroes. They all fought in the patriotic war against Japanese aggression, and they all deserve the honor. At least, Josef Stalin, whom Sison admires, recognized the contribution of the soldiers of the imperialist US, UK, and other countries that formed an alliance with the communists in defeating fascism in World War II.
Sison insists that Rosales misread his statement on the issue of Marcos’s burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. He reiterates: “The Marcos family should keep the remains of Marcos in Ilocos Norte where these are better guarded by his followers than at the Libingan. They should remember that the big bust of Marcos along the highway to Baguio City was successfully blown up by his so many victims.” At the same time, he acknowledges that the decision of President-elect Duterte to bury Marcos at Libingan will not upset the peace talks.
But what really is most repulsive, most obscene, is Sison calling Rosales a traitor. Regardless of the possible misreading of Sison’s statement, the affront Rosales received is inexcusable.
Rosales uses strong terms in her statement like “cop-out” and “sell-out,” to describe, rightly or wrongly, what she perceives as Sison’s idea and plan of action. That’s par for the course in a debate. On the other hand, Sison attacks the vey person of Rosales.
Worse, Sison spits on the grave of Etta Rosales’s father. Full of scorn and disrespect, Sison dishes out the profanity that Etta’s father was one of the mercenaries, and that “Marcos deserves to be with Etta’s father in the same cemetery of traitors.” Sison does not spare the dead, the innocent dead, from his venom.
What Sison has said cannot be described merely as caustic. They are foul. Flagrantly foul.
Etta Rosales is a woman of peace. She won’t wish Sison ill.
Sison is an atheist, but I offer him this verse from the Bible (Colossians 3:8): “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.”
Filomeno S. Sta. Ana III coordinates the Action for Economic Reforms.