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Contemporary Politics Vol. 15, No. 4, December 2009, 377–393

Politics Vol. 15, No. 4, December 2009, 377–393 Ashes from the phoenix: state terrorism and the

Ashes from the phoenix: state terrorism and the party-list groups in the Philippines

William N. Holden

University of Calgary, Canada

An ongoing theme in Filipino history has been the exclusion of the left from electoral politics. Something that may provide an aperture facilitating left-wing participation are the provisions of the 1987 Constitution providing for the election, based on proportional representation, of representatives from traditionally marginalized sectors of society. Since the implementation of these provisions, six party-list groups have become the visible face of the left in Philippine politics. However, since 2001, the Philippines have experienced a wave of assassinations targeting leftists. These killings, an emulation of the Phoenix Program implemented by the United States in Vietnam, are designed to destroy organizations used as ‘fronts’ by the Communist Party of the Philippines and the progressive party-list groups have been specifically targeted. These killings, and the fear they generate, are an example of state terrorism and, eventually, will prove themselves to be flawed counterinsurgency doctrine because, by precluding left-wing participation in electoral politics, they force the left into armed opposition.

Keywords: Philippines; party-list groups; state terrorism; counterinsurgency

Introduction On 17 July 2007 Charlie Solayao, a 52-year-old fish vendor, was shot and killed in Tacloban City, on the island of Leyte, by unidentified gunmen while waiting for a ride to the fish port (Papa and Labro 2007). Solayao had been a member of the political party Anakpawis, a left- wing political party representing workers and the urban poor; 2 weeks before his death, Solayao had been visited by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) who told him to cease his political activities (Papa and Labro 2007). The killing of Solayao is represen- tative of a problem occurring in the Philippines: the killings of members of the progressive party- list groups by what are widely believed to be members of the AFP. This article examines the phenomenon of the extrajudicial killings of members of the progressive party-list groups and poses the question: are these killings an example of the exclusion of the left from politics in the Philippines? Relying on semistructured interviews conducted in the Philippines, the UK and the Netherlands in 2007 (and an examination of secondary sources), it is argued in this article that these killings are a manifestation of state terrorism, which is denying political access to large proportions of the left in the Philippines.

William N. Holden, an inactive member of the Law Society of Alberta, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography /Programme of Environmental Science at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Dr Holden conducts research on counter-hegemonic development discourses in the developing world (specifically the Philippines), state terrorism and counterinsurgency warfare. Email:

wnholden@ucalgary.ca

ISSN 1356-9775 print/ISSN 1469-3631 online # 2009 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/13569770903416422 http://www.informaworld.com

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Theoretical framework State terrorism ‘Terrorism’ can be defined as ‘deeds and statements, material practices and discourses, enacted policies and pronouncements, which are meant to terrify’ (Pred 2007, p. 363). Although much of the discussion surrounding terrorism pertains to acts committed by non-state actors (such as Al Qaeda), an important dimension of terrorism is the concept of state terrorism, which is terror implemented by those in control of institutions of power who resort to violence to exert control (Menjivar and Rodriguez 2005). To Heryanto (2006), state terrorism, one of the most dangerous and prevalent kinds of terrorism, is a series of state-sponsored campaigns inducing widespread fear throughout the population; it has five aspects and these aspects are set out in Table 1. Some notable examples of state terrorism are: the purge of the Communist Party of Indonesia in the 1960s (Heryanto 2006); the Argentine military’s ‘dirty war’ against leftists during the 1970s (Pion-Berlin 1991, Armony 2005); and the brutal extirpation of entire Mayan communities by the Guatemalan government during the early 1980s (Torres 2005). Arguably the most important aspect of state terrorism is the reproduction of fear among both the target population and the general population (Menjivar and Rodriguez 2005, Heryanto 2006). ‘State terrorism’, wrote Schmid (1991, p. 31), occurs when people are victimized by the state ‘so that others, who have reason to identify with those murdered, will despair, obey, or comply’. Often the members of the target population selected for killing are not prominent members of the target group; this is a target selection deliberately designed to give other members of that group the impression that ‘anyone could be next’ and to give members of the general population the impression that any participation in the undesired activity can have fatal consequences (Heryanto 2006).

State terrorism and counterinsurgency Egregious acts of state terrorism, such as those committed in Argentina and Guatemala, often occur as a corollary to a counterinsurgency campaign engaged in by the state. ‘Insurgency’ is ‘an organized movement aimed at the overthrow of a constituted government through the use of subversion and armed conflict’; ‘counterinsurgency’ is ‘military, paramilitary, political, econ- omic, psychological, and civic action taken by a government to defeat insurgency’ (United States Army and United States Marine Corps 2007, p. 2). While insurgents seek the overthrow of the existing social order, and a reallocation of power within the state, counterinsurgents seek

Table 1.

The five aspects of state terrorism.

Aspect

What it entails

Severely violent actions Severely violent actions conducted by state agents, or their proxies, generates fear

Primary victims

Actions are directed against selected individual citizens

Target population

Representatives of one or more social groups which are often

Fear and uncertainty among the target population

publicly targeted are selected as targets Victimization of the selected individuals, their representative status, and the motives for the violence are publically exposed in order to

Reproduction of fear among the general population

spread fear and uncertainty among the wider target group against whom similar violence can take place in an unpredictable future Reproduction and elaboration by the general public of the image of violence and intense fear

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the consent of the populace to the government and a cessation of the population’s support for the insurgency (United States Army and United States Marine Corps 2007). State terrorism occurs within the context of counterinsurgency as it is designed ‘to inhibit the insurgents’ ability to mobilize mass support by creating fear among the population’ (Armony 2005, p. 320). One of the best examples of such a counterinsurgency campaign was the Phoenix Program initiated by the United Sates in Vietnam. During the Vietnam War, the United States decided that the most effective method of defeating the Viet Cong lay with attacking its political infrastruc- ture (Andrade 1990, Andrade and Willbanks 2006). The United States could engage the Viet Cong militarily but as long as the Viet Cong were able to maintain constant contact with the population they could continue advancing their Communist revolution and could never be defeated (Andrade 1990, Andrade and Willbanks 2006). Accordingly, the solution to this impasse lay with the destruction of the Viet Cong political infrastructure: its presence among the people (Andrade 1990, Andrade and Willbanks 2006). To achieve this, the Phoenix Program, a well-developed programme of selective assassinations, was implemented in 1968 and resulted in over 23,000 deaths until its cessation in 1972 (Andrade 1990, Andrade and Will- banks, 2006). The Phoenix Program was emulated by US military advisers to El Salvador in the early 1980s when the Salvadorian military sought to suppress the Frente Farabundo Martı´ para la Liberacio´n Nacional (Farabundo Martı´ National Liberation Front) by eliminating rebel leaders and sympathizers (Lauria-Santiago 2005, Andrade and Willbanks 2006). General Paul Gorman, the commander of US forces in Central America during the 1980s, described Phoenix-like programmes as ‘a form of warfare repugnant to Americans, a conflict which involves innocents, in which non-combatant casualties may be an explicit objective’ (Lauria-Santiago 2005, p. 101). Eventually, by the early 1990s, the destruction of insurgent infrastructure had become an established component of American counterinsurgency doctrine. As the United States Army and United States Air Force (1990, p. E-2) wrote in their Military operations in low intensity conflict field manual :

In order for the government to address the causes of insurgency through balanced development, it must also protect the people from insurgent violence and separate them from insurgent control. This requires rendering the insurgent leadership and organization ineffective by persuasion, prose- cution, or destruction. Denied its infrastructure, the insurgent organization will lack direction and sources of personnel, material, and intelligence. The insurgent tactical forces will be cut off, forced to fight on the government’s terms, and vulnerable to disintegration.

This field manual warned of how insurgents will form political parties in an attempt to ‘penetrate the political structure to control it and use it for their own purposes’ (United States Army and United States Air Force 1990, pp. 2–5), use fronts as ‘groups for intelligence, logistics, and recruiting requirements’ (United States Army and United States Air Force 1990, p. D-4), and it highlighted the importance of ‘neutralizing’ insurgents through ‘physically or psychologically separating insurgents from the people, converting their members, disrupting their organization, or capturing or killing them’ (United States Army and United States Air Force 1990, p. E-2).

The extrajudicial killings of members of party-list groups in the Philippines The left in Filipino politics: on the outside looking in The Philippines, an archipelago of approximately 7,000 islands in Southeast Asia, has a long history of excluding the left from its polity (Coronel et al. 2007, Hutchcroft 2008, Quimpo 2009). The Spanish colonizers of the archipelago transformed the pre-colonial datus (chieftains) and maharlikas (nobles), along with Spanish and Chinese mestizos, into a privileged local class known as the principalia, who accumulate land, wealth and economic power (Quimpo 2009). While a small number of Filipinos became prosperous, the vast majority of the population

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became serfs, mired in poverty and burdened with onerous taxes; this led to agrarian unrest, which exploded into a continuous sequence of uprisings and revolts across the archipelago (Agoncillo 1990). On the island of Bohol, for example, the Spanish lost control of the island from 1744 until 1829 and throughout this 85-year period Bohol achieved de facto independence from Spain (Constantino 1975). In 1896, under the leadership of Andres Bonifacio (a man of lower-middle-class origins) and his Katipunan society, full-scale revolt erupted against Spain, but this revolution was soon taken over by Emilio Aguinaldo (a member of the principalia ), who had Bonifacio killed, and the revolution against Spain became a revolution against Spanish control of the archipelago and lost any pretence of being a revolution capable of remak- ing Philippine society (Constantino 1975, Agoncillo 1990, Silbey, 2007). When the Filipino– American War broke out (after the United States transformed its military intervention in the islands from an adjunct of the Spanish–American War into a quest for an Asian colony) Agui- naldo attempted to lead an insurgency against the Americans, but they co-opted the principalia in order to woo them away from struggle against the United States and, in so doing, transformed them from being just an economic elite into a powerful political and economic elite that continues to wield power today (Hutchcroft 2008). ‘The Americans’, wrote Agoncillo (1990, p. 444), placed at the helm of government ‘the class which learned from and inherited the Spanish colonial’s technique of mass exploitation’. During the American colonial period (1902–46), ‘democracy’ was installed but was sharply circumscribed by a requirement for property ownership eliminated only in 1935 (Quimpo 2009). By the time the franchise was widely expanded in the late colonial period ‘the dominance of the national oligarchy was so well-entrenched that challenges from below faced monumental odds’ (Hutchcroft 2008, p. 142). In 1924, a young labour leader named Crisanto Evangelista sought the Nacionalista Party nomination as a councillor from Manila but lost to less radical candidates in a system reserved for those with land and money (Coronel et al. 2007). Frustrated, Evangelista quit the Nacionalista Party and went on to form the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (Communist Party of the Philippines, or PKP) in 1930, which was then declared an illegal association in 1932 (Agoncillo 1990). During the World War II Japanese occupation of the Philippines (1942–45) the PKP became instrumental in the formation of the Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon (People’s Anti-Japanese Army, or Hukbalahap), which became the most powerful and effective resistance movement during the Japanese occupation (Constantino and Constantino 1978, Agoncillo 1990). In 1946, as the Philippines achieved independence from the United States, a group consisting of members of the Hukbalahap and the Pambansang Kaisahan ng mga Magbubukid (National Peasants Union) won seats in the House of Representatives as the ‘Democratic Alliance’ (Coronel et al. 2007). The Democratic Alliance sought to address problems such as poverty, agrarian unrest, and the development of a weak economy dependent on the United States (Kerkvliet 1977, Constantino and Constantino 1978). However, when the members of the Demo- cratic Alliance sought to take their seats in the House of Representatives they were prevented from doing so, and this gave rise to the Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan (Army of National Liberation, or HMB) uprising (Kerkvliet 1977, Coronel et al. 2007). In 1987, after the fall of the Marco dictatorship (1972–86), and the ostensible restoration of democracy, members of the left formed the Alliance of New Politics – Partido ng Bayan (ANP-PnB) and fielded seven candidates for the Senate, as well as a small number of candidates for the House of Representatives (Coronel et al. 2007). Within months of the elections of May 1987, two of the ANP-PnB candidates were gunned down (Coronel et al. 2007). All through Philippine history from the Katipunan to the twenty-first century the Philippines has been marked by conflict between groups representing the poor and the marginalized, on the one hand, and the forces of the rich and powerful, on the other. The constant keeping this conflict going has been the exclusion of the left from electoral politics. There have been occasions

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(1924, 1946 and 1987) where the left have attempted forays into electoral politics, but the response of reactionary forces has led them to return to the hills and ‘become part of the mass tradition of the oppressed dating to the days of the remontados of Spanish times’ (Constan- tino 1975, p. 257).

The party-list system: an aperture for the left? One thing that could serve as a vehicle for the left to have access to the political system is the party- list system. After the February 1986 ‘People Power’ revolution replaced President Ferdinand Marco with President Corazon Aquino there was a short-lived, but highly influential period of ‘democratic space’. ‘The restoration of elite democracy brought about a formal restoration of pol- itical rights and a widening of the democratic space’ (Alternative Law Research and Development Center 2000, p. 244). ‘A “democratic space” was created as democratic rights were restored including the right to organize, to free assembly, to participate in elections, and to a free press’ (Melegrito and Mendoza 1999, p. 239). One of the most tangible manifestations of this ‘democratic space’ was Article VI of the 1987 Constitution, which provided for the creation of the party-list groups; political parties representing various traditionally marginalized sectors such as workers, peasants, the urban poor, indigenous peoples and the youth. The Aquino presidency was a tumul- tuous period (Aquino was busy attempting to implement agrarian reform, engaging in peace talks with various armed anti-state groups, and trying to contend with a military containing many Marcos loyalists) and it was not until 1995 that congress was able to fulfil the requirements of Article VI of the 1987 Constitution by passing Republic Act No. 7941, the Party-list System Act. The Party-list System Act provided for the first election under the party-list system to take no later than May 1998; before this date Sectoral representatives were appointed by the president (Melegrito and Mendoza 1999). Party-list groups were to be entitled to 20% of all seats in the House of Representatives and the parties would receive one seat for each 2% of the vote they received, with additional seats being distributed in proportion to their total number of votes received, with each party to receive no more than three seats (Melegrito and Mendoza 1999, Hutchcroft 2008). The Party-list System Act also provided for each party-list representative to be entitled to the same salary and emoluments as regular members of the House of Represen- tatives (Coronel et al. 2007). This ensures that they have access to a 65 m-peso-per-year Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), an amount equivalent to approximately US$1.3 m (at 2009 exchange rates), which can be used for development projects (Coronel et al. 2007). These funds (euphemistically referred to as ‘pork barrel funds’) give party-list representatives access to funding that may be used to further their political agendas, something previously acces- sible only to traditional politicians (Coronel et al. 2007). The first election for party-list representatives was held in 1998 and, with the Commission on Elections unsure how to interpret the Party-list System Act, many seats remained unfilled (Coronel et al. 2007). In the second election for party-list representatives in 2001, the left fielded a party entitled Bayan Muna ( Bayan Muna means ‘nation first’ in Tagalog) and received 1.7 million votes and the maximum three seats (Coronel et al. 2007). According to Jun Saturay (personal communication, 11 November 2007), a former Provincial Chair of Bayan Muna on the island of Mindoro, Bayan Muna is a patriotic political party trying to reform society by imple- menting a programme of land reform and by serving as the voice of the people; it provides a chance for the poor to participate in congress in a non-violent manner and offers an opportunity for peaceful struggle. In the 2004 elections (mindful of the fact that almost half of the 1.7 million votes Bayan Muna had received in the 2001 election had gone to waste as Bayan Muna reached the three- seat maximum with its first 850,000 votes) Bayan Muna split into three other parties: Anakpawis,

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representing workers and the urban poor; Gabriela, representing women; and Migrante, representing overseas Filipino workers (Coronel et al. 2007). As a result of the 2007 elections there are currently 49 party-list representatives; Bayan Muna has three while Anakpawis and Gabriela each have two. These four party-list parties, along with Anakbayan (a party represent- ing the youth) and Suara (a party representing Muslims), constitute the six major ‘progressive’, or ‘left-wing’, party-list groups (International Coordinating Secretariat of the Permanent People’s Tribunal and IBON Books 2007). ‘Together they [have become] known for champion- ing the rights and welfare of the marginalized sectors of the country’ (International Coordinating Secretariat of the Permanent People’s Tribunal and IBON Books 2007, p. 39).

Extrajudicial killings in the Philippines Extrajudicial killings are by no means something new in the Philippines and they have gone on since the Marcos presidency (Tolentino and Raymundo 2006). Extrajudicial killings are also something that is not confined to people involved in political activism; as demonstrated by the killing of street children, petty criminals and drug dealers in Davao City (Alston 2007, 2009, Human Rights Watch 2009). However, since 2001 there has been what Hutchcroft (2008, p. 141) called ‘an alarming spike in extrajudicial killings’ wherein over 1,000 unarmed leftist activists have been killed (Karapatan 2008, Pratt 2008, Quimpo 2009). Most of the killings seem to follow a methodology similar to that employed in the killing of Solayao: the victims are shot while carrying out routine activities by men on motorcycles (often wearing balaclava ski masks); after being shot, nothing is taken from them and they are left to die (Amnesty International 2006, Human Rights Watch 2007). According to the Mello Commission (2007, p. 5), an independent commission created by the government to address the killings, ‘victims were generally unarmed, alone, or in small groups, and were gunned down by two or more masked or hooded assailants, oftentimes riding motorcycles’. The audacious nature of these attacks indicates that the assailants had little fear of any police reaction (Human Rights Now 2008). According to the Mello Commission (2007, p. 5), ‘These were assassination or ambush type killings, professional hits carried out quickly and with the assailants escaping with impunity’. According to Girlie Padilla (personal communication, 3 June 2007), the International Liaison Officer of Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights), the victims tend to be members of organizations on the left of the political spectrum. Audrey Beltran (personal communication, 30 May 2007), the Public Information Officer of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance, indicated that those killed tend to belong to progressive organizations, such as peasant groups or labour groups. Santos Mero (personal communication, 31 May 2007), the Deputy Secretary General of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, made it clear that the victims tend to be activists and that ‘the more vocal people are, the more vulnerable they become’. In the words of Human Rights Now (2008, p. 6), ‘The majority of targets are people who are lawfully criticizing governmental policies by means of peaceful measures such as speeches, writing, and mobilizing people’. Often, before being killed, they receive death threats indicating that they are going to be killed (International Coordinating Secretariat of the Permanent People’s Tribunal and IBON Books 2007). There is a widespread consensus that these killings can be attributed to the government (in general) and to the AFP (in particular). Amnesty International (2006, p. 2) is of the view that, instead of these killings being a series of murders carried out by criminals, these killings ‘con- stitute a pattern of politically targeted extrajudicial executions’. Amnesty International (2006, p. 2) uses the term ‘extrajudicial executions’ because these killings are ‘unlawful and deliberate killings carried out by order of a government or with its complicity or acquiescence’. Human

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Rights Watch (2007, p. 25) similarly held the state responsible, concluding that ‘our research, based on accounts from eyewitnesses and victims’ families, found that members of the AFP were responsible for many of the recent unlawful killings’. Patricio Abinales, at Kyoto Univer- sity’s Centre for Southeast Asian Studies, concluded ‘agreement is widespread that the killings have AFP written all over them’ (Abinales 2007, p. 315). Members of the progressive party-list groups have not been exempt from these attacks and, since 2001, 202 of their members have been killed and the most heavily targeted party has been Bayan Muna, accounting for roughly two-thirds of victims (Karapatan 2008). The Bayan Muna offices have been raided by the AFP, fired upon, and even burned down (International Coordinating Secretariat of the Permanent People’s Tribunal and IBON Books 2007). On the island of Samar, the Bayan Muna office in Northern Samar had a Molotov cocktail (with an AFP newsletter for its wick) hurled at it and the Bayan Muna office in Eastern Samar was burned down (International Coordinating Secretariat of the Permanent People’s Tribunal and IBON Books 2007).

The blueprint for the killings: Operational Plan Bantay Laya The genesis of these killings has been the conflict between the AFP and the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New Peoples Army (NPA). The CPP remains the most organized political opposition in the country (Quimpo 2009), and with approximately 7,000 armed cadres and a nationwide presence, the NPA is considered the most serious threat to the security of the Philippines (Rutten 2008). Since December 1968 when the CPP was re- established (along Maoist lines and replaced the old PKP), this conflict has claimed over 40,000 lives and appears to be a war that shows no sign of any pending conclusion (Rutten 2008). The NPA is also depicted by the government as an obstacle to economic development because of its practice of extracting ‘revolutionary taxes’ from businesses. The NPA will approach businesses and demand they pay ‘revolutionary taxes’ to support the ‘peoples’ govern- ment’; should these businesses fail to pay ‘revolutionary taxes’ their facilities are sometimes destroyed and, on some occasions, their security personnel have been killed (Hernandez 2005). To eliminate the NPA, the AFP implemented Operational Plan (OPLAN) Bantay Laya (Freedom Watch) in 2002 (Tolentino and Raymundo 2006). Operational Plan Bantay Laya is a plan designed to strike at what the AFP considers the legal, above ground, organizations used by the NPA as a mass-base for its armed underground activities (Tolentino and Raymundo 2006). The blueprint for such a plan comes from the influence on the AFP of its former colonial master: the United States (Tolentino and Raymundo 2006). The AFP has been described as ‘more oriented toward and influenced by the United States than the armed forces of any other country in the developing world’ (Thompson 1996, p. 66). ‘In postwar decades, virtually all senior Filipino officers would receive their advanced training in the United States’ (McCoy 1999, p. 27). Alamon (2006, p. 153) stated that the AFP is ‘steep in United States support, strat- egies, and tactics’. Since the advent of the ‘War on Terror’, the extent of United States influence on the AFP has increased substantially; between 2000 and 2004, the United States allocated US$180 m in military assistance to the Philippines (United States Government Accountability Office 2005). The vast majority of American aid and assistance to the AFP was provided with little, or no, monitoring to ensure that human rights were being respected by the AFP (Amnesty International USA 2002, United States Government Accountability Office 2005). Amnesty International USA (2002) asked Pacific Command, the integrated command in the US military with responsibility for the Philippines, for information on its human rights policy, and no response was provided.

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Today there are many who hold the view that the AFP is set on eliminating the NPA by replicating the Phoenix Program and targeting not just the underground guerrilla organizations, and their rural mass bases, but also the legal organizations alleged to be ‘communist fronts’ (Tolentino and Raymundo 2006). To the International Coordinating Secretariat of the Permanent People’s Tribunal and IBON Books (2007, p. 147), what is unfolding today in the Philippines ‘evokes memories of Operation Phoenix conceived by the Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency during the Vietnam War’. To Revelli (2008, p. 8), the AFP has copied its counterinsur- gency doctrine ‘from the Phoenix Program that the United States used during the Vietnam War. They target suspected civilian support for rebel groups’. In the words of Alamon (2006, p. 164):

Some sectors see the hand of the United States in these counterinsurgency tactics since it is reminis- cent of the counterinsurgency operations in Vietnam dubbed as OPLAN Phoenix. Identified peasants suspected of being sympathetic to the Vietcong were liquidated to effect fear in the community and discourage support for the rebels.

Possibly the best evidence of the influence of the Phoenix Program on the AFP comes from the frequent use by the AFP of the word ‘neutralize’ in its discussion of how it intends to eliminate the NPA. ‘Operations under the Phoenix Program sought to target and neutralize members of the Viet Cong infrastructure’ (Andrade and Willbanks 2006, p. 18). In his testimony before the Mello Commission (2007, p. 14), AFP Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon stated ‘the AFP aims to neutralize the leaders of the guerrilla front, who are bona fide members of the NPA’. Regarding the use of this word, the Mello Commission (2007, p. 54) concluded:

As admitted by Gen. Esperon and Gen. Palparan themselves, the armed forces considers the so-called left wing and some party list organizations, and their members, “enemies of the state,” who should be “neutralized.” They qualify their statement by stating that the word “neutralize” does not necessarily mean killing, but should be taken in the context of their holistic approach to the war on communism – that is, to include socio-civic and other works designed to bring communist rebels back to the fold of the law and thus “neutralize” their threat. Nonetheless, the fact that certain elements in the military would take the more direct approach to “neutralizing” the enemy cannot be discounted. General Palparan, for one, stated that he cannot categorically deny the possibility that some of his men may have been behind some of the killings.

Father Frank Nally (personal communication, 8 November 2007), an Irish Priest who spent 9 years as a missionary on the island of Mindanao, believes that what is happening in the Philippines is an example of the way the United States has trained militaries to conduct counter- insurgency warfare. According to Kelly Delgado (personal communication, 28 June 2007), the Karapatan Representative for Southern Mindanao, the policy under OPLAN Bantay Laya is to eliminate the NPA by eliminating its legal fronts. In Girlie Padilla’s opinion (personal communi- cation, 3 June 2007), the AFP has taken the view that those they kill are ‘part of the NPA at night, and activists by day’. ‘The root cause of the extrajudicial killings’, wrote Human Rights Now (2008, p. 81), is a ‘counterinsurgency policy which does not differentiate between the NPA, armed rebels, and legal organizations and activists’. In the words of Pratt (2008, p. 755), ‘This is a study of low-intensity warfare currently directed towards civilians’. In 2005, the AFP strategy of targeting the progressive party-list groups became apparent when a compact disc prepared by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security was leaked to the public (Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security 2005). On this compact disc was a power point presentation entitled ‘Knowing the enemy: are we missing the point?’ (Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security 2005). This presentation listed a number of organizations considered to be ‘front organ- izations’ of the CPP-NPA and all six of the progressive party-list groups were included (Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security 2005). In his testimony before the Mello Commission, General Esperon confirmed the existence of this presentation and the fact that it explicitly

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Table 2.

forces of the Philippines.

The party-list framework of the Communist Party of the Philippines, according to the armed

Party-list group

Target sector of group

Task of the group

Bayan Muna

The middle classes of society

Consolidate and expand the broad united front and establish a broad alliance

Anakpawis

Workers and the urban poor Consolidate and establish a basic alliances among workers and the urban poor

Anakbayan

Students and the youth

Install a revolutionary mind-set among the youth

Gabriella

Women Consolidate and establish a progressive alliance that includes women’s’ issues

Suara

Muslims

Consolidate the alliance between the New Peoples

Migrante

Army and the Moro Islamic Revolutionary Front Overseas Filipino workers Consolidate an international network

Source: Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security (2005).

accuses progressive leftist organizations of being fronts for the CPP-NPA (Mello Commission 2007). In Table 2 the interpretation of each party’s target sector and task, according to ‘Knowing the enemy’, is provided (Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security 2005). According to Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Executions, many senior government officials (who themselves are often former AFP officers) stated that they consider these parties to be ‘part of the insurgency’ (Alston 2007, p. 18). In the words of National Security Advisor Norberto Gonzales, ‘We are no longer dealing with a traditional guerrilla campaign; these guerrillas have infiltrated our democratic process’ (Revelli 2008, p. 8). The allegation that these parties are ‘fronts’ of the CPP-NPA is controversial; during the 2001 elections, there were reports that the NPA was campaigning for Bayan Muna and other party-list groups were being intimidated by the NPA (Coronel et al. 2007, Hutchcroft 2008). Studies on politics in the archipelago have reported that the platform of Bayan Muna is ‘almost identical’ to that of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), an umbrella organization containing the CPP and the NPA (as well as several other left-wing groups); ‘its pronouncements echo that of the CPP, and it has failed to strike its own position on issues’ (Coronel et al. 2007, p. 226). Nevertheless, Satur Ocampo, the leader of Bayan Muna, strongly denies any affiliation with the NDFP (Coronel et al. 2007). Similarly, Luis Jalandoni (personal communication, 11 November 2007), a member of the National Executive Committee of the NDFP, also denies that any of the progressive party-list organizations are ‘fronts’ of the CPP. In any event, from a strict legal perspective, the issue of whether or not these parties are affiliated with the CPP should be irrelevant because the Anti-Subversion Act, Republic Act No. 1700, was repealed on 22 September 1992 by Republic Act No. 7636; consequently, it is no longer illegal to belong to the CPP (Alston 2007). It is not illegal for Filipinos to belong to the CPP, so if the progressive party-list groups were affiliated with the CPP they would not be breaking any law and, accordingly, there should be nothing wrong with them being affiliated with the CPP. To the AFP, the left-wing party-list groups pose a threat because their presence in congress could lead to legislation furthering the objectives of the CPP (Coronel et al. 2007). If these parties were to become ensconced in congress they could conduct propaganda against the AFP by holding hearings into alleged human rights abuses committed by the AFP and their representatives might even use their PDAF money to support the NPA; to the AFP, the CPP has moved from just a military struggle to a military and parliamentary struggle, and this dupli- cation has come with access to funding from PDAF money (Hernandez 2005, Alston 2007,

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Coronel et al. 2007). To the AFP, these parties are also easy targets; unlike armed NPA cadres, located in rural hinterlands, these activists are not located in stable base areas and present much ‘softer targets’ (Tolentino and Raymundo 2006). ‘The targets are no longer limited to the under- ground guerrilla organizations and their rural mass base but to the legal and open democratic organizations alleged to be “front organizations”’ (International Coordinating Secretariat of the Permanent People’s Tribunal and IBON Books 2007, p. 44). An important component of AFP doctrine has been its black propaganda against the pro- gressive party-list organizations. In ‘Knowing the enemy’, the Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security (2005) called for ‘special operations teams’ to carry out ‘black propaganda work’ against the parties; this demonizes them as ‘Communists’ and provides a reason for them to be attacked (Tolentino and Raymundo 2006). One way the AFP engages in black propaganda is by making signs declaring the parties to be Communists or by defacing the parties’ signs during elections, also declaring them to be Communists. Another way the AFP engages in black propaganda is by spreading rumours about individual members of the progressive party-list organizations. When Jun Saturay (personal communication, 11 November 2007) was the Provincial Chair of Bayan Muna on Mindoro he started receiving information that the AFP were telling people he was a ‘Communist’ and that he should not be invited to any speaking engagements; between these rumours, and the killings of several Bayan Muna members on Mindoro, Saturay eventually sought asylum in Holland.

The government’s response: an NPA internal purge The government is aware of the international attention drawn to the Philippines as a result of the killings (Alston 2007, 2009). As foreign commentators cannot be silenced, or killed, a government engaging in such activities must provide a counterargument to explain the events occurring within its territory (Heryanto 2006). In this case, the response of the government to the allegation that it is behind the killings is its claim that the killings are the result of a purge within the NPA and that cadres are killing each other (Amnesty International 2006, Human Rights Watch 2007, Human Rights Now 2008). This explanation has been advanced for the killings of members of the progress- ive party-list organizations. There have been at least nine instances when members of Bayan Muna have been killed and the government has claimed that these killings were evidence of an NPA internal purge; similarly, there have also been at least three instances when members of Anakpawis have been killed, and the government has claimed that these killings were evidence of an NPA internal purge (National Democratic Front of the Philippines 2007). The government offers this explanation because, at various times (and in various places) during the 1980s, the NPA (concerned that AFP agents had infiltrated it) conducted an internal purge costing the lives of hundreds of its own members (Garcia 2001, Abinales 2008). Accord- ing to some in the government, the NPA is again displaying its tendency to engage in intramural violence, and this explains what it calls the ‘unexplained killings’. Activists concerned about the killings reject this assertion outright. Sister Crescencia Lucero, the Executive Director of Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (a non-governmental organization (NGO) engaged in human rights advocacy), bluntly stated (personal communication, 29 May 2007), ‘This is a very lame excuse’; this is a diversion and the state is behind the killings. Girlie Padilla (personal communi- cation, 3 June 2007) rejects this explanation for two reasons: first, this is an excuse ventured by the AFP to deflect attention away from the fact that they are carrying out the killings; second, the victims are not members of the NPA. Father Frank Nally (personal communication, 8 November 2007) is of the view that the government should prove that the killings are an NPA internal purge, if this is indeed the case, instead of simply attributing the killings to this explanation and then doing nothing further to resolve the issue.

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Professor Jose Maria Sison, a former English professor from the University of the Philippines, was the founder of the re-established CPP and the NPA; today Sison serves as the Chief Political Consultant of the Negotiating Panel of the NDFP. Sison (personal interview, 10 November 2007), who was imprisoned by the government from 1977 to 1986 (and consequently denies any responsibility for the purges), views them as having been a ‘bloody witch hunt’. Although he is no longer involved in any leadership capacity with the NPA, Sison categorically denies that the current rash of killings is an NPA internal purge. According to Sison, what is happening today is not another ‘bloody witch hunt’. If the NPA is conducting another internal purge, why does the AFP often indicate the person in advance on their order of battle? Why is it that the victims are placed under close surveillance by the AFP and denounced as enemies of the state? Also, why is it that a considerable number of extrajudicial killings occur near military camps and police stations? Although the NPA does indeed kill people, there are striking differences between how it kills people and the way in which members of the party-list groups are being killed. First, the NPA will issue statements indicating that someone has been found guilty by a ‘peoples’ court’ and owes a ‘blood debt to the revolutionary movement’ (Alston 2007). Then, after they have been killed, the NPA will issue a statement claiming responsibility for their death. As Human Rights Watch (2007, p. 72) wrote, ‘The NPA is typically vocal when it does in fact kill’. If the extrajudicial killings were the result of an NPA internal purge one would be hearing statements from the NPA accepting responsibility for most of these killings. The fact that such statements are not being made tends to dispel this explanation. ‘Experts on the NPA have found no evidence that large-scale intra-NPA killings have persisted beyond the early 1990s, and that the current killings do not reflect the typical pattern of killings by the NPA’ (Human Rights Watch 2007, p. 71).

Discussion The killings as state terrorism Although orders of magnitude lower than the killings in Indonesia, Argentina, or Guatemala, the killings of members of the progressive party-list parties in the Philippines are state terrorism. State terrorism is as much a quality of violence as it is a quantity of violence; ‘terror may prevail’, wrote Heryanto (2006, p. 62), ‘without constant and widespread violence on a major scale’. Table 1 stipulated the five aspects of state terrorism, according to Heryanto (2006). The essential quality of state terrorism is the reproduction of fear among the target population and among the general population. This is what is happening in the Philippines as victims see their group listed as a ‘Communist front’, or hear black propaganda circulating about them being ‘a Communist’ (as Saturay did), or receive death threats before their death (as Solayao did). If the government only wanted to kill these people there would be no need to give them any advance warning. However, when someone hears black propaganda about them, or is sent a death threat, they are given an opportunity to tell others that they have been targeted. When they are killed, their death sends a clear signal to others that such threats are serious. The violence inherent in state terrorism ‘is differentiated from violence whose primary motives, targets, or effects are the physical harm or material destruction of the victims’ (Heryanto 2006, p. 20). This proliferation of fear has been observed in the archipelago. In his testimony before the Subcommittee for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, Bishop Elizer M. Pascua testified that no one could claim they are not afraid, and the killings have had ‘a chilling effect among the people’ (Pascua 2007, p. 2). ‘The killings reverberate through- out survivors’ lives as psychological trauma’ (Pratt 2008, p. 766). In the Philippines, there is ‘a

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military “terror system” in operation’ (Pratt 2008, p. 754). To Jun Saturay (personal communi- cation, 11 November 2007), ‘The extrajudicial killings are the definition of “state terrorism”’.

Operation Plan Bantay Laya: a flawed counterinsurgency template? Perhaps the ultimate irony of Operational Plan Bantay Laya is that it may be self-defeating because its human rights abuses create more opposition to the state than it eliminates. Although this is a point made in the state terrorism literature (Lauria-Santiago 2005), this is also a point made in the counterinsurgency warfare literature. In recent years (largely as a result of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq) there has been an upsurge in interest in counterinsurgency warfare. ‘Counterinsurgency is fashionable again: more has been written on it in the last four years than in the last four decades’ (Kilcullen 2006a, p. 111). An important part of this new interest in counterinsurgency has been the development, under the supervision of General David Petraeus, of the United States Army and United States Marine Corps Counterinsurgency field manual . This field manual constitutes a paradigm shift in counterinsurgency thinking (Sewall 2007a). Instead of relying on a paradigm such as the Phoenix Program, which emphasizes the destruction of insurgent infrastructure, the new field manual ‘adopts a population-centered approach instead of one focused primarily, if not exclu- sively, on the insurgents’ (Sewall 2007a, p. xxiv). A central principle of the new field manual is that the population must not be abused. ‘Security forces that abuse civilians do not win the populace’s trust and confidence; they may even be a cause of the insurgency’ (United States Army and United States Marine Corps (2007, p. 202). The counterinsurgent must redress ‘the social, political, and economic grievances that fuel the insurgency’ and, above all, ‘illegitimate actions’, such as ‘unjustified or excessive use of force, unlawful detention, torture, and punishment without trial’ must be avoided (United States Army and United States Marine Corps 2007, p. 42). Two examples of such population-centric counterinsurgency can be gleaned from Filipino history. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the United States found itself engaged in counter- insurgency operations against the Filipinos under Aguinaldo (Silbey 2007). Although American forces did engage in human rights abuses, most notably General Jacob Smith’s order to turn the island of Samar into a ‘howling wilderness’ (and to kill every male inhabitant of that island over the age of 10), the Americans were able to win over the principalia by implementing ‘a passable strategy that emphasized enhancing political institutions, public works, and services’ (Hoffman 2005, p. 920). These efforts ‘had the essential effect of sucking necessary oxygen out of the revolution’ (Silbey 2007, p. 184). Then, in the late 1940s, as the HMB revolt broke out in the Philippines, Defence Secretary (and later President) Ramon Magsaysay engaged in efforts, under the tutelage of Colonel Edward Lansdale (a Central Intelligence Agency operative), to defeat the HMB by simul- taneously acting to ameliorate the conditions of the peasantry, from which the HMB drew its members, as well as crushing them militarily. In the words of Agoncillo (1990, p. 458):

President Magsaysay, an avowed lover of the ‘little people,’ toured the barrios, kissed children and old women, and heartily pumped the hands of the peasants. He continued his policy of attraction, at the same time resorting to the mailed fist policy in an attempt to completely break the Huk movement.

One of the most famous efforts undertaken by Magsaysay was the resettlement of landless people from Luzon to public lands on Mindanao; the intent was ‘to steal from the PKP and the HMB the idea of “land for the landless” with a well-publicized experiment that was more than the Huk movement itself had been able to do’ (Kerkvliet 1977, p. 239). As Galula (1964, p. 13) wrote:

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Land reform looked like a promising cause to the Hukbalahap after the defeat of Japan and the acces- sion of the Philippines to independence; but when the government offered land to the Huks’ actual and potential supporters, the insurgents lost their cause and the game.

Unfortunately, today under OPLAN Bantay Laya , the AFP does not appear to be engaging in a population-centric counterinsurgency. There appears to be no effort to win the trust and confi- dence of the people; as San Juan (2006, p. 7) wrote, ‘Certainly, “winning hearts and minds” is far from the minds of the heirs of Ramon Magsaysay and Colonel Edward Lansdale’. There also appears to be no aversion to illegitimate actions; as the Mello Commission (2007, p. 79) wrote in an admonishment of the AFP, ‘While communist insurgency must be addressed, the fight against it must not be at the expense of the Constitution and the laws of the nation, and it hardly needs emphasizing, not at the expense of innocent civilians’. Counterinsurgency is a competition between the insurgent and the counterinsurgent for the population; to win this competition, the counterinsurgent does not necessarily need to be liked by the population but it must be respected and a counterinsurgent who engages in abusive practices is unlikely to receive the respect of the populace (Kilcullen 2006b). The failure of many counterin- surgencies, and the root causes of many insurgencies, is often traced to government disregard of basic rights (Sepp 2005). There are indications that the extrajudicial killings are having such an effect in the archipelago. From 2001 to 2004, the number of barangays (villages) influenced by the NPA grew, on average, by 37% per year (Hernandez 2005). If the AFP continues killing members of the progressive party-list groups this could give people the impression that they have no alternative other than to take up arms in order to effect change in society, and this will eliminate any avenues for peaceful change. As a former AFP Chief of Staff, Senator Rodolfo Biazon told Human Rights Watch (2007, p. 17), ‘Somehow I think it is a wrong track for the govern- ment to take because it could drive our people into the arms of the insurgents. We could be pushing more and more people to consider extra-constitutional means to affect these reforms and changes.’

The possibility of a transformed AFP Is it possible that, just as the emphasis on destroying insurgent infrastructure articulated in the Phoenix Program influenced the AFP, the new population-centric paradigm may influence the AFP and, in so doing, transform it into a military more sensitive to the population? The answer to this (admittedly) rhetorical question is that such a transformation appears doubtful. It is unclear as to exactly how well received the new developments in counterinsurgency will be among members of the American military itself. According to Sewell (2007b, p. 39), ‘the Field Manual faces an uphill fight even within the Army and Marine Corps’. If the American military does not fully accept these principles then it is unclear as to how well they will transmit them to the AFP. The AFP also has a history of virulent anticommunism that may make the acceptance of a population-centric paradigm unlikely. As McCoy (1999, p. 195) wrote about the training of AFP officers at the Philippine Military Academy, ‘its ideological indoctrination emphasized a strong “anticommunist sentiment” rather than a “pro-democracy sentiment,” opening graduates to the appeal of rightist authoritarian rule’. In the words of San Juan (2006, p. 18), ‘the AFP continues to pursue a fanatical anticommunist program today even after the collapse of the Soviet Union’.

The culture of impunity in the Philippines Important incentives for the US military to implement a counterinsurgency doctrine focusing on the population have emerged from scandals such as the May Lai massacre or the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. These incidents have led to court-martials, periods of incarceration and dishon- ourable discharges for those engaged in wrongdoing. In the Philippines, however, there is a

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culture of impunity so thoroughly established it will preclude any movement by the AFP to cease killing those it views as enemies of the state. The fact that no member of the AFP has been con- victed of one of the recent killings sends a message of de facto state tolerance for such practices (Amnesty International 2006). ‘There is a perception that military officers who, at the least, condone killings of suspected NPA members are rewarded’ (Human Rights Watch 2007, p. 46). If the AFP believes itself to be immune from prosecution for human rights abuses it will be more likely to repeat them (Amnesty International 2006). This culture of impunity goes back to the Marcos dictatorship when, for 14 years, the AFP engaged in human rights abuses as the praetorian guard of Marcos (McCoy 1999). When Aquino became president (1986–92) she was beset by nine coup d’e´ tat attempts in 5 years and aban- doned any attempt to prosecute the AFP for past crimes (McCoy 1999). Aquino was followed as president by Fidel Ramos (1992–98), a former Philippine Constabulary commander under Marcos; Ramos elevated many AFP officers with records of human rights abuses into positions of power (McCoy 1999). Ramos was followed as president by Joseph Estrada (1998–2001), who ‘perfected the process of impunity by offering the dictator’s surviving cronies both legal and symbolic absolution for their crimes’ (McCoy 1999, p. 301). When People Power II removed Estrada from power, in January 2001, the AFP supported the installation of Macapagal- Arroyo, and many view her as beholden to the AFP and prevented, by it, from disciplining its members who commit human rights violations (Human Rights Watch 2007). Indeed, should Macapagal-Arroyo act aggressively to curb the power of the AFP, she may find herself being removed from power by it; as Hutchcroft (2008, p. 154) wrote, ‘it would be a mistake to dismiss the possibility of a coup’. The Philippines is an authoritarian society with a democratic fac¸ade that has sought a short-cut to democracy without pausing to assess, let alone purge, the legacy of the Marcos years (McCoy 1999). ‘Freed from judicial review, the torturers of the Marcos era have continued to rise within the police and intelligence bureaucracies, allowing martial law’s legacy of military abuse and corruption to persist unaddressed and largely uncorrected’ (McCoy 1999, p. 335).

Conclusion: a war without end What is happening today in the Philippines, with the extrajudicial killings of members of the progressive party-list groups, is another example of the traditional exclusion of the left from electoral politics. Unable to influence the direction of the government by seeking access to political power through peaceful means the left has been given no alternative other than to ‘head to the hills’ and attempt to seek access to political power through violent means. This could keep the archipelago stalled in a continuous pattern of rebellion that seems to know no limit, or end. In many ways, the situation in the Philippines could come to resemble the situation prevailing in Colombia during the 1980s. During the government of President Belisario Betancur (1982–86), a peace process resulted in a truce between the government and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC). During this ceasefire, a coalition of leftist forces was created called the Unio´n Patrio´tica (Patriotic Union, or UP) as an attempt to create a political alternative to the armed struggle (Oslender 2007). However, once the left came into the open, so as to partake in the political process, they became vulnerable and began to be systematically killed in a dirty war launched by right-wing paramilitaries and sectors of the army opposed to what they perceived to be a political wing of the FARC (Oslender 2007). ‘By the early 1990s the UP was practically wiped out, with over three thousand members and activists and two presidential candidates having been assassi- nated since its formation’ (Oslender 2007, p. 118). From this point on, the left in Colombia became focused almost exclusively on a military strategy, and the mistrust resulting from this

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experience has had a lingering impact; as Oslender (2007, p. 118) wrote, ‘It is difficult to see the guerrilla demobilize and reintegrate into society, if their prospect is almost certain assassination by right-wing elements in society’. Much as in Colombia, the killing of members of the Filipino left attempting to access the electoral system of the archipelago through the party-list system could impart inertia into the armed conflict. Members of the left will rely exclusively on a military strategy and this will perpetuate the insurgency of the NPA. Its insurgency, and the counterinsurgency of the AFP, will ebb and flow, but neither side will be capable of completely defeating each other. The famous Filipino historian Renato Constantino wrote about the revolt on the island of Bohol from 1744 to 1829, when the Spanish lost control of the island for 85 years. At this time, wrote Constantino (1975, p. 102): ‘Three thousand people would not have abandoned their homes so readily and chosen the uncertain and difficult life of rebels had they not felt themselves to be the victims of grave injustices and tyrannies’. If members of the progressive party-list groups continue to be killed while attempting to participate in electoral politics, the left in the Philippines will certainly view themselves as the victims of grave injustices and tyrannies and they will remain in the hills and continue to wage an armed opposition to the state. The Philippines will be locked in a war without end.

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