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KMP: No tributes to Cojuangco from farmers

Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco died last night, Tuesday, June 16, at an expensive private hospital in Quezon City due to, according to a news report, lung cancer. He was 85.

All news stories about him so far describe him as a business tycoon, a sportsman, a sports patron, a philanthropist, and political kingmaker. His death even merited a message from Malacañan Palace. “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Mr. Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco, Jr.,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

None of the announcements and reports has yet to call Cojuangco what he was accused of for most of his life, a crony of Ferdinand Marcos. In fact, Cojuangco was not just a crony but was said to be the biggest one.  In an article in December 30, 1990, the Los Angeles Times described him as “second only to Marcos in the systematic looting of the Philippines.”

The sector who complains to this day that they were wronged by Cojuangco is one of the country’s poorest: coconut farmers.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said they cannot condole with the family of the deceased, as the Ph105-billion coco levy fund Cojuangco was accused of pocketing in the heydays of the Marcos dictatorship and plunder remain unreturned and unremitted to its true owners.

“Patay na si Danding Cojuangco Jr., hindi pa naibabalik sa mga magsasaka ng niyog ng pondo ng coco levy na dinambong ng mga promotor ng coco levy fund scam,” KMP national chairperson Danilo Ramos said in a statement hours after the announcement of Cojuangco’s death.

It was said that Cojuangco used the coco levy fund to acquire companies, land, banks and other businesses that made him not just one of the richest men in the Philippines but throughout the world.

Danding and Marcos

The book “Some Are Smarter Than Others” by former exile and national librarian Ricardo Manapat described Cojuangco as one of Marcos’ closest and most loyal cronies. They have in fact developed interlocking godfatherships of their sons and grandsons.  Danding even named his eldest son Marcos Cojuangco.

Their business partnership started with rice importations that also involved Juan Ponce Enrile and Jose Aspiras, two other cronies. And when he faced the possibility of being summoned to testify in United States courts in connection with charges of monopolizing coconut trading, Marcos appointed him “Ambassador-at-Large” to prevent that from happening.

At the height of his power under the Marcos dictatorship, Manapat said Cojuangco controlled corporate assets worth $1.5 billion which at the time was 25% of the country’s gross national product. In an April 2, 1990 report, the Wall Street Journal reported that Cojuangco was into rice cartels, sugar, flour, groceries, cement and soft drinks aside from coconut, sugar, agri-business, banking and others.

Danding’s wealth enabled him to own vast land holdings in Central Luzon, Central Visayas and Palawan where he kept hundreds of high-powered firearms wielded by hundreds of guards who were reportedly trained by Israeli mercenaries. He also collected Ferraris and Rolls Royces and owned expensive race horses imported from all over the world, the book revealed.

The coco levy fund

The coco levy fund was the biggest taxation scheme in the country at the time of its imposition in 1971. It exacted taxes on coconut meat produced by farmers amounting to billions of pesos and allowied both Cojuangco and Juan Ponce Enrile to become major players in the global trade of coconut products.

The fund the levy created was supposed to be spent for support activities within the industry, collected from farmers as soon as they sold their products to traders. They were supposed to be issued receipts as proof of their ownership of the fund but majority of them never received the receipts. None of them benefitted from the fund and have in fact suffered because of it due to lowered incomes.

Manapat’s book said that at the height of the coco levy’s implementation, the coconut farmers only earned $19 a month on the average. This meant that they could only afford 10% of the minimum requirement for their family’s food.  Years after Marcos had been deposed and the coco levy fund was ordered by the Supreme Court to be given back to its real owners, many beneficiaries have died still demanding to given back the money owed them.

Nearly a president

But Danding remained rich and powerful after his friend and benefactor was deposed. He never went to jail and kept control of San Miguel Corporation (SMC) and other big businesses. He was even a candidate for the presidency in the 1992 national elections.

The KMP revealed that in 1998, when his good friend Joseph Estrada was elected president, Cojuangco’s 4,661-hectare landholding in Negros Occidental spanning two cities and seven towns were exempted from actual land distribution through a joint agribusiness venture between the ECJ Corporation and 1,200 Certificate of Land Ownership Award holders.

Danding’s SMC is also the primary initiator of flexible labor policies in the country that promoted contractual labor and laid off tens of thousands of workers across SMC companies, the KMP said in its statement.

“Danding Cojuangco Jr. is the embodiment of the landlord-comprador-bourgeoisie ruling class who have enriched and empowered themselves through exploiting the Filipino masses, especially workers and farmers,” Ramos said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

KODAO ASKS: Bakit kailangang ipagdiwang ang Sigwa ng Unang Kwarto?

Inilunsad nitong Enero 26, 2020 sa Bantayog ng mga Bayani, Quezon Ave, Quezon City ang pagdiriwang sa ika – 50 anibersayo nang Sigwa ng Unang Kwarto.

Tinanong ng Kodao ang mga dumalo sa pagtitipon kumbakit kailangang gunitain at ipagdiwang ang First Quarter Storm of 1970. (Bidyo ni Jek Alcaraz/Kodao)

First Quarter Storm 50th anniv celebrations honors martyrs

At the event signalling the year-long celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the First Quarter Storm of 1970 at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City last January 26, its surviving participants paid tribute to all their comrades in the historic youth and student-led series of massive protest actions that rocked the Marcos dictatorship. The FQS was the first big uprising that launched the national democratic revolution that still rages in the Philippines today. (Video by Jek Alcaraz/Kodao)

‘Invincible, founder declares on CPP’ 51st anniversary

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the revolutionary mass movement it leads are invincible and continue to grow, its founder said on the underground party’s 51st founding anniversary today, December 26.

In a statement, Jose Maria Sison said that seven succeeding Philippine governments over the past five decades have failed to crush the local communist movement despite repeated announcements they would do so.

“The CPP and revolutionary mass movement are invincible. They have been tempered by more than 50 years of revolutionary struggle against the ruling system and all the strategic plans devised by US imperialism and their Filipino puppets to destroy them,” Sison said.

Sison said the CPP keeps on growing “because the objective conditions for waging [its] armed revolution are increasingly favorable and the broad masses of the people demand revolutionary change.”

Sison and 10 other comrades founded the CPP on December 26, 1968 in Alaminos, Pangasinan which then formed the New People’s Army (NPA) in March the next year. The CPP and the NPA is known as the longest-running Marxist-Leninist-Maoist armed revolution in the country today.

Weathering anti-insurgency drives

The CPP was the first underground armed resistance launched against the emergent Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship and widely acknowledged to have substantially contributed to the late strongman’s eventual ouster in 1986.

Internal conflict racked the party in the late 1980s to early 1990s however that led to the issuance and implementation of its “Second Great Rectification Movement.”

The CPP said the rectification movement successfully stopped the party’s disintegration and has since resulted in its biggest membership in its history.

The NPA for its part said it currently has about 120 guerrilla fronts in 73 of the country’s 81 provinces.

Consistently seen by seven succeeding Manila governments as the biggest security threat to the Republic, the CPP has weathered many counter-insurgency drives: Marcos’ Operational Plan (Oplan) Katatagan; Corazon C. Aquino’s Oplan Mamamayan and Oplan Lambat-Bitag I and II; Fidel Ramos’ Lambat-Bitag III and IV, and Oplans Makabayan and Balangay (which transitted into Joseph Estrada’s presidency); Gloria Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya I and II; Benigno Aquino III’s Oplan Bayanihan; and Rodrigo Duterte’s Oplan Kapayapaan and Oplan Kapanatagan.

During the NPA’s 50th founding anniversary last March, AFP Spokesperson BGen. Edgard Arevalo predicted it would be the revolutionary army’s last.

“We say there is nothing for them to celebrate. The AFP with other relevant agencies of government is working diligently to ensure that this anniversary will be their last,” Arevalo said.

Sison however said the Duterte government has failed to destroy the revolutionary movement even with its “all out war” strategies.

“All efforts of the Duterte regime to destroy the CPP and the revolutionary mass movement have failed,” Sison said.

“Since he became president in 2016, Duterte has been obsessed with seeking to destroy the revolutionary movement in order to please US imperialism and the local reactionary classes,” he said.

Sison said Duterte even went as far as claiming to be “Left” and “socialist” and pretended to be for peace negotiations only to later implement anti-CPP measures such as Proclamations Nos. 360 and 374 to Executive Order No. 70, terminating the peace talks, declaring the CPP and NPA as terrorists, and creating an anti-insurgency task force, respectively.

‘Systemic crisis begets resistance’

Sison, the President’s college political science professor, said Duterte’s escalating oppression and exploitation drive more Filipinos to wage people’s war and all forms of resistance.

“[The Duterte government] has worsened the conditions of underdevelopment, high unemployment, low incomes, soaring prices of basic commodities and mass poverty that. It has further bankrupted the economy by shunning land reform and national industrialization, increasing import-dependent consumption and rapidly making the local and foreign debt burden and tax burden of the people intolerably heavier,” he explained.

Sison also said that colossal amounts of public funds are wasted on bureaucratic and military corruption and on futile schemes to destroy the revolutionary movement and impose a fascist dictatorship on the people.

“It is apt to describe the regime of state terrorism and unbridled greed as unwittingly the best recruiter of CPP members, Red fighters and other revolutionaries. It is also the best transport and supply officer of the New People’s Army for sending its troops for annihilation on terrain advantageous to guerrilla warfare,” he said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

University of the Philippines unveils new subject on the Marcos dictatorship to counter historical revisionism

The subject was offered 33 years after the downfall of Marcos

By Karlo Mongaya

A new General Education (GE) subject that will tackle the dark years of military rule in the Philippines during the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship will be taught at the Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines (UP), the country’s premier state university.

Philippines Studies 21 (PS 21) tackles the historical experience of repression and resistance under Martial Law as a way of countering attempts by political allies of the late dictator Marcos, including the incumbent Rodrigo Duterte government, to whitewash the crimes, corruption, and rights abuses under the martial law regime.

The new subject will focus on the language, culture, and literature from the Martial Law era. The course title PS 21 was taken from the date of the declaration of Martial Law on September 21, 1972. Then President Ferdinand Marcos imposed dictatorial rule for 14 years until his overthrow by a popular uprising at EDSA in 1986.

The new subject has stirred controversy as the Marcoses complained that it may be “one-sided” against their family while the armed forces raised the alarm that it would be used as a recruitment tool for “communist rebels”.

Instituting PS 21

PS 21 has been in the works since 2014 when it was first proposed by Philippine Studies professors at the UP Department of Filipino and Philippine Literature (DFPP).

But efforts to institutionalize the subject gained renewed impetus late in 2018 when the issue of UP President Danilo Concepcion dancing with Senator Imee Marcos, the eldest daughter of the dead dictator, at a function in the university was reported by the media.

The UP Diliman University Council issued a statement calling for stronger efforts to educate the public on the horrors brought about by the Marcos dictatorship, including the creation of additional subjects in the university.

After passing several steps in the rigorous academic process for approving subjects, PS 21 finally made it through the UP Diliman University Council last September 2019. The proposed syllabus of PS 21 has been uploaded online.

Asked by media about the subject, Senator Imee Marcos appealed that her family’s side of the story be included in the course. The PS 21 proponents assured her that the late dictator’s speeches and writings legitimizing military rule are indeed part of the subject.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, who served as counsel for the Marcoses in their cases on their ill-gotten wealth, said the subject is a good idea: “Every student should know and learn any subject that concerns governance.”

Contentious history

The Martial Law era remains a contentious topic in the Philippines today. On the one hand, many Filipinos continue to seek justice for those whose rights were violated — the tens of thousands who were imprisoned, tortured, killed, disappeared — by the Marcos regime.

Marcos’ debt-driven development programs and massive corruption favoring his family and cronies have been cited even by mainstream economists for the many ills facing Philippine society today.

On the other hand, human rights activists said that the failure of post-Marcos administrations to convict the dictator’s family and his cronies has allowed the Marcoses to return to power. The dictator’s son and namesake Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. almost won the vice-presidency in the 2016 elections. His sister Imee Marcos currently occupies a seat in the senate.

President Duterte, who has openly expressed admiration for Marcos, and his officials have been blunt in calling on the public to “move on” from the horrors of dictatorial rule while his officials tout those years as the “Golden Age” of Philippine history.

A propaganda video released by the state-managed Philippine News Agency (PNA) against activist organizations as part of the government’s counter-insurgency campaign, for example, praises the Marcos era as the highest point of the country’s economy.

Duterte moreover allowed the burial of the body of the dictator at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery) on November 18, 2016 sparking indignation and nationwide protests.

Students listen as proponents explain the rationale and contents of the PS 21 subject during its launching held in UP last September 18, 2019. Photo by author

Target of red-tagging

Ironically, the subject that tackles abuses of the dictatorship is itself now subjected to Marcos era-style repression. PS 21 is yet to be taught but the new subject is already in the cross-hairs of the Duterte government and its armed forces.

The UP Rises Against Tyranny and Dictatorship (UPRISE) network recently condemned the Philippine military for falsely red-tagging the new subject as a recruitment tool for “communist rebels” in a lecture at the Isabela State University Cauayan campus.

Target of red-tagging

Ironically, the subject that tackles abuses of the dictatorship is itself now subjected to Marcos era-style repression. PS 21 is yet to be taught but the new subject is already in the cross-hairs of the Duterte government and its armed forces.

The UP Rises Against Tyranny and Dictatorship (UPRISE) network recently condemned the Philippine military for falsely red-tagging the new subject as a recruitment tool for “communist rebels” in a lecture at the Isabela State University Cauayan campus.

UPRISE said that red-tagging is in line with President Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70 mandating a “whole-of-nation” approach that synchronizes the activities of all civilian agencies as part of the military’s counter-insurgency efforts:

This presentation was made in line with Executive Order no. 70, fronted as a talk on ensuring student safety and security, but is in essence a massive smear campaign against nationalist and critical education espoused by schools and legal organizations.

Senator Bato dela Rosa, who as former police chief was the lead executor of Duterte’s “War on Drugs”, is leading a crusade to “save students” against “communist infiltration” in schools and universities.

His Senate Committee Report no.10 proposes school administrators clampdown on “radicalization” thru increased police and military presence in campuses, regular review of academic programs, monitoring of school events, up to the filing of charges against professors.

Students, faculty, and employees hold protests last August 20, 2019 at the historic Palma Hall of the University of the Philippines Diliman against the threat of military and police intrusions on campus. Photo by author.

Conscientization amidst repression

Last October 31, 56 activists in Bacolod City, Negros and 2 in Manila City were arrested in raids conducted by Duterte’s security forces on the offices of legal people’s organizations and homes of activists in Negros and the national capital.

This was followed by an early morning November 5 raid on the office of activist group Bayan in Tondo, Manila and threats of state reprisals on legal offices of human rights defenders and progressives.

The crackdown on legal activists who have been the most vocal critics of the Duterte administration has not stopped, with various humanitarian and religious groups included in the military’s list of “communist terrorist groups”.

As the current administration intensifies the constriction of democratic spaces in the country, the new PS 21 subject hopes to be a platform for the “conscientization” of a new generation of Filipino youth on the importance of human rights, social justice and the continuing struggle for genuine freedom and democracy.

Concerned faculty in other UP campuses outside Diliman are endeavoring to institute the same subject in their respective regions. The proponents hope that the same efforts will be pushed in other schools and universities in the country. #

Disclosure: The author teaches Philippine Studies at the UP Diliman Department of Filipino and Philippine Literature.

(This article was first published by Global Voices, an international and multilingual community of bloggers, journalists, translators, academics, and human rights activists. It is republished by Kodao as part of a content sharing agreement.)

Land rights activists confront Irene Marcos-Araneta

Land rights activists Angelo Suarez and Donna Miranda chanced upon Irene Marcos-Araneta at a Sunday market in Quezon City last September 15 and confronted the late dictator’s daughter.

Suarez and Miranda said it is ironic that Marcos-Araneta is buying vegetables when the Araneta family is grabbing land from vegetable farmers in San Juan del Monte City, Bulacan.

The couple also pointed out that the Marcos family has yet to apologize to the victims of the late dictator Ferdinand’s martial law, including Suarez’s father, a journalist. (Video by Raymund Villanueva/Kodao)

Activists commemorate 33rd EDSA anniversary ‘amid new tyranny’

Various groups commemorated the 33rd anniversary of EDSA People Power 1 in a protest action last February 23.

The “Tayo ang EDSA, Tayo ang Pag-asa” rally was attended by progressive groups, opposition leaders and religious sectors who unanimously remarked that a new tyranny has descended on the Filipino people once more.

BAYAN said that the rotten social system remained 33 years after EDSA that the country is still confronted with gross human rights violations.

BAYAN warned that the people will not allow and will resist a repeat of the Marcos dictatorship under the signboard of “Duterte”. (Video by: Maricon Montajes and Carlo Francisco)

EDSA at diktadurya

“Tayo ang EDSA! Tayo ang pag-asa, ang totoo at ang pinakamakapangyarihang pwersa laban sa diktatura!“–Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. during a commemoration of the first People Power Uprising at EDSA last Saturday, 23 January.

Children vs convicted criminals

Several members of the Philippine House of Representatives want the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility lowered from 15 to nine years old while powerful personalities such as former First Lady Imelda Marcos convicted of graft remain free. (Cartoon by Mark Suva)

Youth activists hold ‘National Day of Remembrance’ to honor Martial Law victims

The League of Filipino Students (LFS), one of the country’s most storied youth groups, on its 41st anniversary honored the victims and martyrs of the Martial Law in a forum at the University of the Philippines Tuesday, September 11.

Present at the forum were Nanette Castillo of RISE UP, Prof. Sarah Raymundo of No Erasures No Revisions, LFS alumnus Nathanael Santiago and Datu Tungig Mansumuy-at of Salugpongan Mindanao who compared their struggles during Marcos’ martial law to current President Rodrigo Duterte’s own tyranny.

Also present were Bonifacio Ilagan, Danilo dela Fuente and Carmencitta Caragdag who were martial law survivors.

Danilo dela Fuente, a martial law survivor and vice chairperson of SELDA (Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) said that, “The 41st anniversary of the LFS is a manifestation that what we fought for as members of the Kabataang Makabayan during the martial law, after 41 years have passed, still continues through the LFS.”

“Our history and struggles during the martial law should not be forgotten. All the experiences and practices we had will serve as lesson on how the youth today must face the Duterte dictatorship,” dela Fuente added.

According to Kara Taggaoa, LFS national spokesperson, “The organization was established during the Marcos regime when students’ right to organize was repressed. Now that we are again facing another dictator in Malacanang, LFS’s commitment is to continue to fight for people and students democratic rights.”

Current LFS members held a protest activity and welcomed leaders of indigenous peoples group in front of the university’s Palma Hall after the forum to start a series of activities called “9 Days of Remembering and Rage: Remembering Martial Law, Rage Against Tyranny” that will culminate on the anniversary of Marcos’ declaration of martial rule on September 21. (Report and photos by Maricon Montajes)