MANILA – Sexual harassment, abuse, and even rape among women is happening inside the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), a former cadre of the communist terrorist group said.
In observance of International Women's Month, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) held a special press briefing on Tuesday inviting former CPP-NPA-NDF cadre Arian Jane Ramos alias Ka Marikit, and two other female rebel members as resource speakers.
Ramos was the former secretary of the NPA Guerrilla Front (GF) 55, Sub-Regional Committee 5 (SRC)-Southern Mindanao Regional Command (SMRC), and former chairperson of Gabriela Youth - University of the Philippines (UP) Mindanao, where she was recruited into joining the communist movement while she was still a student.
Ramos revealed that based on her knowledge while inside the CTG, a number of women rebels become victims of sexual abuse by their male comrades and most of the time, by their commanders.
She said that she even heard of a story inside the movement that a certain commander abuses several women, which she did not believe at first until she personally met some of these women.
“Naririnig ko sa ibang mga kuwento ng mga kasamahan na mismo iyong mga elemento ay pinagsasamantalahan ng mga cadre especially ng mga lalaki. I don’t know kung tama ba pero marami kasing kuwento doon sa loob ng kilusan na may isang commander na kahit sino lang iyong naging asawa niya. At objectively speaking, pagpunta ako sa isang community, nakita ko talaga at kilala ko talaga iyong iba’t ibang babae na may anak siya (I have heard of stories from colleagues that our own members are raped by cadres. I don’t know if it’s true, but there are many stories that there is a certain commander who takes on anyone to be his partner. And objectively speaking, when I went to a certain community, I personally saw and met these different women who became his wives.)," Ramos narrated.
"So iyong konsepto na dahil ikaw ay military cadre ng NPA, iyong macho ba, macho thinking na dapat dahil ako ay isang commander ng NPA, I have the right na mag-exploit ng mga kababaihan. I have the right na kahit sino puwede kong gamitin (So the concept that because you are a military cadre of the NPA, you are a macho, the macho thinking that because I am an NPA commander, I have the right to exploit women, that I can use anyone),” she added.
As a woman, she said it pained her to see the party being used for the self-interest of its commanders.
“Napakasakit kasi nga kami na nag-i-effort ‘no na magserbisyo sana sa mga tao, pero iyong mga kasamahan namin ay lumalaki na ang ulo. So iyon ang isa sa mga mahirap doon sa loob. Tapos iyong iba naman ay may mga pinagsasamantalahan, may mga rape issues, may mga rape cases (It is painful that while we are exerting effort to be of service to the people, but our male comrades are abusive. That is one of the dilemmas inside. Then there are those who are abused, there are rape issues and rape cases),” she added.
Ramos clarified that she was not raped or abused while with the organization.
However, what makes the rampant abuses against women inside the communist group worse is that victims do not receive justice.
“Kasi nga iyong konsepto ng partido ay ‘Sige kasi ganito naman iyong current situation ng Philippine society na MKMP (Malakolonyal at Malapyudal), macho feudal ang lipunan, puwede patawarin natin, i-explain natin ganito, ganiyan.’ So napaka-unfair para sa nga babae kasi hindi nabibigyan ng justice iyong mga ginagawa para sa kanila (That is because the concept of the party is that this is the current situation of Philippine society that is colonial and feudal, the society is macho feudal, their actions can be justified. But it is very unfair for the women because they are not given justice for what they went through),” Ramos said.
She said based on her observation, women who are opiniated and question the system end up being viewed as bad and wrong.
She said that her sympathy really goes out to female comrades whom she personally heard these horror stories from. She lamented how these women refuse to expose the abuses for fear of being discriminated against.
“Basta ang babae na magsasabi noon, ibig sabihin totoo iyon so dapat kailangan nating bigyan ng justice – at isa iyon sa mga hindi nabibigay ng partido (When a woman speaks out, that means its true and they should be given justice – and that is one of the issues that the party cannot address),” she said.
Meanwhile, Ka Ruffa Correa, another former rebel, narrated how she suffered inside the organization from when she was pregnant until after she gave birth.
She added that her younger sister identified as Ka Shane was raped by her commander and platoon leader at the age of 15.
The Correa sisters eventually escaped and surrendered to the military.
Ka Ruffa said giving birth was a near-death experience for her as she and her younger sister Shane were left to fend for themselves while going down the mountains to reach the hospital.
Just a month after giving birth, she said that she was ordered by her commanders to get back to the mountains, forcing her to leave her baby to people whom she hardly knew.
When she got back, she said that she was shocked to find out from her sister that she had been raped twice by her commander and their platoon leader.
Ka Ruffa said Shane did not want to tell them of the incident as she was threatened to be killed if she did so.
She said they tried filing charges before the movement’s own tribunal, but to no avail.
Shane is now under the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development while rape charges have already been filed by the Department of Justice against her commander, identified as Paterno Opo alias Dodong and Rey dela Peña.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
The Anti-Terrorism Council has also formally designated the NDF as a terrorist organization on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973. (PNA)