STUDENT activism has been commonplace in college and university campuses. We were all lured into it in the mid-1960s. I am not sure now which came first - the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New Peoples Army or the Kabataang Makabayan but each has the fingerprints of Jose Ma. Sison.
It was the gathering storms and the university campuses were the virtual spawning places. Aside from textbooks the “Red Book” of Chairman Mao Tse Tung and books on Dialectical materialism (the Marxist doctrine that political and historical events are products of conflicts of social forces and contradictions and solutions) were the best sellers. The conflict is believed to be caused by material needs of the proletariat which in Russia were urban workers and wage earners. Maoism proceeds from agrarian conflict and therefore targeted landless farmers and laborers.
Maoism and Marxism were potions that would foment student activism. It was the campus political fashion of the decade staged by KM. Elsewhere Joma Sison organized the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New Peoples Army. KM, CPP/NPA peddled their revolution with this ideological brew that led to destructive and riotous demonstrations that bedeviled Ferdinand Marcos Presidency. While indeed, there too was brewing separatist movement in Maguindanao led by Nur Misuari, the real reason why Marcos imposed Martial Law was the civil unrest stirred by CPP/NPA and KM and the bombing of the LP political rally in Plaza Miranda that killed a number of spectators and maimed LP candidates among them Sen. Jovito Salonga. Furthermore, Marcos was hell-bent on implementing the agrarian reform program which would address the Maoist clamor but will find opposition among the landlords.
Joma Sison was detained but soon after the so-called People Power Revolution which ousted Marcos with the machination of America that installed Corazon Aquino, the later promptly set Joma free. This was to be expected because CPP/NPA was rumored to have been organized allegedly with the knowledge of Marcos bitter critic, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Cory’s husband. It was the late Senator Salonga later, who in the twilight of his years, would reveal that it was not Marcos who ordered the bombing of the Liberal Party political rally but the NPA. Mention was made that Ninoy was the only one absent during that rally.
Joma, of course, fled to Europe and had stayed there until today. His Maoist menu to incite uprising lost substance as thousands of landless tenants became beneficiaries of Marcos agrarian reform program. Sadly when Cory assumed power, she creatively found means to exclude Hacienda Luisita by enticing the tenant-workers to be part-owner of the vast hacienda by way of stocks certificates. She also decreed that all those who do not have lands will be given lands. When the hacienda workers later realized that they had been had, they mounted rallies in Plaza Mendiola and in the gates of Hacienda Luisita but were mowed down not by water cannons but machinegun fires.
It is important to recall the incidents of the past to understand the present. School campuses remain to be a veritable recruitment grounds for the CPP/NPA. We have to take note that while indeed campus activism was a reality in university campuses many scholars and achievers have moved into the corporate world and some have become captains of industries. The main reason for this is that Maoist and Marxist ideology had become irrelevant even in the countries where these were conceptualized. Joma knew this early on that is why he opted to seek asylum in Europe where ironically the New Peoples Army which he founded had been tagged a terrorist organization.
But why the perceptible although a covert attempt at recruiting university students?. Because not a few thought that they are not “in” if they don’t and recruiters knew of their naiveté. It is their gullibility that drew them into the sinkhole. Not a few slips out of university campus to attend cell meetings and are warned that they have become suspects and therefore would seek protection from their comrade. The same tactic was used by the separatists’ movement in Mindanao in the past. They were promised P10,000 monthly allowance, gave them drugs for sham operations, scare them as wanted by the law thus inducing them to join the separatist cause. With the NPAs those who seek their protection are ordered to join protest rallies shouting slogans which have not changed since the so-called 1st quarter storm.
There are many legitimate struggles like the Arab Spring which sprung from the citizens or subjects who, on the dawn of seamless information, revealed the realities outside the confines of their homes and territories. This is inconceivable in the Philippines where freedom of information is not limited, where freedom of movement is not confined, where speech can be slanderous and those against the government are free to extrapolate figures from the air like the 27,000 dead from extra-judicial killings and go scot-free.
The members of the NPA are dwindling. In Davao Region, not a few combatants have surrendered and were given lands by no less than President Duterte himself. The middle-income group has become stronger and that itself is an antidote against leftist adventurism.
For as long as the European donor foundations will not be inveigled to release funds to so-called human rights foundations and some shady NGOs the last thing that they will resort to is by extortion. Which they had been doing in order to survive. Eventually, the likes of Sarah Elago will eventually be confined to the list of street parliamentarian or destabilizers. And what of Joma Sison? He is in the pre-departure area and who cares.