Round and round

While Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison was studiously careful not to endorse a presidential candidate in a recent Bulalat interview—endorsement being, after all, a validation of the very system that the CPP and its various arms would see consigned to the dustbin of history—I find it worth noting that, between front-runners Noynoy Aquino and Manny Villar, Sison thought Villar had a “relatively better”, if “underplayed”, program, and that Villar, because of said program and the people around him, would be more likely to enter into serious peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

The assessment itself is nothing new, considering that the CPP, in a statement issued to mark its 41st anniversary last December, said Villar seemed to be “the most patriotic and progressive insofar as he advocates the interests of Filipino businessmen, expresses sympathy for the workers and peasants and condemns human rights violations”. Of course, the CPP has also derided Villar for his bureaucrat capitalism, for being “the biggest among [former President] Estrada’s stooges“—are these remarks that belong to the dustbin of history as well?

In any case, the statements of Sison are interesting to me for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that it unfailingly leads me to the question, “What program?”

Granted, there was that much-vauntedmutual adoption” of platforms between the Nacionalista Party (NP) and the Makabayan coalition, but the resultant document was published in the NP web site only on February 20, several days after the official campaign period had started, and over two months after the same material was available on the Makabayan web site. Perhaps more importantly, can the document be found in Villar’s main campaign site? As of this writing, it cannot.

I wish to stress that, as I have pointed out elsewhere, Villar is utterly dismissive of platforms, and his dismissiveness is a matter of public record. In an interview with Ricky Carandang, he said, “Kasi yung mga plataporma, madaling sabihin ‘yan e. Pagagawa mo lang sa speechwriter mo ang mga plataporma mo, sasabihin mo ‘yan, me-memorize-in mo ‘yan, okay na.” Such a statement should strike no one as having come from a man who takes platforms in particular, and governance in general, with any gravity or sincerity.

This brings me to the second reason that I find Sison’s evaluation interesting: in claiming that Villar would be more amenable to negotiations with the NDFP—Aquino being supposedly surrounded by anti-communist and pseudo-progressive elements—Sison appears to have overlooked the fact that the NP is a former ally of, and is still friendly with, Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL), of which the honorary chairman is none other than former First Lady Imelda Marcos, the living half of the conjugal dictatorship that was once touted as the most effective recruiter for the CPP. Moreover, Villar and the Marcoses are on such good terms that they, along with the so-called solid North founded by the late dictator Ferdinand, will be voting for Villar.

Even if Sison later quibbles and says that he had, after all, been asked to pick between undesirable choices, his seeming willful blindness to the Marcosian specter and spectacle that is necessarily connected to the “relatively better” Villar, is disturbing.

Does Sison believe that delivering justice to a body politic that continues to suffer from the ravages of the Marcos regime is no longer the priority that it was? And what about the allegations of abuse against Villar himself—do not these matter? Has Sison yielded to the inevitability of a Villar-aided Marcos restoration? Or, as Business Mirror columnist Manuel Buencamino suggested some time ago, is the revolution indeed over?

Insofar as the concept of revolution implies the presence of a circle, closing with this quotation from Imelda Marcos may well be apropos: “My economic theory is that money was made round to go round. Money was made to encircle man so that he would blossom with many flowers. The whole trouble is, the center is money. All the heads of people thinking about money. All the hands of people reaching out for money. All their poor little bodies working for money. They are running in all directions for money.”

[This also appears in Filipino Voices.]