POLITIKANG SEKSUWAL SA NEOKOLONYANG PILIPINAS


THE PHILIPPINES MATRIX PROJECT

Picasso-Les Demoiselles d'Avignonvagina_painting(1965)PUKAWIN NG PUKPOK ANG PULOT-PUKYUTAN: POLITIKANG SEKSUWAL SA PANAHON NG TERORISMONG NEOLIBERAL

— ni E. San Juan,Jr.
ANG tao ba ay katumbas lamang ng kanyang katawan, o bahagi nito? Ang kasarian ba ay walang iba kundi organong seksuwal? Seks ba ang buod ng pagkatao?

Kung hindi man ito kalakaran, ang tumututol ay siyang nagtatampok ng problema, bagamat salungat sa namamaraling opinyon o doxang pangmadla. Sinomang bumanggit ng seks ay kasabwat na ng mga bastos at mahalay. Sabi-sabi ito. Batikusin mo, ikalat mo’t palaganapin. Bakit mali ito?

Ang usapang seksuwal ay di na masagwa o mahalay ngayon. Buhat noong maging sikat, bagamat kontrobersiyal, ang “Vagina Monologues” ni Eve Ensler, tila hindi na nakasisindak tumukoy sa mga maselang bahagi ng katawan ng babae. Ang estilong bugtong o talinghaga sa seks–gawaing pakikipagtalik–ay itinuturing na sintomas ng neurosis o maselang sakit ng budhi. Paano ang seks ng transgender, hybrid o cyborg? Ordinaryo na…

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Posted in DISCOURSES ON CONTRADICTIONS

POLITIKANG SEKSUWAL SA NEOKOLONYANG PILIPINAS


Picasso-Les Demoiselles d'Avignonvagina_painting(1965)PUKAWIN NG PUKPOK ANG PULOT-PUKYUTAN: POLITIKANG SEKSUWAL SA PANAHON NG TERORISMONG NEOLIBERAL

— ni E. San Juan, Jr.
ANG tao ba ay katumbas lamang ng kanyang katawan, o bahagi nito? Ang kasarian ba ay walang iba kundi organong seksuwal? Seks ba ang buod ng pagkatao?

Kung hindi man ito kalakaran, ang tumututol ay siyang nagtatampok ng problema, bagamat salungat sa namamaraling opinyon o doxang pangmadla. Sinomang bumanggit ng seks ay kasabwat na ng mga bastos at mahalay. Sabi-sabi ito. Batikusin mo, ikalat mo’t palaganapin. Bakit mali ito?

Ang usapang seksuwal ay di na masagwa o mahalay ngayon. Buhat noong maging sikat, bagamat kontrobersiyal, ang “Vagina Monologues” ni Eve Ensler, tila hindi na nakasisindak tumukoy sa mga maselang bahagi ng katawan ng babae. Ang estilong bugtong o talinghaga sa seks–gawaing pakikipagtalik–ay itinuturing na sintomas ng neurosis o maselang sakit ng budhi. Paano ang seks ng transgender, hybrid o cyborg? Ordinaryo na lamang ang seksuwal chitchat. Bakit hindi kung laganap na ang advertisement sa Viagra at iba pang drogang nagpapaudyok sa hindutan? Anong masama sa masarap na “dyugdyugan”? Di ba utos kina Eba at Adan: “Multiply…Magparami kayo!” Kung di kaya, uminom ng pilduras o di kaya’y virgin coconut oil. OK ito sa mga pariseo ng simbahan.

Wala bang sariling ating pukaw-pukyutan? Katutubong pukyotan-putakang pangsarili. Biro ng iba, kung instrumento ng progresibong sektor ang popularidad ni Ensler, bakit di pumatol ang “Penis/Balls Monologue”? Kung sobrang tsobinismo o makismo ito, e di symposium o colloquium ng mga genitalia? O sunod kina Bakhtin at Levinas, diyalogo ng balun-balunan, bukong-bukong at puwit? Demokratikong pagpapalitan ng kuro-kuro at kiliti. May reklamo ka?

Pambihirang Pakulo

Iwan na muna natin ang katawang performative. Dumako tayo sa milyung espirituwal, sa palengkeng neoliberal. Pambihira talaga. Walang clone si Ensler. Isa na siyang korporasyon ng Power Elite ng Global North. Isang haligi ng Imperyong U.S. Naging selebriting burgis si Ensler, kumita ng di-makalkulang yaman at prestihiyo sa di umano’y peministang hamon sa moralidad ng puritanismong lipunan.

Nagsilbing kultural kapital ang cause de celebre, ginawang passport o pretext para isalba ang kababaihan saan mang lupalop tulad ng neokolonyang Pilipinas. Talo pa niya si Mother Teresa. Ililigtas sina Mary Jane Veloso, Andrea Rosal, Wilma Tiamson, at iba pang inaaping babae sa rehiyon ng BangsaMoro at Lumad.

Huwag nang idawit ang Birhen, o babaylang Reyna sa TV at pelikula. Hindi biro, naging talisman o magayumang lakas ang seks ng babae. Sino ang may reklamo sa One Billion Rising ni Ensler? Ang Vagina Men sa Quezon City o sa Congo? Pati mga gerilya ng New People’s Army ay nagsasayaw sa direksiyon ni Ensler sa tulong ng mga kakutsabang kabaro. HIndi na monologo kundi koro ng mga diwata sa gubat kung saan ang masa ay mga isda, ayon kay Mao.
Magaling! Tuwang-tuwa ang mga hito, talakitok, dilis, bia, tanggigi, bakoko at tilapya. Mabuhay ang rebolusyong umiindak, naglalambing. Kung hindi tayo kasama sa sayaw, sambit ni Mother Jones, bakit magpapakamatay?

Karnibal ng mga Paru-Paro?

Kaalinsabay ang usapang puk# sa liberalisasyon ng diskursong seksuwal sa klimang anti-kapitalistang protesta sa buong mundo. Tampok dito ang Women’s Liberation movement (simula kina Simone de Beauvoir o Shulamith Firestone) noong dekada 1960-1970. Bumunsod na nga sa pagturing sa prostitusyon bilang sex work/trabahong makalupa. Ewan ko kung anong palagay ni Aling Rosa at mga Lola ng “Lolas Kampanya Survivor” na naglakbay sa kung saan-saan, salamat sa tulong ni Nelia Sancho, ang coordinator ng grupo.

Sa ngayon, 300-400 Lola ang buhay pa sa bilang ng 2000 “Comfort Women” sa Pilipinas. Wala pang hustisya sina Lola Jullia, Lola Fedencia, atbp hanggang ngayon. Patuloy nilang iginigiit na ang ginawa ng mga Hapon noong giyera ay hindi pag-upa sa babaeng trabahador kundi talagang gahasang tortyur, panggagahis sa sibilyan, isang masahol na krimen laban sa humanidad. Usapang putangna iyon, walang duda. Ang babae ay makinang ginamit upang magparaos ang mga sundalong Hapon, tulad ng mga “hospitality girls” sa Angeles City, Olongapo, at iba pang R & R sentro ng US sa kanilang pandaramong sa Vietnam, Cambodia at Laos noong mga dekada 1960-1980.

Radikal at Mapanuri? Bawal! Huli ‘yan!

Bago sumabog ang peminismong radikal, mahaba na rin ang tala ng rebelyon ng mga alagad-ng-sining laban sa sensura, ipokrisya’t pagbabawal sa malayang paglalahad. Historya ito ng ebolusyon ng modernidad. Kasi, laging pinaglalangkap ng Patriarkong Orden ang militanteng sining at pornograpya. Hindi sumusunod sa istandard ng burgesya. Taktikang pagbubusal iyon sa kritikang kamalayan. Isipin na lang ang kaso sa dalawang nobelang Ulysses ni James Joyce at Lady Chatterley’s Love ni D.H. Lawrence, o mga libro ni Henry Miller. Pati Catcher in the Rye at Huckleberry Finn ay pinagbabawal sa ilang aklatang pampubliko sa U.S.

Nakakabagot itong ipokrisya, testigo sa paghahati ng lipunang mapagsamantala’t makahayup. Huwag na nating balik-tanawin pa ang mga sinaunang halimbawa ng Satyricon ni Petronius, Decameron ni Boccacio, Gargantua at Pantagruel ni Rabelais, at mga akda ni Marquis de Sade. Sinubok nilang sugpuin at pigilin ang pag-unlad ng kamalayan. Laging umiigpaw sa kontrol ng mga naghahari ang lasa at nais ng madla, hindi ng mga awtoridad na umuusig sa mga “ideological State apparatus” ng makauri’t mapagsamantalang lipunan.

Sa larangan ng pintura, masilakbo’t maengganyo ang balitaktakan. Armadong puwersa ang nakapangingibabaw, hindi argumentong rasyonal. Nakasalalay ang kapangyarian ng Patriyarkong Burgesya. Pwedeng banggitin ang eskandalo tungkol sa “Olympia” (1865) ni Edouard Manet, “The Origin of the World” (1866) ni Gustave Courbet, “Ecstatic Unity” (1969) ni Dorothy Iannone, at mga litrato ni Robert Mapplethorpe. Halimbawa naman ng mga paggamit ng tema o imaheng relihiyoso, mababangit ang eskandalo tungkol sa “Piss Christ” (1987) ni Andres Serrano o “The Holy Virgin May” (1999) ni Chris Ofili.

Sa atin naman, magugunita ang pagsasara ng “KULO” exhibit at ang “Politeismo” (2011) ni Mideo Cruz. Kung itinanghal ang “KULO” sa Pransiya o Italya, marahil walang problema. Baka naging mabenta pa ang mga mapangahas na likhang-sning, karibal ng mga milyong dolyar na produkto nina Andy Warhol at De Kooning.

Ngunit sa neokolonyang mahal, ang diskurso ng libog o praktikang pukaw-pukyutan ay tabu pa rin, sa pangkalahatan. Merong pasubali. Sa akademyang sekular, umiiral ang regulasyon sa takdang lugar ng usapang libog. Ngunit nananaig pa rin ang tradisyonal na moralidad ng iba’t ibang simbahan–mga ugali, gawi, kostumbre sa kilos, salita, at sentido komun ng bayan.Sino ba ang nakikinabang sa ganitong paghihigpit? Di na tayo makababalik sa hardin ng karinyo’t lampungan. Magtiyaga na lang kayo sa kampo ng mga nudist. O pornograpikong eksena/video sa Internet. Mag-ingat ka, ang surveillance ngayon ay di lamang estratehiya ng pulis, kundi maniobra ng mga espiya sa Internet, satellite, drones—wala kang ligtas! Puputaktahin ka ng isang katerbang buwisit at kamyerdahang panghihimasok.

Hamon kina Gabriela Silang at Mga Babaylan

Paano kung ambisyon mo ang tumulad kay Shigeko Kubota? Lalaki ka man, puwede ka ring gumaya kay Kubota.

Sino itong Kubeta? Kubota po, hindi kubeta. Ipinanganak siya sa Niigata, Hapon, noong 1937, kalahi ng mga Budistang monghe. Naging kasapi siya sa organisasyong Fluxus sa New York noong dekada 1960. Si Kubota ay tanyag na avantgarde video-iskultor, lumilikha ng video installation, sumusuri sa pamana ni Marcel Duchamp, ama ng modernismong sining. Kalahok ang mga maraming likha niya sa Dokumenta 7, Kessel (1982) at iba pang museo’t galeri. Naging propesor siya ng teknolohiya ng video/pelikula sa iba’t ibang unibersidad at institusyong global. Unang napag-aralan niya ang komposisyon ni John Cago noong 1963 sa pagsasanib niya sa grupong musikero sa Tokyo, ang Ongaku, kasama si Yoko Ono.

Naging tanyag si Kubota sa “Vagina Painting,” na ginanap sa Perpetual Fluxus Festival,Cinematheque, New York noong Hulyo 1965. May foto ng akto niya sa libro ni Peter Osborne, Conceptual Art (New York: Phaidon, 2002), pahina 71. Subaybayan din siya sa Internet sa dokumentasyon ng “Vagina Painting” at iba pang likhang-sining niya.

Sa pangyayaring ito, inilatag ni Kubota ang isang malapad na papel sa sahig. Doon nagpinta siya nang abstraktong linya sa pulang kulay sa bisa ng galaw ng brotsa. Nakakabit ang brotsa sa singit. Huwag mo nang itanong kung gaano katagal ang aksyon at ano ang reaksyon ng awdiyens noon. Sinasagisag ang kanyang vagina bilang bukal ng inspirasyon. Ang pulang pinta ay kahalintulad ng dugo sa regla na hulog mula sa lugar na tinaguriang kawalan ng phallus (sa metaporikang pakahulugan; ibig pahiwatig, hindi penis o titi). Sa gayong palabas, pinasimulan niya ang isang perspektibang makababae sa tipikal na pagtatanghal ng Fluxus hinggil sa operasyong pagbabakasakali, pasumala o patsansing-tsansing(“chance operations”).

Iminungkahi ni Kubota sa kanyang akto ang isang alternatibo sa agresibong teknik ng action o drip painting ni Jackson Pollock. Isang hamon din ang ginanap ni Kubota sa papel ng babaeng artista na laging pinapatnubayan, ginagabayan, at inuugitan ng kalalakihan–awtoritaryong disiplina ng mga Patriyarko. Dagdag pa, pinuna ni Kubota ang paggamit sa babae bilang brotsang buhay, nilubog sa pintang kulay asul, na pinagapang sa kanbas, na masasaksihan sa Anthropometrie serye ni Yves Klein noong dekada 1950-1960.

Salungat si Kubota (na asawa ng bantog na si Nam June Paik) sa ganoong paggamit ng katawan ng babae, isang uri ng “human traffiking” ng kababaihan. Kapanalig niya sa krusadang ito sina Yoko Ono at Carolee Schneeman, na hindi masyadong nagustuhan ng kanilang grupong Fluxus.

Makibaka, Huwag Magsipsip

Sunod ba ang One Billion Rising sa pintang pukyutan ni Kubota? Aktibo pa rin si Kubota sa New York. I-Google ninyo. Uliran ang kanyang halimbawang napasimulan sa pagpukpok sa pukyutan upang pukawin ang bihag at nakukulong na kamalayan. Isang sandata iyon sa conscientization ng madla. Bakit hindi? Bakit hindi gamitin ang katawan–na siyang lugar ng “Kingdom” ng Tagapagligtas–upang palayain ang pagkatao’t kaluluwa (kundi pa naisangla o naipagbili)? Bakit pa nagkaroon ng inkarnasyon kung tayo’y mga anghel na walang puwit o bunganga, walang titi o puk%?

Anong reklamo mo? Manunuod na lang ba tayo ng “Fifty Shades of Grey” at YOUTUBE seryeng pornograpiko, at mga artifaktong pabalbal sa Internet tulad ng “Kakantutin ka lang nila” (mahigit 4,081,933 ang taga-subaybay? Kuntento na ba tayong laging nakatungaga sa mga strip-tease at sirko ng mga egotistikong selebriti sa TV at pelikula? Marami tayong reklamo, sigurado, kaya dapat ipahayag na ito. Pasingawin at ibilad ang mga pasakit, himutok, hinanakit. Kundi, baka magkarambulan sa sikolohiyang pantayo’t pambarkada.

Alam nating lahat ang tunay na situwasyon. Tulad ng anumang bagay, puspos ng masalimuot na kontradiksiyon. Lahat ng bahagi ng katawan ay may reklamo, laluna ang sikmura, uhaw sa hustisya. Marami nang pasubali: kaya bang ipahiwatig ang damdamin ng buong body politic sa makitid at partikularistikong paraan ng Vagina Monologue o Vagina Painting? Binugbog at pinarusahang mga katawan ng sambayanan, isinasangkot sa pambansang mobilisasyon ang lahat ng kasariang inaapi. Bukod ito sa One Billion Rising.

Pag-ugnayin muli ang pinagwatak-watak na bahagi ng katawan upang mabuo muli ang kalayaan at pagkakapantay-pantay na winasak ng imperyalismo’t kapitalismong global. Usapang mapagpalaya, hindi lang usapang puk%, ang rebolusyong sumusulong, kabilang ang lahat ng nakikiramay ngayon kina Ka Leoncio Pitao at Ka Vanessa Limpag, biktima ng barbarismong kabuktutan ng rehimeng Aquino at US imperyalismo. Mabuhay sina Kumander Parago at Ka Vanessa, bayani ng lahi, laging buhay sa puso ng masa.–###

Posted in COMMENTARY ON CURRENT EVENTS, DISCOURSES ON CONTRADICTIONS, EXTRAPOLATIONS | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

BUGTONGANG EROTIKA ni E. San Juan, Jr.


Picasso-Les Demoiselles d'AvignonBUGTONGANG EROTIKA
(Handog sa mga pulis ng moralidad, ahente ng surveillance, censors,
at iba pang nagbabawal sa kalayaan ng pagsasalita’t pagsusulat)

Munting tampipi, puno ng salapi.
Malalim kung bawasan, mababaw kung dagdagan.

Baboy ko sa Marungko, balahibo ay pako.
Baka ko sa palupandan, unga’y nakararating kung saan.

Baston ni Adan, hindi mabilang-bilang.
Tungkod ni Kurdapyo, hindi mahipo-hipo.

Tumakbo si Tarzan, bumuka ang daan.
Buka kung hapon, kung umaga ay lulon.

Isang matinik na tampipi, asim-tamis ang pinagsama
sa maputing laman niya.
Malayo pa ang sibat, nganga na ang sugat.

Baka ko sa Maynila, abot diyan ang unga.
Bumubuka’y walang bibig, ngumingiti nang tahimik.

Naupo si Itim, sinulot ni Pula; heto na si Puti, bubuga-buga.
Iisa ang pinasukan, tatlo ang nilabasan.

Baboy ko sa Sorsogon, kung di sakya’y di lalamon.
Urong-sulong panay ang lamon, urong-sulong lumalamon.

Sa isang kalabit, may buhay na kapalit.
Pumutok ay di narinig, tumama’y di nakasakit.

Baboy ko sa kaingin, nataba’y walang pagkain.
Habang iyong kinakain, lalo kang gugutumin.

–ni E. SAN JUAN, Jr.

Posted in DISCOURSES ON CONTRADICTIONS

Review of E. San Juan’s AMBIL by Ivan Labayne


Featured Image -- 1180New Ways of Saying “Revolt! Change the System” as an ambil for the National Democratic Movement: a reading of Epifanio San Juan Jr.’s Ambil: mga pagsubok pahiwatig & interbensiyon tungo sa pagbabagong-buhay
by Ivan Emil A. Labayne

In the Summary of Mark Angeles’ Poetics (2014) which Virgilio Almario moderated during the 2014 UP National Writers’ Workshop, a recurring point resurfaced regarding the hackneyed images of ‘political’ or ‘protest’ literature.
For instance, Eugene Evasco had a challenge for Angeles: “pwede ba tayong sumulat ng mga protesta ngayon na higit na sariwa ang pagkakasulat? Sa tulang ‘Fortuna,’ narito ang mga imahen ng masong bumayo, umaasong bakal, piring, uhay ng katarungan—kumbaga, kung gumawa tayo ng katalogo ng mga tula ng protesta noong 70s, gamit na gamit ito. Ang teorya ko, ang mga problema noon, problema pa rin ngayon—pero hindi naman kailangang pareho parin ang mga imahen” (2014). Clearly, Evasco finds Angeles’ works as wanting. Ferdinand Jarin had a different concern, the audience: “Bagamat hindi pa rin nagbabago ang lipunan, sa ganitong tula, are we still writing for our fellow activists? Paano ang masa na hindi organized? Paano ka makaka-reach-out sa ganun?” (2014). The same issue troubled Eusebio-Abad although she cited the more personal dimension on the part of the audience: “Ang gusto kong isa pang i-target mo na reader ay ang middle class; ang hindi pinaka-naaapi pero nararanasan rin ang oppression” (2014).
All these questions and points raised—from Evasco and company regarding Angeles’ poetics will be kept in mind as I proceed to my main object of analysis: Epifanio San Juan Jr’s 2014 anthology of poems dubbed Ambil: mga pagsubok pahiwatig & interbensiyon tungo sa pagbabagong-buhay. My premise is that Angeles’s and San Juan’s works can be grouped together in the more general category of ‘political,’ socially committed or protest literature if not informed by the same, specific political line: that of National Democracy (ND) in the Philippines.
In this anthology, at least on a cursory reading, San Juan appears to put same-old realities and topics in a novel, more palatable and unpredictable garb. There were pictures and paintings, cut-outs from dictionary page and citations of a journal, a testimony and a dictionary which cannot help but to recall avant-garde poetic techniques innovated in the West. We need to interrogate this further for at this point there might be a flirtation with the thought that this is Dada all over again, or Surrealism all over again, where linguistic plays are equated to “a desire for apocalypse, the instantaneous transcendence—and denial—of the historical reality in which political revolutionaries struggled” (Russell 1985, 162). A closer look into this anthology can reveal that its kernel is still the same—‘pagpapanibagong-buhay’ in the subtitle—and what else could this be but a new way of life in a new social system—only with more invigorating literary experimentations and explorations, in order to prove that political literature’s, if not the ND’s well of metaphors and ways of expressing are far from exhausted.
This analysis then aims to expound on how San Juan’s Ambil was able to maintain its experimental literary expressions while articulating a message that has been articulated since the revival of the new Communist Party of the Philippines in 1964 and keeps on being articulated in various venues and media—the streets, student papers, literary collections, personal blogs, Facebook and the social media in general (will the revolution be tweeted?) among others—up to now. Furthermore, these innovations in articulating this ‘pagpapanibagong buhay’ message can be contributory in dueling common conceptions of the ND Movement as stuck-in-the mud and uncreative dogmatic people. As such, this book and what it is performing can be considered an ambil of political literature and the ND Movement itself; a new attribution to and interpretation of a Movement that calls for a systemic change in society.
I grouped selected works under a certain theme or topic which I found in this anthology in order to facilitate the discussion. Five categories are based on content: (1) the theme of exceeding or overcoming, (2) the theme of wager or taking a chance, (3) resistance (of course, how can this be left out?), (4) repression and (5) the primacy of the material. My proposition is that all of these categories point to the general, underlying idea of social transformation, the ‘pagpapanibagong-buhay’ in the anthology’s subtitle. Now, we can see how San Juan was able to do this.

This System as End Point, This History as End? Go Beyond!
A recurring exhortation in Ambil relates with overcoming, with exceeding or surpassing. This can be found twice in these series of words one can find every now and then coming in between two poems. For instance, after the poem ‘Ambil’ which consists of a cut-out of a dictionary definition of the word ‘ambil,’ we can find the following:
KAHIT IKINULONG KUMIKILOS
UMALPAS
UMIGPAW
UMAGOS
UMAPAW (2015, 15)

The four um- verbs precede a line that indicates a background for their actions: being imprisoned. Actually, the phrase pertaining to this background “kahit ikinulong” is immediately followed by an -um- verb, only that it is in the present progressive, unlike the next four which are all in the past tense. Notably, the verb pertaining to the background condition is in the past as well: ‘ikinulong.’ What could this nuance signify? My reading is that the present progressive ‘kumikilos’ aims to point out the generality and the continuity of the action (as verb) and of the state of being in action as well.
I also speculate that the word ‘kumikilos,’ unique not just in terms of tense but also in terms of its position to the background condition (‘ikinulong’)—it is placed at the same level as, not below ‘ikinulong’—has a special place in the entirety of this set of words. What I suspect is that it roughly corresponds to the idea of ‘praxis’ which is esteemed in Marxist theory as the prime mover of both ideas (philosophy, literature) and events (history, with its economic, political and cultural dimensions). In addition, this word in present progressive which denotes continuity and regularity bridges the two ‘parts’ found in this series: the first (‘kahit ikinulong’) which is the negative state of things and background condition for the second (the um- verbs) which seek to go beyond the condition stated in the first. In other words, in order for one to surpass or overcome the state of imprisonment/repression, one needs to act continually, one needs to be involved in praxis. Relevant here is Badiou’s description of agency:
“not… how a subject can initiate an action in an autonomous manner but how a subject emerges through an autonomous chain of actions within a changing situation… not everyday actions or decisions…but those extraordinary decisions and actions which isolate an actor from their context, those actions which show that a human can actually be a free agent that supports new chains of actions and reactions” (2003, 6, emphases are mine).

The second part of the divide, the um- verbs, I posit, are attempts to launch ‘new chains of actions’ which can ‘isolate’ the actors from a repressive context. In between the yucky and repressive present condition and the actions that can point to a new future is the general idea of praxis and its continuous enactment.
Lastly, I think it was Zizek (in The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology (2012)) who mentioned something like the outburst (‘pag-apaw’) of discontent among the people leading to a kind of violence that serves both as the expression and containment—the latter is needed in order to prevent one’s self from breaking down—of this discontent, this repulsion towards the current scheme of things (We’ve had enough!). The riots in England last 2011 is a great example here. Such outbursts can be seen as a critical voice raised against the present way of things. However, it is not always that this critique is coupled with a systematic alternative and a corresponding program, as the 2011 riots evinced. In such case, the actions are likely to fizzle, falling short to its supposed regularity and continuity, weakening “kumikilos” by turning it into “kumilos.”
Then we see again this idea of overcoming and surpassing in the very last series of words in the last page of the book, apt final words for the reader to chew on before leaving the book behind:
DUMARAGSA SA HANGGAHAN
ABOT-TANAW
SUMAGAD SA VEKTOR NG GUHIT-TAGPUAN
PUMAPAIMBULOG
ANG BUNTALA
SA IYONG BALINTATAW (2015, 92)
Rolling the dice
Badiou begins a Chapter in Infinite Thought with a quotation from Mallarme which goes like this: “All thought begets a throw of the dice” (Badiou 2003, 39). Any idea and action will involve some morsel of uncertainty, and hence a degree of risk: deciding to court someone, buying an imitation Samsung phone without warranty, voting for a Presidential candidate. The same is true when it comes to aspiring and working for a new social setting. There is no certitude as regards when the current system will be replaced by a more humane one; how will the alternative exactly look like and if it will not just repeat the ugliness of the system it toppled, or if one will be able to witness the emergence of the new system. But this incertitude does not stop one from aspiring, from holding on to an ideal, and more vitally, from doing things towards its accomplishment. At least, this is how San Juan approached this uncertainty, this need for rolling the dice.
In “Akdang Walang Pamagat” (71), he wrote:
Hinuha
hinalang unti-unting lumilitaw
kinakapa sa malay
maaaring
maging
binhi ng

The uncertainty here is obviously marked in the end of the poem which left us perhaps gawking, perhaps awaiting impatiently, “binhi ng ano?” But let us trace how the poem has come to arrive at this uncertainty at the end which, with the word “binhi,” also spells out the potential of something growing, something emerging. It begins with a guess, a suspicion, an assumption. This eventually took form and then groped by the consciousness. After this: the possibility, the likelihood (the word in the poem is “maaari). Then: the unspecified to-come, to-sprout.
I think this parallels with the differentiation between the two French equivalents of the English “future” —futur and avenir—which Zizek cited in The Year of Dreaming Dangerously (2012). Said Zizek, “Futur stands for future as the continuation of the present, as the full actualization of the tendencies which are already here, while avenir points more towards a radical break, a discontinuity with the present—avenir is what is to come /a venir/, not just what will be” (2012, 134). I argue that the uncertainty, a productive one (we will make what we don’t know yet now!), is teeming in the future-as-avenir, the future that will be radically different from the present. It is up to us—via our extrapolations, our suspicions and our doings—to enunciate and bring about this to-sprout, this to-emerge thing. Maybe this is the message of “Akdang Walang Pamagat,” with this ‘title’ alone resembling an absence of certainty, an absence of exact designation. Can this not bring to mind Badiou’s words which seems to lambast discourses and ideologies, including Stalinism—a favorite in discrediting Marxism and the socialist possibility—that claim to say everything?: “the effect of the undecidable, of the indiscernible and of the generic, or, the effect of the event, the subject and the truth must recognize the unnameable as a limitation of its path” (Badiou 2003, 67). No one can give voice to everything, not even the most radical cadres and practitioners of Marxist theory or the most prolific of revolutionary poets. If all history and all possibilities have been known and articulated and done, what is the use of arousing, organizing and mobilizing, to utilize the ND’s parlance? Thankfully, that is not the case. This Movement aiming for social transformation is still taking shape, day-by-day, assessment-after-assessment; and this uncertainty shall prod nothing else but continuous movement, both in theory and practice.
In “Bagamat Walang Katiyakan o Kahihinatnan, Umaasa Pa Rin” (8-9), we can see the idea of wager in the last line, a wager that is tied to a change of life (“pagpusta sa pagbabagong-buhay”). Mallarme is hovering here again. This comes after the series of two-liners whose first words relate to failure or losing: bigo, paltos, mintis, palyado, kulang-palad and so on. But interesting as well is the shift when it comes to the words following the first word. For instance, after bigo in the first line is a grim announcement of the absence of god and salvation: “walang bathalang liligtas o sasagip sa iyo sukat na ipagsamo.” This was followed by “anong tadhanang nagbabanta sa pagliko ng daan” which comes with paltos. This trend continues up to the fifth two-liner (Kulang-palad, saan patutungo na walang paralumang gagabay) until some semblance of hope and inspiration was supplied by the sixth two-liner: “Amis, patnubay mo ang anino’t larawang nakapinta sa pader.” Interesting to note is the subtle shifting of the source of guidance from the ‘paraluman’ to the ‘anino’t larawang nakapinta sa pader.” It seems to make more concrete and palpable this source of desired guidance. Then the seventh and eighth add welcome relief after the series of questions in the first five two-liners: “Sawi, siguradong may wakas sa hanggahan ng landas/ Bagsak, bumukal ang pag-asa sa kawalan at sa paglisan.” The words “sigurado” and “pag-asa” seem to negate all hesitations and incertitude described earlier. In the ninth two-liner, chance beckons again and in the tenth, a hint of activity: “Talo na, di sinasadya’y tinutukso ka ng pagkakataon/ Laos, nakuha pang lumingon upang mapagsino ang sumusunod.” If fear that there is someone following you creeps in, the best thing to do is to make a move: look behind you and check! In the thirteenth two-liner, productivity and movement continue to persist, this time with regards to imagination, to the mind, to ideas: “Bigo man, sige pa rin ang galaw ng imahinasyong nakatiwangwang.” Imagining is a crusade against barrenness, against mental stagnation and the resignation to things which this inability to imagine new things causes. In the fifteenth and sixteenth two-liners, we can visualize the hard work involved in waging for a new way of life: “Sandali, dumaplis muntik na, walang suwerte walang tagumpay/ Saglit, kapurit lamang, halos wala, masusulyapan mo sa pagitan ng rehas.” The repressive background returns here via the “rehas” and this background informs the wager being made. Hence, if the bet is for a new way of life, we can assert that the current way of life is typified by the “rehas.” Tons of work will be required; and yet success will not come by without sweat. But as the title states, one keeps on hoping, and even more than that, one keeps on wagering and working for a better life-situation.

The primacy of the material
As Marxists, the ND movement gives high premium to materiality. Against abstractions, they value the concrete, the tangible, the materially manifested. This prizing informs some of its basic tenets such as “Walang karapatang magsalita ang walang kongkretong pagsusuri.” Another basic contradistinction occasionally made between the idealist “essence precedes existence” and the materialist “existence precedes essence” also typifies this primacy.
In Ambil, we can likewise see this notion being propounded, put poetically. In “Diskarteng Pag-urirat sa Cogito Ergo-Sum ni Descartes” (27), we can sense a progression from the state of just being conscious to being in more active and material positions and doing actions. The poem’s first two lines are as follows: “Nagkamalay ako, samakatwid ako ay/ Naghinala ako, samakatwid ako ay/. The doubt expressed in the second line is quite prompt in destabilizing the ‘consciousness’ announced right at the onset. Starting on the third line, the instability encapsulated by the “naghinala ako” continued and even intensified. On the third line, “naghangad ako;” on the fourth, “nagulat ako;” on the fifth, “natuliro ako,” on the sixth and so on: “nagmura ako,” “nanaginip ako,” “nalibugan ako,” “nadaya ako,” “nainggit ako.” Matters such as sexuality and competition, economic or not, are implied here. Consciousness recedes to welcome the bodily and the material to the foreground. On the fifteenth line: “Tumutol ako’ nakibaka, samakatwid ako ay.” Two lines after that, this: “Naghihingalo, samakatwid ako/ Humingi ng saklolo, samakatwid/ Wala nang hininga, sama ka.” The first person gradually became muted here until help from others was needed. The move from the existence-defining consciousness/thought to the body which spells the boundaries of existence occurs side by side the move from the individual to the non-individual, if not the collective. Descartes’ philosophy is clubbed here and this paved the way for propping up the Marxist viewpoint.

Repression is always there
The repressive background has already been mentioned in some of the previous works. But usually, it works there to motivate the awakening of a critical consciousness and then the enactment of actions. In two poems however, the focal point is on the repression itself, arguably done in order to accentuate their inhumanity and nefariousness.
“Aanhin pa ang Damo ng Grasya Kung…” (77) uses as its material the military operation that actually happened in Lacub, Abra September of last year. The torture and death of civilians and rebels alike were described in this poem. Notably, the persona in the poem was actually in Portugal together with band of tourists learning about the Fatima which is believed to be a “dambanang alay sa kapayapaan, sa kapatiran ng sangkatauhan.” This belief started when the Fatima was said to have appeared to three beggars and ordered them to pray on 1917 during the War. The poem seems to be mocking this tale, making an incomplete analogy between the 1917 War and the contemporary violence in Abra and the Fatima which is told to ‘intervene’ during the former. Now, the poem asks, what intervention is needed for the latter: Kapayapaan at kapatiran sa Lacub, Abra, a similar heavenly appearance? Clearly, the poem has a distaste for this suggestion: “Magdasal upang matapos ang kalupitan at magpenitensya?/ Sa halip magdasal, nag-piket ang pamilya’t kamag-anak ng mga nasawi sa harap ng AFP Headquarters Camp Aguinaldo at hukuman.” The poem gives its vote to direct action, not to some religious succor. Is this a rehashing of the old-type critique of religion once again in the face of state brutalities? Is this “religion is the opium of the people” of 19th century, narrowly interpreted and then recycled for the 21st century? Yes, it is still “religion is the opium of the people” but not the one that is sequestrated from its surrounding text and then crudely bandied about. Let us look back on A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right,” the book from which this famous passage was taken:
“Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of heartless soul…. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions” (1844, 3).

What is being critiqued is not religion per se; it is the state of affairs, the unhappy, gruesome state of affairs that make people turn to religion, and so can be said to justify the existence of religion. It is the repressive state of affairs that needs to be mainly combated, not the religious fervency which is only its offshoot. If for anything, one task is not to antagonize religious sectors but rather to sharply draw the connection between religious pining and devotion and the material conditions that reinforce them. Surely, citing “religion is the opium of the people” quite mindlessly does not help in making such connection.
Next, in “Hindi Madala sa Dalahira” (18), the series of “dahil” lines end with a subtle reference to repression: “Dahil dakdak ka nang dakdak siguradong/ dadalihin ka ng darling mong Maykapal” (19). Talking is not very much encouraged unless it flatters the authority, unless it licks their asses and feet, unless it supports the status quo. Related to this is one of Zizek’s anecdotes states that “When those in power replies ‘But what do you want?’ to our ‘hysterical’ protests, they really mean ‘Say it in my terms or shut up!’” (Zizek 2012, 84). If we do not shut up and use our voice to condemn their atrocities or call for a new scheme of things, we can be dead in the hands of the powers-that-be, our “darling na Maykapal.” Is this cariño brutal or a concretization of some philosophical postulations working out the idea that to love is to render one’s self vulnerable to hurt or a poetic kind of violence? I guess neither; this is simply the State loving us so much, its dear constituents, promising to lead us to better paths and then ends up letting private companies manage services that should be affordable, if not free for us, and persecuting us when we complain. So what to do then: maybe just shut up? Maybe. Although, how about this?:

What else but to resist
Of course: this. How else to advance, to initiate change but through the challenging and the contesting of what is here, what is now. In “Pagtutuos sa Hinulugang Taktak, Antipolo” (21), the situation is that of a visit to Camp Bagong Diwa prisoners which are also comrades of the persona. Here, the jail reappears. In the face of such background situation, the persona was inspiring a moment of reflection, one that does not conceal its hesitations and fears: “Balisa, alinlangan—dahil alanganin? Anong dapat/ gawin sa labas ng rehas at pader alang-/alang sa mga nakapiit?” After this comes a description of the wicked regime which one can suspect is responsible for the detention of the persona’s comrades: “alaalang di natigatig, tayo’y nahulog sa bangin ng/ rehimeng sakim at malupit;/ sinugpo ang pagkatao’t sinupil, dinuhagi,/inalipusta – ilang dantaon na… (22). Suddenly, the laments in relation to the regime was followed by a description of the nature’s bounty: “Kagila-gilalas ang biyaya ng kalikasan, pinapawi/ang sindak, balisa, kutob, bagabag…/ Walang ipinagkakait ang kalikasan, walang pagbabawal, pinagbibigyan,/ ipinagkakaloob/ kahit hindi lumuhod o magdasal.” Here, we can posit that the brutalities and deprivations of the regime are being opposed to the providence of Nature. Nature offers its bounties even if one does not pray for it—this recalls the earlier note on religion since with Nature, one can afford not to invoke the name of Gods for providing people’s needs. Then the motif of flow and unfinished-ness recur: “Di pa ganap sila, tayo….patuloy ang agos, daloy–/. The poem ends with an affirmation of binding, a unity based on dissent: “Walang alinlangang magtatagpo muli tayong lahat/ sa sangandaan ng Antipolo/ hanggang mga kaluluwang nais tumutol,/ bumaklas,/ umigpaw,/ diwang nasang yapusin ang hibong/ pumupulandit sa/ talong marahas,/ lakas ng pangarap/ at pithayang rumaragasa’t/ dumadaloy/ sa ating pinagbuklod na dibdib.
In “Nadinig na Bigkas ng Isang Akda ni Amado V. Hernandez” (26), San Juan simply writes the title of Hernandez’ poem, “Kung Tuyo na ang Luha mo Aking Bayan” in a way that “Kung tuyo na ang luha mo” appears in ten succeeding times and thus creating five exactly identical lines. These are followed by three “aking bayan” put together in a single line. After this series of words is an image of two people holding a hammer and a sickle. What else could this image represent but the socialist possibility and the devoted struggle needed to forge such path? The poem literally repeats Hernandez and then cuts him just in time to propound the socialist hint via the two figures. Going back to the repetitious series of words, we can cite Warhol in order to make sense of this technique. This artist commonly associated with the postmodern in art once said: “I don’t want it to be essentially the same. I want it to be exactly the same” (Foster 1996, 131, emphasis mine). One can read Warhol’s statement as a response to capitalist production this way: you give us ‘new’ fads and objects to consume but in reality, they are all the same; everything is peddled by capitalism for consumption whose profits return principally to those powerful in the system. In place of a mode of production (whether economic or cultural) that shrouds the all-the-same origination and feigns novelty in the process, Warhol calls for a similarity that is really the same. This is evidently at work in “Nadinig sa Bigkas ng Isang Akda ni Amado V. Hernandez.” It is the same line from the first to the tenth line while the last line is comprised of three, similar phrases: “aking bayan.” The repetitious also performs a semantic function. The repeating lines seem to build up towards the concluding image in the end: one that bears a socialist possibility, or at least, the possibility of a socialist revolt. Why an image then, not another string of words as the previous components of the work? My surmise: this possibility delivered by the image must be set apart from the dismal present articulated repeatedly in words. Following this, the socialist possibility is rendered totally ‘new’ in relation to the present background it tries to surpass.
Lastly, we can see in “Transkripsyon ng Ilang Bytes ng NASA Kompyuter, Washington, DC” (30) a series of questions that pull references in real life to itself. There is mention of Yolanda, of the Abu Sayyaf group, of Camp Bagong Diwa. In between them, there are seemingly innocent questions which upon cogitation can be read as discreet parodies or critiques of some notions: “Makibaka ba, huwag matakot?” “Pwede ka bang sumagot?” “Paano tayo makatatakas?” “Bakit bumaligtad?” “Na-etsa puwera ba sila?” “Ano ang kahulugan nito?” “Masaklap ba ang nangyari?” “Sino ang humihiyaw ng ‘saklolo’?” “Kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa?” “Pag-ibig ba raw ang makalulutas ng lahat?” “Niloloko ba tayo?” “Malikmata ba ito?” “Bakit wala kang imik?” The Edward Snowden epigraph could lead one to think of torture as the scenario occurring in this “interrogation.” Therefore the last question, “Bakit wala kang imik?” can signify either that the person being interrogated has already got numbed from the beatings she received or that she just does not want to spill anything. But if we make an ‘ambil’ out of this; that is, play around the meaning of this last question, we can also propose that the poem is putting the burden to the reader. This statement can be a questioning of an immobile, unresponsive and indifferent stance. After the series of questions that can spur the mind into thinking, the poem ends with a nudge on those who neither utter a word nor do anything.
That is why it cannot be merely coincidental that this poem was followed by another of those intervals composed of short series of words:

BINALANGKAS NILIKHA
SA TULONG NG ANUMANG NAIWAN
KAPURIT
KAUNTI LAMANG
NAMAGITAN // HANGGANG MABUO /
ANG HUGIS ANYO
KUWADRO
NG IDEYA
____________________________
SIKAPING MANGARAP NGAYON
KUNG HINDI NGAYON, KAILAN PA?
WALANG MAWAWALA KUNDI
ANG MGA TANIKALA
PANAHON NA

Yes, we have here those famous passages again, passages that incite action, and more than that, underlines its urgency. They have been communicated many times and in different venues. Here, as we have seen in “Nadinig na Bigkas ng Isang Akda ni Amado V. Hernandez” and “Transkripsyon ng Ilang Bytes ng NASA Kompyuter, Washington, DC,” the same calls can be articulated in more surprising manners. This could be done by way of a repetition that really repeats—and thus makes it easier for the readers to follow—unlike the sort of predictable poetic attempts of some ND poetry that tinkers with some images and analogies only to hoist the red flag in the end or announce the reddening of the eastern sky. Or by way of a series of questions which seem to approximate speed and ceaselessness and hence, I guess, also work better in keeping the reader engaged. The use of the second person singular pronoun in the poem can also function to directly latch onto the attention of the reader. This second person trick culminates aptly in “Bakit wala kang imik?” which at that point may have already shoved the reader into thinking, Is this poem addressing me? In the face of the inequalities and injustices that continue to be stark and pronounced in today’s system, calling for resistance in one’s poetry, especially among the ND people, would appear not just necessary but also unavoidable. But the comment about delivering this point of resistance as being “gasgas” is valid. Moreover, a movement that calls for the most substantial kind of New—a new overall social scheme of things—must also practice this birthing of the New even in ‘little’ things such as literary production. I would like to believe San Juan was able to do this, or at least, tried to. He will not tell you, “Sumampa sa kanayunan” or “Kundenahin ang rehimeng US-Aquino!” Instead, he will ask you, Bakit wala kang imik?, when students are being tortured and jailed and people’s homes are being demolished. Directness is loosened a bit in favor of some creative fanciness, some exploratory route that can lead to new possibilities and more effective strategies. After all, as Charles Bernstein put it: “the shortest distance between two points is a digression” (Paris 2012, 196). This is apt not just because it is poetry we are talking about here. More importantly, in a time when the current system presents some key notions—Consume!; Nothing is impossible so long as you work hard, and pray!; Inequalities are solely caused by individual differences – that sustain the wicked imbalance where it obtains life in so innovative, wily and convincing fashion, to the point of hiding the negatives and maintaining an appearance of being harmless and even beautiful and true, I argue that the Movement proposing a systemic alternative must contend with such creativity and innovation in terms of expression. For the ND movement, this must be true not just in relation to literary production but also to other materials such as those used for overt propaganda. Achieving this can only evince that the ND movement, in harmony with the principles of dialectical and historical materialism, evolves in terms of theory and practice and in ways of articulating and doing. After that, we can posit that it could be more effective in doing what is has been doing for decades now.
In the end, I would say that Ambil flirted enough with refreshing and potentially yummy literary experimentations—conceptualist cut-outs, dialogues among characters, myriad images and even a mural(in page 33)—in order to create a mishmash of work that is far from the often-maligned ‘propagandistic’ ND writings and yet does not fail to grasp and keep its rather solid and simple overarching message: the need to battle existing society’s structures and replace it with a new one where justice and equality is truly alive. In addition, it also stays in step with Charles Bernstein’s thoughts on the later works and reflected sensibility of Wittgenstein: “one is not left sealed off from the world with only ‘markings’ to ‘decipher’ but rather located in a world with meanings to respond to” (Perloff 2013, 25). At times, Ambil may appear postmodern in manner but certainly never upheld itself as yet another fancy procedure on words in the ‘prison house of language.’ Its sense of and actual take on history and society is evident and thus invites the readers to delve into the materiality of this history and society as well. It is socially engaged while also earnest in expanding the aesthetics easily identified with the ND movement—and aptly so. The current system can say ‘There’s no alternative society’ in copious ways: bombarding us with beguiling jewelries and condominiums; tapping our tired, arched backs by way of Christmas bonuses or plenty of holidays; showing us politicians and celebrities that says everything is fine, there is nothing to worry about. The challenge for the ND Movement is to call for a system-change with the same creativity and by taking advantage of myriad resources—that is, beyond the image of the hammer and sickle and without directly citing Marx’s “You have nothing to lose but your chains!”
Also: by not ending any write-up – a statement, a book, a critical essay, a work of fiction—with that Marx passage.
San Juan did that do that in Ambil, and then more is to be done in our lives, for these, all our lives, to be made new; towards pagpapanibagong-buhay.

References:

Badiou, Alain. 2003. Infinite thought: truth and return to philosophy. London: Continuum.

e-flux. 2015. On Claims of Radicality in Contemporary Art. Accessed: February 12, 2015.
http://conversations.e-flux.com/t/on-claims-of-radicality-in-contemporary-art/959/7.

Foster, Hal. 1996. The Return of the Real. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Marx, Karl. 1844. Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Accessed: February 03, 2015.
https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/Marx_Critique_of_Hegels_Philosophy_of_Right.pdf.

Paris, Vaclav. 2012. “Poetry in the Age of Digital Reproduction: Marjorie Perloff’s Unoriginal
Genius, and Charles Bernstein’s Attack of the Difficult Poems.” Journal of Modern Literature 35 (3): 183-199. Accessed: September 2013. http://epc.buffalo.edu/authors/bernstein/books/attack/Paris_Vaclav_Perloff-Bernstein_JML_2012.pdf.

Perloff, Marjorie. 2013. Poetics in a New Key: Interviews and Essays, edited by David
JonathanY. Bayot. Manila: De La Salle University Publishing House.

Russell, Charles. 1985. Poets, Prophets and Revolutionaries: The Literary Avant-Garde from
Rimbaud through Postmodernism. New York: Oxford University Press.

San Juan, Jr., Epifanio. 2015. Ambil: Mga Pagsubok Pahiwatig at Interbensyon Tungo sa
Pagbabagong-Buhay. Connecticut: Philippine Cultural Studies Center. Accessed: December 14, 2014. https://www.academia.edu/9216129/AMBIL_mga_bagong_tula_pagsubok_and_interbensiyon.

UP National Writers Workshop. 2014. “Summary: Mark Angeles, Mdoerated by Virgilio S.
Almario. Accessed: February 21, 2015. https://upworkshop2014.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/the-fellows-and-panelists-of-the-53rd-up-national-writers-workshop/.

Zizek, Slavoj. 2012. The year of dreaming dangerously. London and New York: Verso

__________

Short Bionote:

Ivan Emil Labayne is part of Pedantic Pedestrians, a Baguio-based art group which has already done a Book Launch without a book, conducted Rengga sa Kalsada, published four folios, an Oncept Series, a Torture Manual among others online. They also ‘exhibited’ “Itong mga Kinahihiya,” “May Taong Nawawala” at “Ngayon ay Buwan ng Wika” at UP Baguio. Ivan is striving to finish his MA in Language and Literature at UP Baguio this year.

Posted in DISCOURSES ON CONTRADICTIONS | Tagged , , , , , ,

TWO NEW BOOKS BY E. SAN JUAN PUBLISHED THIS YEAR 2015


Posted in DISCOURSES ON CONTRADICTIONS

TRAHEDYA-KOMEDYA SA MAMASAPANO–dula ni E. SAN JUAN, Jr.


vintaMoros1BALINTUNANG KOMEDYA SA MAMASAPANO:
Dulang Algoritmong Potensiyal
(Alinsunod sa paraan ng Ouvroir de Litterature Potentielle)

ni E. SAN JUAN, Jr.

[Paunawa: Lahat ng tauhan sa dulang ito ay pawang likhang-isip; kung sakaling kahawig ng mga personaheng buhay, ituring na aksidenteng pagkakataon lamang iyon at hindi talagang sinasadya–Awtor]
TAGPO 1:

Balisa si Presidente Obama at mga upisyal sa Pentagon, Washington DC..Baka bumagsak ang dolyar at ordeng kapital-pampinansiyal, pag-ulit ng 2008 krisis, kung hindi mahuhuli sina Zulkifli bin Hir at Abdul Basit Usman. Binabalaan na sila ng mga CEO ng Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, IMF at World Bank na dapat kagyat lutasin ang ugat ng panganib sa Pilipinas. Tulala si Obama dahil sa dalawang bagay, na dapat piliin ninyo:

Walang mahanap na Pinay/Pinay na eskiroll na magkukumpisal kung nasaan ang dalawang terorista (tingnan ang Tagpo 8)

Itinago ni Putin ang dalawang rebelde dahil sa panghihimasok ng U.S. sa Ukraine (tingnan ang Tagpo 9)
TAGPO 2:

Nagsuplong kay P’Noy Aquino ang isang ahente ng Taliban sa Afghanistan kung saan nagtatago ang dalawang kontrabida. Pinatawag si Heneral Alan Purisima na suspindido noon, ngunit nawawala ang heneral. Siya ba ay nakompromiso ni:

Kurt Hoyer, Press Attache ng US Embassy, na sikretong CIA ahente, na naghahanda ng planong Wolverine sa Manila Hotel? (tingnan ang Tagpo 5)

O ni bise-presidente Binay habang nagliliwaliw siya sa isang casino sa Makati? (tingnan ang Tagpo 7)
TAGPO 3:

Pinagpayuan ni Sec. Leila de Lima si P’Noy na dapat sa PNP (Philippine National Police) lamang sumangguni sapagkat hindi maasahan ang AFP
na matakaw din sa pabuyang limang milyong dolyar sa paghuli sa dalawang terorista. Hindi makapagpasiya si P’Noy sanhi sa alin sa dalawang dahilan:

Marami siyang utang kay Heneral Pio Gregorio Catapang, hepe ng AFP (tingnan ang Tagpo 6)

Binantaan na siya ni PNP Heneral Leonardo Espina at Int. Sec. Mar Roxas dahil sa pakikipagsosyo sa isang seksing “socialite” (tingnan ang Tagpo 2)
TAGPO 4:

Enero 25, 2015, lumunsad na ang 6 tropang Amerikano sa TCP (Tactical Command Post) ng Sheriff Aguak sa Manguindanao. Ngunit di nila alam ang tiyak na situwasyon ng Special Action Force ng PNP sapagkat ang planong Wolverine ay hindi katugma sa planong Exodus. Bakit nagkaganoon? Piliiin sa dalawang posibilidad:

Nagsusugal ang dalawang heneral sa Zamboanga AFP Western Command, Rustico Guerrero at Edmundo Pangilinan, nang ipahatid ang utos batay sa utlat ng drone ng mga Amerikano (tingnan ang Tagpo 2 )

Inilihim ni PNP Chief Getulio Napenas ang tunay na sabwatan nila ng MILF at BBP sa gagawing “pintakasi” sa Mamasapano (tingnan ang Tagpo 7)
TAGPO 5:

Sinabi ni P’Noy kay Purisima noong Enero 9 sa Bahay Pangarap–“Ayusin mo na kina Espina at Roxas… Ako na ang bahala kay Catapang.” Inutusan niya ang staff sa Malacanang na kontakin ang Coordinating Committee for the Cessation of Hostilities. Bakit hindi nagawa iyon? Piliin ang dahilan:

Okupado sina Mohagher Iqbal sa US Embassy sa pakikipag-ugnayan sa US Institute of Peace at mga kinatawan ng Malaysian Embassy tungkol sa “investments” sa kanilang “ancestral domain” (tingnan ang Tagpo 9)

“Busy” si Chief Napenas sa pakikipag-usap sa isang kaibigan sa Moscow, Russian Federation na nakahimpil sa Teheran, Iran (tingnan ang Tagpo 1)
TAGPO 6

Sumugod na ang 44 na PNP SAF sa Tukanalipao, baryo ng Mamasapano, hindi alam kung ang kalaban nila ay kabilang sa Abu Sayyaf, Al Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiyah, MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters), o NPA (New People’s Army), at walang muwang sa posisyon ng kanilang tinutugis. Ano ang rason ng ganitong pagkalito? Piliin:

Pinangakuan na sila ng bahagi ng pabuya sa pagkahuli o pagkapatay kina Marwan at Usman, kaya hindi na kailangan tiyakin kung anong pulitika o prinsipyo ng mga kaaway (Tingnan ang Tagpo 3)

Binigyan sila ng kopya ng VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement), EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement) at CIA Counterinsurgency Manual laban sa terorismo upang magamit sa pagdumi sa gubat (Tingnan ang Tagpo 8).
TAGPO 7
Iginiit ni Napenas na “iniwan kami sa ere,” ibig sabihin, walang ibinigay na “reward money” ang Washington nang makumpirma sa DNA test na napatay nga si Marwan. Naibalita naman sa Al Jazeera na nakapuslit si Marwan sa tulong ng ilang barko ng Tsina patungo sa Spratley/Kalayaan Isla. At si Usman naman ay nakalusot sa tulong ng MNLF ni Nur Misuari patungong Sabah.

Gusto ninyo ba ng masayang wakas? (tingnan ang Tagpo 9)
Gusto ninyo ba ng masaklap na wakas? (tingnan ang Tagpo 6)

TAGPO 8

Tinanggap na ni P’Noy na responsable siya sa palpak na Exodus, ngunit galit siya kay Fidel Ramos sa panawagan na magbitiw. Mula sa Mamasapano, taglay pa ng mga tao roon ang mga regalo nina Usman at Marwan, ayon kina Boyong Unggala at Farhannah Abdulkahar, dalawa sa 72,585 biktima ng giyera ni P’Noy buhat pa noong Pebrero 25. Nitong Marso 10-13, nadiskubre ng Suara Bangsamoro at Kawagib Moro Human Rights Alliance na nagkalat ang mga nilagas na dokumentong VFA at EDCA sa gubat kung saan nasawi ang 44 PNP pulis, 3 sibilyan, at 17 gerilya ng MILF at BIFF.

Nais ninyo ba ng makatwirang wakas? (tingnan ang Tagpo 5 & 7)
Nais ninyo ba ng balighong wakas? (tingnan ang Tagpo 4 & 9)
TAGPO 9
Samantala, nakipagkita ang Ombudsman sa isang sugo ni Putin sa Singapore at ibinalita na may “gantimpala” sina Heneral Catapang at Espina, pati na sina Mar Roxas at Sec. Leila de Lima, sa “fiasco” ng Wolverine/Exodus.

Sa Washington DC naman, binalak ni Obama na tawagan si P’Noy at ipahatid ang Congratulations ng FBI, Nais daw ng FBI na makapanood ng makulay na dulang “moro-moro”….

Samantala, nagpipista ang mga investors sa Wall Street na naglalaway sa pagbukas ng likas-yaman ng Mindanao na may halagang $840 bilyon-$1 trilyon sa mga korporasyong dayuhan, salamat sa napipintong kasunduang Bangsamoro Basic Law. Mabuhay ang mga “bayani” ng Mamasapano!

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________________________________________________________

TUNGKOL SA AWTOR
Kilalang kritiko at manlilikha sa larangang internasyonal, si E. SAN JUAN, Jr.
ay dating Fellow ng W.E. B. Du Bois Institute, Harvard University at Humanities Center, Wesleyan Uniersity. Emeritus professor of English, Comparative Literature & Ethnic Studies, siya ay kasalukuyang fellow ng Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin.

Si San Juan ay awtor ng maraming libro, kabilang na ang Balikbayang Sinta: An E. San Juan Reader (Ateneo University Press), Sapagkat Iniibig Kita (University of the Philippines Press), Tinik sa Kaluluwa; Rizal In Our Time (Anvil Publishing), Alay Sa Paglikha ng Bukang-Liwayway (Ateneo University Press), Salud Algabre (University of San Agustin Publishing House), Balikbayang Mahal: Passages from Exile, Sutrang Kayumanggi & Bukas Luwalhating Kay Ganda (amazon.com), Ulikba (UST Publishing House) at Kundiman sa Gitna ng Karimlan (U.P. Press).

Inireprint kamakailan ng U.P. Press ang kalipunan ng mga panunuring pampanitikan niya. Toward a People’s Literature. Inilathala ng Lambert Academic Publishing Co., Saarbrucken, Germany, ang kanyang Critical Interventions: From Joyce and Ibsen to Peirce and Kingston, kasunod ng In the Wake of Terror (Lexington) at US Imperialism and Revolution in the Philippines (Palgrave).–###

Posted in COMMENTARY ON CURRENT EVENTS, DISCOURSES ON CONTRADICTIONS, EXTRAPOLATIONS | Tagged , ,

ABU SAYYAF & BANGSAMORO STRUGGLE: Background to Mamasapano–E.San Juan, Jr.


THE “INVINCIBLE” ABU SAYYAF AND PERMANENT U.S. INTERVENTION IN THE PHILIPPINES
Reflections on the Bangsamoro Struggle for Self-determination

Moros1
[The 1789 Reign of Terror] is the rule of people who themselves are terror-stricken. Terror implies mostly useless cruelties perpetrated by frightened people in order to reassure themselves.

—Friedrich Engels, letter to March, 4 Sept. 1870 (Marx and Engels 1965)

Beginning January 2002, hundreds of U.S. Special Operations Forces have been stationed in the Southern Philippines as part of the US “global war against terror” after 9/11. This deployment was called “Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines,” part of the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. In October 2004, then President Bush singled out the Philippines as one front (the other two are Iraq and Afghanistan) in the US attempt to assert its hegemony in the Middle East, Asia, and throughout the world (Docena 2008).
Last October 2010, US Ambassador Harry Thomas flexed imperial muscles by demanding that the Philippines must eliminate, not just reduce in size, the Abu Sayyaf (ASG), a self-styled Islamic sect which is always linked to Osama bin Laden and the Indonesian terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) responsible for the Bali bombing in 2002 (Bloomberg 2010). In 2001 the ASG beheaded one of three American hostages seized from a Palawan resort, while in 2004 it bombed a passenger ferry on Manila Bay, killing over 100 people. Both groups are always connected with Al Qaeda. Thomas said that “we are at a critical threshold” and the US will continue to send military advisers and aid (such as 25,000 helmets and fast-deploying rubber boats, among others), “as part of its security engagement with Manila” (Agence France-Presse 2010). At the same time, Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin stated that there was no fixed time-table for the presence of US troops in the Philippines involved not only in military campaigns but also in”peace and development,” as verified by US undersecretary of State Wiliam Burns (Siam Daily News 2010). Based on photos taken by Agence France-Press of US troops entering combat zones riding Humvee armored jeeps fully armed, then Makati mayor Jejomar Binay commented that the Arroyo administration was “apparently subcontracting the job of leading the fight against Muslim insurgents to the Americans” (Tribune Online 8/16/2007).
Various websites have confirmed the active participation of the US military (roughly 580-620 members, as of 2009) in combat operations against the ASG and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) where 15 soldiers have already been killed, “including the ten who were lost in a 21002 helicopter crash” (Yon 2009). Civic projects (managed by US-AID and other agencies such as Military Information Support Teams) such as road building, schools, textbook distribution, medical programs, and information outreach, are accessories to the military and police operations, part of the twin policies of drying up the sanctuaries and killing or capturing the hardcore members of ASG.
A month before Thomas’ warning, the US and the Aquino regime staged a demonstration of the threat with the October 21 bombing in Matalam, North Cotabato, attributed to the JIL and a new terrorist sect called Jihadist Ulama intended to replace the ASG. Obviously this recurrent hype about security threats occurs every time there is a move to review the onerous Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a travesty of Philippine sovereignty which has kindled mass outrage. The latest attempt to amplify the panic is the US State Department’s attempt to tag remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as possible funding sources for the ASG. The Department’s October report cited the group’s appeal for funds via the Internet You Tube video of late ASG leaders Abdurajak and Khadaffy Janjalani (killed in 1998 and 2006, respectively) as its basis. No concrete evidence has been offered to substantiate the suspicion. This provides a ploy or ruse not only to renew the VFA but also for the US to intervene in the formal and informal banking and finance sectors of the country through which billion-dollar remittances are channeled to keep the local economy afloat (Esplanada 2010; Madlos 2010). One should also mention the widely publicized indictment of Filipino citizen Madhatta Haipe, allegedly a founding member of the ASG, in a Washington federal court. Extradited to the US in 2009, Haipe pleaded guilty to four counts of hostage taking in a 1995 abduction of 16 people, including 4 US citizens, near Lake Sebu, southern Mindanao (Inquirer 2010). What this bureaucratic legal exercise is meant to accomplish is clear: the Phiilippines is not a safe refuge for anyone who threatens to challenge the long tentacles of the imperial power of the United States.

US Caught In the Quagmire

A direct U.S. colony for about half a century, the Philippines remains a neocolonial formation, with a client collaborative regime (Petras 2007) subordinate to U.S. interests. This singular status of clientship or subordination is erased in current historiography. Consequently, the fallacy of treating the US and the Philippines as equal partners in inter-state relations results in gross misjudgments and absurd expectations.
The strategic US military bases in Clark and Subic Bay, Philippines, was evicted by the Philippine Senate in 1991. However, by virtue of the anomalous Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) signed by then President Estrada in 1999, the US succeeded in establishing a Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines in Camp Navarro, Zamboanga City, the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Western Mindanao Command. This allows the US to participate in counter-insurgency operations against the Moro fighters in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the communist-led New People’s Army (NPA), and factions of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that refused to accept the Arroyo regime. Both the NPA and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) are classified as “terrorist” organizations by the U.S. State Department.
For now, the ASG has become the target of US surveillance by unmanned spy planes (drones); this intelligence gathering directly aids in the AFP’s combat operations. In 2002, for example, a Moro peasant in Basilan suspected to be an ASG follower, Buyong-buyong Isnijal, was shot by US Sgt. Reggie Lane; no serious investigation was made about this incident despite a Congressional resolution. In Feb. 2008, one of the few survivors of the Maimbung massacre in Sulu, Sandrawina Wahid, witnessed US troops engaged in the Philippine military’s assault on the town where eight civilians were killed, including Rowina’s husband, two teenagers, two children, and a three-month pregnant woman. Another incident hit the headlines recently when a Philippine Army captain Javier Ignacio was killed while investigating the previous murder by US military personnel of a Filipino employee Gregan Cardeno. Hired by US company DynCorp International, Cardeno was assigned to the Liaison Coordination Element, a unit of the US military, based in Camp Ranao, Marawi City (Carol Araullo, “Streetwise,” Business World, 11-12 June 2010). The death of Cardeno exposed the clandestine unit engaged in work that appears in violation of Philippine laws and its sovereignty; the activities of DynCorp and other secret companies have likewise not been disclosed, contradicting the US Embassy claim that the US Special Forces are confined to openly conducted civic/humanitarian projects such as building roads, schools, etc.
On September 29, 2009, two American soldiers were killed by a landmine planted by the MNLF in Indanan, Jolo. These two are now considered the first casualties since the Balikatan exercises in 2001, although several US soldiers died in fighting in Sulu three or four years ago. This was a reprisal for the Philippine Marines’ bombing of Muslim devotees in religious rites on September 20 in the same town. A local observer, Prof. Julkipli Wadi noted that the US muted this incident to avoid jeopardizing its humanitarian stance. Wadi cites the October 2009 visit of US embassy officials to the MILF leadership in Sultan Kudarat, Mindanao, where these officials were lectured by the MILF deputy chieftain Ghazali Jaafar; according to Wadi, Jaafar told them that “Washington must help in the resolution of the Mindanao problem by addressing the root cause, which is political, emanating from the grant of US independence to the Philippines,” which “immorally and illegally incorporated the Bangsamoro homeland” (“US Strategic Avoidance,” MindNews, 20 October 2009). Wadi described US soldiers entrenching themselves in many parts of Zamboanga, Basilan, Jolo and parts of Tawi-Tawi, and asks “how long would US authorities pursue the policy of strategic avoidance by hiding under the veneer of counterinsurgency and war on international terrorism while entrenching deeper in the hinterlands and seas of the Sulu Archipelago without being known by the American public?” Obviously, aside from propping up the neocolonial Filipino elite and thus advancing its global geopolitical strategy, the US would like to take advantage of the natural and human resources of Mindanao and Sulu, and its ideal location as a springboard to intervention in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the whole of Indochina as a means of encircling China, their ultimate competitor.
Certainly, U.S. power and legitimacy or cultural authority are at stake. But the preponderant use of military power and logistics undermines any pretense of humanitarian motives. Boston University professor Andrew Bacevich reminds the US public that in 1903, Theodore Roosevelt ordered General Leonard Wood to pacify the Moro province, home to about 250,000 Filipino Muslims then. In March 1906, at Bud Dajo, Jolo, just to cite one incident, the American pacifiers killed 600 Muslims, including many women and children—a “disagreeable” by-product, what is called by the Pentagon “collateral damage” (“Caution: Moral Snares Ahead,” Los Angeles Times, 22 Jan., 2002). It is not just moral snare or hubris that explains this propensity to complacently offer thousands of human lives to the altar of Empire; it is the logic of capitalist expansion, the motor of profit gained from alienated labor/lives, that propels white supremacy and its civilizing mission—the hallmark of US imperial presence in Mindanao and Sulu, an an amoral hegemon whose crimes against humanity elude the MILF leaders, thus their naive plea to Washington to assist their cause by mediating the conflict between them and the Arroyo regime.
But there are other players in the scene, of course. In 1987, the Moro historian Samuel K. Tan expressed his belief that the national community remains divided between the Christian “national community” and what he calls the “cultural communities,” referring to the Moros and the non-Christian Lumads and Cordillera peoples. Is democracy coming to an end in the emergence of “a nation of multiple state-systems”? Tan is critical of the Christian sector’s drive to create a “Christian nation in Asia regardless of the implications to the cultural communities,” as evinced in the program to unite the Philippines on the basis of an ideological secular basis summed up in the slogan “one nation, one spirit” (1987, 72). What Tan ignores is that the secular neocolonial state as it has historically evolved cannot fully exercise its sovereignty over all the communities without the aid of US political, military and diplomatic assistance. It is indeed an instrument to foster global capitalism’s welfare. Moreover, the problem of unequal power is not primarily a question of culture but of control over resources and land, ultimately a question of political leadership and organization. In any case, the fate of the “three communities” is now a matter of international or global concern, as evidenced by the sordid plight of OFWs languishing in jails around the world and by Filipino progressives appealing to the UN Human Rights Council and the World Council of Churches on behalf of thousands of victims of extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, torture, and a reign of impunity for crimes against humanity by the U.S.-funded military and police forces of the Arroyo regime and its oligarchic allies. Since the end of the Cold War, the upsurge of counterhegemonic forces against US imperial dominance in Asia, Africa and Latin America cannot be ignored or under-estimated.
At least since the Tripoli Agreement of 1976, the Moro struggle for autonomy or independence has become internationalized. With the entry of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Conference), the MNLF and MILF have become dependent on the mterial and political support of Islamic countries. The mediating roles of Indonesia and Malaysia as key members of the OIC need no further clarification. The preponderant US role remains ineluctable. What is occurring in the Philippines as an arena of class and national struggles should be analyzed in this historical geopolitical context to understand properly the significance of the Moro people’s struggle for self-determination.
In the last twenty years, particularly after the reinstatement of “elite democracy” with the fall of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986, the US re-asserted its total domination of the Philippines with the Aquino-Ramos regime. While Corazon Aquino’s “total war” on the Communist-led New People’s Army continued under U.S. direction (sanctioned by numerous treaties and executive agreements), the power of the nationalist movement since formal independence in 1946 demonstrated its subterranean force in the expulsion of the U.S. military bases in 1992. It was the loss of these bases that confronted US imperial planners, a loss immediately solved by means of the “Visiting Forces Agreement” initiated by Fidel Ramos, a general tutored by the Pentagon. But this agreement required justification or legitimacy, which explains the “Abu Sayyaf” phenomenon and the elaborate overt and covert intervention of the U.S.—directly, this time, via the Pentagon, US State Department (via US Embassy), US Institute of Peace, US-AID, and others (see Chaulia 2009)—in the initially secessionist/separatist insurgency led by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The Missing Link: CIA Frankenstein

What is most intriguing is the persistence of the “Abu Sayyaf” (ASG) terrorist group as an integral part of an expanding US military presence in the Philippines. Not a day passes when somewhere a news report of the Abu Sayyaf is found with always a mention of its Al-Qaida link, origin, or connection. For example, the Feb. 2005 BBC “Guide to the Philippine conflict” lists down the MNLF, MILF, the NPA, and the Abu Sayyaf as the “main rebel factions” in Mindanao. It recites the oft-repeated factoids: The ASG split off from the MNLF in 1991 under the leadership of Abdurajik Janjalani (killed in December 1998), succeeded by his less doctrine-driven brother Khadafi Janjalani, whose death in September 2006 precipitated the disintegration of the group into multiple factions. From a thousand combatants in the beginning, it has shrunk to 400 or less members
Given its record of kidnapping-for-ransom, massacres, and bombings (often mentioned is the October 2004 bombing of the Superferry 14 in Manila Bay, with 116 people killed, the ASG has acquired a high-profile “terrorist” aura. The kidnappings in Sipadan, Malaysia, in April 2000 and the May 2001 raid on a Palawan resort and the subsequent rescue of Grace Burnham, catapulted the group into the status of media celebrity. Meanwhile, the Al-Qaida connection has been reinforced by association with the Indonesian group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) noted for the 2002 Bali carnage. The April 13, 2010 raid in Isabela, Basilan, by ASG members disguised as police commandos, led by Puruji Indama, revitalized its 2 decades of deadly mayhem.
All accounts agree about the origin of the ASG in the US Central Intelligence Agency ‘s (CIA) role in training mujahideens from various countries to fight the US proxy war in Aghanistan against the Soviets (1979-1989). In May 2008, Senator Aquilino Pimentel described the ASG a “CIA monster” trained by AFP officers in the southern Philippines and directed by informers/spies such as its former leader Edwin Angeles (Santuario 2009). In his book Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, American and International Terrorism, Jon K. Cooley documented the CIA training and funding of the ASG—freedom-fighters such as Osama bin Laden engaged in jihad against the communist infidel—around 1986 in Peshawar, Pakistan; one of the veterans was Abdurajak Janjalani (Santuario 2009; Bengwayan 2002). Accordingly, Prof. Mahmood Mamdani of Columbia University calls the CIA-created ASG and bin Laden’s followers as “alternatives to secular nationalism,” and fundamentalist terrorism as an integral modern project, for which US imperial aggression around the world is chiefly responsible (2002).
A recent writeup of this “al-Qaida-linked extremist group” now claims that its present leader, Khair Mundus, has been receiving funds from Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. It is alleged that he once transferred these funds to Khadaffy Janjalani in 2001-2003. No less than the US State Department alleges that Mundus, while in police custody in 2004, “confessed to having arranged the transfer of al-Qiada funds to an ASG chief to finance bombings and other attacks” (“Abu Sayyaf faction,” GMANews.TV). The US is offering half-a-million dollars for the arrest of this ideologically inspired agent. The Basilan-based group has supposedly given sanctuary to Dulmatin, a key suspect in the Bali carnage, hence the interest of the US State Department (which explains why he has been reported killed several times). Aside from Mundus and Dulmatin, another Bali bomber Umar Patek has been tagged by the US-funded Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research as operating in Tawi-Tawi province (ABS-CBNNews.com 2010).
Since Abdurajak Janjalani’s death, the group has lost interest in Islamic goals and degenerated into banditry and “high impact terrorist activities.” But Mundus is trying to revive its Islamic evangelism and unite the factions spread out in Basilan, Sulu and Zamboanga, influencing even Puruji Indama, the guerilla blamed for the brutal beheading of 10 marines in a 2007 encounter in Basilan. A clear tendency of the media propaganda machine has emerged to infuse ideological and political substance to the ASG which, since at least 1998, has simply become a criminal outfit for easy containment by the local police, not by the heavily armed US Special Forces with technologically sophisticated spy equipment and drones. The journalists Marites Vitug and Glenda Gloria named Gen. Guillermo Ruiz, former Marine commander and police officials Leandro Mendoza and Rodolfo Mendoza as coddlers/patrons of the ASG (Bengwayan 2002).
Anatomy of a Faction

Clearly, without the presence of this group with its flagrant, highly visible kidnappings and bombings, the rationale for US military intervention would lose credibility. It is not secret that the AFP, so much dependent on US Pentagon logistics and equipment, would not really be able to challenge the NPA, its perennial military target, as long as the political, economic and social conditions warrant its existence. US geopolitical strategy for maintaining hegemony in Asia and around the world requires its presence in the Philippines, hence the need for ASG’s terrorist identity and anti-people behavior.
We can learn more about US ideological rationale from a U.S.Institute of Peace academic expert Zachary Abuza’s recent summing-up in response to the April 13 raid on Isabela City, the capital of the island province of Basilan. Abuza rehearses the founder’s past as an Afghan mujahidin and the founding of the group in 1991 “with al-Qa’ida seed money” (Abuza 2010, 11). Muhammad Jamal Khalifa, an Osama bin Laden connection, and Ramzi Yousef, famous for plotting the bombing of multiple commercial airliners, are mentioned to reinforce its international terrorist standing. ASG orientation changed from being sectarian (1991-1996) to being purely monetary (2000-2001), with over 140 hostages (16 of whom were killed) ranging from Western tourists, school children, priests and ordinary people.
Clearly the ASG will never disappear, if not in reality at least in the media. In 2003-2004, with leaders Abu Sabaya and Ghalib Andang killed (followed by Abu Solaiman in January 2007), ASG is tied with the Indonesian terrorist JI as well as with Malaysian terrorists. It is at this point that the ASG becomes more frequently associated with the MILF which employs the ASG for bombing campaigns and also for infiltrating the Sulu archipelago, mostly controlled by the Tausug-dominaed MNLF. Despite the loss of its leaders (the latest being Albader Parad), the ASG keeps coming back like a hydra-headed monster, almost chameolonic too in adapting to changing environments. Its public face will metamorphose or metastize relative to the two main groups, the MNLF and MILF.
The latest attempt to spread the ASG contagion to other parties in the region may be gleaned from Abuza’s claim that the ASG has recruited new combatants from the MNLF under Habier Malik in March 2007. But the bombings and kidnappings did not subside in 2008-2009, with two US soldiers killed in the 2009 Jolo bombing. Philippine generals and Marine commanders all concur that the ASG has been decapitated and falling apart, even while attacks are continuing. A new line is being established: the Pakistani connection. One Abdulabasit Usman was killed by a U.S. drone attack in Waziristan, the Afghan-Pakistan border. This Usman is suspected to be a member of the MILP, the JI, ASG, and also “an independent gun for hire.” Abuza nonetheless states as a fact that “What is clear is that he worked at times as a bomber and trainer for both the ASG and MILF.” Thus linkages are at first hypothesized, posited, and then simply asserted as a factoid for the record.
The death of Dulmatin occasions the suspicion that al-Qai’da in Malaysia and Aceh are using the ASG and the MILF as channels connecting Arab militants and South Asian (Pakistan and Afghanistan) fighters with southeast Asian organizations. In any case, the ASG and MILF are now interwoven with Al-Qai’da operations in the Indonesian-Malaysian region. The MILF has been accused of harboring Rajah Solaiman (recently labeled “terrorist” by the US State Department), Pentagon Gang and JI terrorist agents. Jihadist violence and criminal kidnapping-for-ransom characterize ASG with close working relations with the MILF and disaffected elements of the MNLF. Abuza concludes that despite its successes, the “Philippine military does not appear to have the capacity nor the will to finish the job militarily, and the government’s refusal to develop a holistic peace process in the southern Philippines….will continue to support the ASG’s ranks” (2010, 13). The unstated implication is that US military intervention to advance its own strategic geopolitical-cum-economic interest, cannot be given up lest the whole battlefront is lost to anti-systemic Islamic-led extremism. Meanwhile, Ibrahim Murad of the IMLF warned last August that US troops’ sojourn in Mindanao “only complicates the situation. They are just simply justifying their presence for terrorist elements” (News Essentials 2010).

Provisional Inventory

What is the situation now after 13 years of GRP-MILF peace talks? Let me provide a drastic schematic framework within which to view the current impasse affecting at least 6-9 million Muslims (10% of the total population) in over 700 villages, mainly within the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The 2008 agreement between the GRP and MILF was scrapped in 2008 as “unconstitutional.” The MNLF is deeply factionalized, with Misuari still in jail. From its official emergence in Nov. 14, 1972, immediately after Marcos’ declaration of martial law, to Dec. 1976, with the signing of the Tripoli Agreement, and its final actualization in the 1996 peace agreement between Fidel Ramos and Nur Misuari, the MNLF (with 30,000 fighters in 1973-75) seems to have wasted its decades of lessons and experience. Misuari’s arrest after the failed Jolo and Zamboanga rebellion in Nov. 2001 may lead to the gradual exodus of his followers into the camps of the MILF, the ASG, or even government fronts. Meanwhile, splitting from the MNLF in 1977, the MILF pursued the armed struggle under Hashim Salamat as “jihad fi sabilillah (struggle in the way of Allah)—a sectarian, fundamentalist trend which runs immanent in the peace negotiations with the Arroyo regime (Klitzsch 2009). The peace agreement signed on May 7, 2002, with Arroyo culminated in the Memorandum of Agreement on “Ancestral Domain” (MOA-AD) and the issue of the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (JEC), which was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2008. Now, the March peace talks in Kuala Lumpur witnessed a controversy over the use of the Philippine Constitution and the Republic’s jurisprudence as the existing legal framework (requiring amendment) for a revised peace agreement (Balana 2010; Rosauro 2010). The resort to the internationalist idiom of “self-determination” (with its Wilsonian, not Leninist precedents) does not guarantee actual political/military control over territory and natural resources if it conflicts with the overarching sovereignty of the neocolonial State. Misuari’s experience in administering the ARMN fully bears this out (Dela Cruz 2006).
Given the severely uneven development of the region, diverse class and sectoral interests are involved. The Lumads or indigenous ethnic communities have recently mobilized. The hostility of the Christian landlords, business, comprador, and foreign corporate fronts in Mindanao rests on varied grounds, some diehard and some amenable to compromise. The present regime speaks of course for the US/Washington Consensus, for global capital and transnational corporate interests and their local allies, so that unless the MILF addresses this structural and institutional constraints, the iniquitous status quo will not be altered in any substantial or meaningful way so as to improve the material lives of the Moro masses, not to speak of the Lumads and other indigenous communities.
Meanwhile, notwithstanding the mobilization of 10,000 armed combatants and several thousand partisans, MILF ascendancy remains contested, hence their wobbly diplomatic stance. Overall, the primary cause for persisting armed confrontations is the absence of any hegemonic (intellectual and moral leadership, in Gramsci’s sense) power in Mindanao as a whole, though the MNLF once enjoyed such in the Tausug homeland of Sulu. The MILF has suffered from a marked opportunism, as evidenced in Salamat’s January 2003 letter to George Bush “seeking his good offices,” and the MILF’s assent to allowing the US Institute of Peace (USIP) to intervene. In fact, by June 2003, the US State Department laid down its policies for the GRP-MILF peace negotiations. USIP Philippine Facilitation Project Executive Director Eugene Martin’s explanation for US involvement deserves to be quoted here:

The continued conflict was seen as a source of not only domestic instability but a potential threat regionally and even globally. As such, it became part of the war on terror, although the MILF is not considered a terrorist organization. Increased military assistance to the AFP and joint exercises, like Balikatan, were focused on helping the AFP be more professional and effective against designated terrorist groups such as the NDF and the Abu Sayyaf Group (quoted in Santos 2005, 100).

Martin acknowledges that the conflict cannot be solved “by purely military means,” so he cites the underlying causes—poverty, lack of development and education, and displacement of Muslims from ancestral lands—as the reason why the US is involved. This of course does not overshadow the main concern, “the war on terror.” Unlike other commentators, Martin does not neglect naming the NDF together with the ASG as “terrorist organizations.”
In terms of profit-centered Realpolitik, US interest in the Moro insurgents is designed to coopt this force as much as possible and manipulate it for geopolitical ends. This does not preclude its purpose of serving as a pretext or cover for preparing the ground in suppressing the NDF/NPA as well as the possibly more dangerous Indonesian and Malaysian affiliates of al-Qaida/Osama bin Laden. Aside from USIP ideological and political input, the US has made overtures to the MILF leadership on the possibility of using MILF “ancestral domain” for military bases, to which the MILF leadership replied that “everything is negotiable.” Astrid Tuminez (2008), a USIP operative, confirms the US focus on Mindanao as a new “Mecca of terrorism,” a half-concealed rationale which thus legitimizes the thorough involvement of the US government in the current peace talks as well as the regular “Balikatan” war exercises and civic-action activities of the US military contingent in the Philippines.

Never Again “Benevolent Assimilation”

US dominance, both political, military and ideological, cannot be discounted. Even those who purport to be neutral or well-intentioned observers succumb to the fallacy of believing the US a neutral or benevolent mediator in the conflict. In his book, Dynamics and Directions of the Grp-MILF Peace Negotiations (2005) that Soliman Santos Jr., for example, naively claims “that US clout can play a positive role as guarantor of a just and lasting peace agreement” even as he admits that for the US the global war on terrorism is its chief concern.
Terrorism, die-hard separatism, is not necessarily the polar opposite of compromise and bargaining with the Arroyo regime for temporary concessions. Like the MNLF, the MILG knows that it cannot win solely by military means. With the realization that conventional warfare is not feasible to advance a separatist project of full independence, esp. with the loss of fixed camps (first, the Abubakar camp and then the Buliok Complex) and millions of their followers displaced and reduced to refugees, the MILF has shifted to a pragmatic, if somewhat opportunist, mode of diplomacy. While the aim of Islamization seems to persist as a cultural identity brand, despite the passing of Hashim Salamat and his adherence to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s doctrine of jihadism {Klitzsch has ably documented this genealogy of Salamat’s thinking), I think the present MILF leadership has realized that they cannot deliver immediate benefits to its ranks and the popular base unless some gains in the diplomatic/legal front are achieved. While Islamism (jihadist or merely didactic) appeases those militants vulnerable to the ASG appeal, the need to produce material rewards is urgent lest the mass base turn to the MNLF or, even worse, the traditional Moro oligarchy. The tactical changes may be discerned in the 2004 statement by the MILFG Peace Panel Advisor that the MILF “strives for a ‘political solution’—‘neither full independence nor autonomy, ‘but ‘somewhere in between’ “ (quoted in Klitzsch 2009, 166). Murad Ebrahim was also quoted in saying that the territory they will administer as BJE will be “governed with Islamic precepts” (Robles 2010). Of course, these may just be propaganda ploys or publicity subterfuge.
Varying commentaries on the conflict register as symptoms of disparate theoretical frameworks and axiomatic paradigms. The common error of mainstream academic scholarship, as well as media punditry, in this matter—i.e. the failure to locate the Moro struggle within the US global strategy to maintain its imperial hegemony—stems, of course, from either deliberate advocacy for neoliberal free-market worldview, or from misguided naivete. The shift of the intellectual paradigm from leftist or progressive historicist views to narrow empiricist and even eclectic postmodernist stances may be perceived in a recent volume edited by Patricio N. Abinales and Nathan Gilbert Quimpo. With the single exception of Herbert Docena’s effort to document active U.S. military collaboration in the war against the Moro insurgents, the contributors range from the narrow “all politics is local” stance of Abinales to Quimpo’s endorsement of the view that the situation in the southern Philippines is a product of internal causes, with the US as peripheral or not centrally involved. Quimpo chimes in with Establishment voices that welcome US intervention. Quimpo harps on the bossist, “patrimonial and ethnocratic” Philippine state, as though it had no historical genealogy or political provenance in US colonial and neocolonial control of the country. He even laments that the US has not addressed the corruption endemic to a patrimonial state. Quimpo believes that the USIP is “an independent federal institution” (2008, 189), while the cynical Abinales celebrates “the fading away of the US in the postauthoritarian scene” pervaded by globalization anomie (2008, 199).
In general, the prospect seems bleak to Quimpo and his associates. In his detailed description of the ASG included in the volume, the military-affiliated academic Rommel Banlaoi dismisses the solid, irrefutable findings of the 2002 International Peace Mission published in their report, “Basilan: The Next Afghanistan?” that the ASG is basically the product of local political and social conditions, in a U.S.neocolony. This judgment has been meticulously supported by a rich trove of stories, interviews, and textured accounts of the ASG’s symbiotic ties with the military, local politicians, and government bureaucracy in many books published since the ASG appeared, among them Marites Danguilan Vitug and Glenda Gloria’s Under the Crescent Moon: Rebellion in Mindanao (2000).
While recognizing that the ASG and other groups are struggling to solve structural inequity and injustice, as well as cultural discrimination and the loss of sovereignty, Banloai’s recommendation is to improve governance into one “more transparent, accountable, responsive and participatory.” (2008, 145). Meanwhile, Kit Collier rejects the primordialist analysis for a more instrumental, postmodernist approach, which uses an ethnographic phenomenological method similar to the anthropologist Frake’s picture of a contested, ambiguous, invented identity of the ASG combatant (see Frake 1998; and my critique in San Juan 2007). All deflect attention away from the larger global context of US re-tooling of imperial hegemony in the wake of the end of the Cold War and, in particular, the post-9/11 “global war on terrorism” launched by George W. Bush and carried on by Barack Obama.

Toward Historical Dialectics

A more serious endeavor to grapple with the vast historical and political landscape into which the Moro struggle is inscribed, is the volume The Moro Reader (2008) published by CENPEG. The volume correctly defines the subordinate role of the Philippine nation-state to the US and its neoliberal program of globalization. What is missing is further elaboration of the concept of “ancestral domain” and the abstract “right of self-determination” within a rigorous historical-materialist analytic. I venture a preliminary clearing of the stage for such an inquiry with a few general propositions/theses.
Only a general review of what is needed can be made here.While I myself (San Juan 2007) have previously endorsed the fundamental imperative of solidarity with the Moro aspiration for independence and separation from the neocolonial domination of the oligarchic landlord-comprador ruling bloc, I would like to reformulate my views in light of the more pronounced MILF ideological doctrine of Islamic evangelical confrontation with the West (deriving either from Egyptian or Saudi Arabian traditions). A theoretical reframing is in order.
Progressive activists need to take into account the primacy given by the MILF and the ASG to Islamization and the project of an Islamic state patterned after Saudi Arabia, Libya, Egypt and other Arab countries. Unlike the MNLF program, the MILH (to my knowledge) has not come up with a thorough analysis of Manila/Christian colonialism, nor its dependence on the imperial US patron, despite its denunciation of settler greed, injustice, ethnic discrimination, etc. To my knowledge (I stand corrected), the MILF has no anti-systemic (anti-capitalist) policy or operational ideal functioning at present. The marginalization of the secularly-oriented MNLF and the outright rejection of Marxist and other socialist-oriented revolutionary ideas aiming for a class-less society is symptomatic of a retrograde impulse influencing the actual tactics and strategy for autonomy. Some have noted the separatist motivation of the Bangsamoro nation to encourage the development of an autocratic, tributary and highly hierarchical sociopolitical formation. “Self-determination” cannot be an absolute principle but must always be historicized and dialectically apprehended within the manifold determinations of social historical development of specific formations within a global context. Can we envisage a popular, democratic civil society/public sphere flourishing within the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity?
Of course, the everyday practice of Moro militants yields a rich complex of data for formulating hypothesis and theoretical propositions that may engender a socialist-democratic ethos. Since culture is a creative process, such is theoretically possible. But empirical data cannot substitute for a valid theoretical framework. I agree with Kenneth Bauzon (2008) that the current conjuncture has to be read within the framework of a resurgent neoliberal restructuring of global capitalism. This is occurring within the US hegemonic “crusade” against Islamic fundamentalism, or violent extremism, itself framed by the neoconservative Huntingtonian paradigm of the “clash of civilizations.” This culturalist interpretation obviates any structural or systemic critique. This is why the understanding and theorization of terrorism as a political phenomenon is also superficial, misleading, and tendentious. It acquires a life of its own divorced from the analysis of dynamic political forces (for example, the antagonism between capital and labor) and their specific agendas and long-range platforms.
Terrorism becomes a political and moral issue when the political group using it adopts a subjectivist mode of imposing its will on the masses. When Marx objected to the Jacobin use of the guillotine as a tactic to impose bourgeois interests on everyone, instead of developing it within the given conditions, he was objecting to this means of enforcing the interests of a particular group/class on the whole society. In opposing the conspiratorial terrorism of utopian socialists and anarchists, Marx argued his dialectical stand that “socialist revolution must develop from within the given social relations and must be directed to the establishment of universal interests’”(Hansen 1977, 102-103)—the revolutionary process, in short, is not superadded but inheres within the existing nexus of sociopolitical relations. Critical analysis of the interaction between the collective actors and their changing sociopolitical environment is needed, together with constant appraisals of the direction of the changes of both subject and object of the field of conflict, to ascertain what can be changed and what cannot—the possibilities and limits of radical historical transformation in the multi-layered Philippine setting.
In this context, the MILF goal of claiming the sovereign power of a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity to rule over “ancestral domain” has been promoted through both conventional war and terrorist tactics (as evidenced by links with Jemaah Islamiya, ASG, and others). Forced to renounce publicly their connections with such groups, Salamat and the MILF leadership has to resort to the OIC and the US to enhance its status as a legitimate political party. Nonetheless, their supreme goal is no longer secession or a separate independent state, but political power over a definite territory and its inhabitants via combination of force and diplomacy. Essentially, it is an attempt to universalize the Will of a political party—the agent of historical change–that claims to represent the whole Moro peoples (across ethnic and class divisions). Now the reality is that any revolutionary party with a democratic-popular orientation has to take into account the social-economic reality and the political alignment of forces both within the Philippines, the southeast Asian region, and within the capitalist world-order (global war on terror by the US-led bloc, including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, etc. against Iraq, Aghanistan, Iran, Cuba, North Korea, and other nation-states).
Ultimately, the Moro rebellion has to confront the power of global capital (at present led by the US power bloc) as the enemy of genuine Moro sovereignty, freedom and progress in a planetary habitat of peoples with diverse cultures, religions, histories, and aspirations.

Self-Determination as Means or End-In-Itself?

The ultimate goal of self-determination cannot be attained simply by fiat, of course, but by a revolutionary program of rejecting colonial occupation and imperialist domination. The MILF rejects the Manila/Christian state and its military forces and affirms its subjective identity (as the MNLF did in opposing Marcos and its US patron). However, the MILF does not mediate its self-proclaimed Islamic identity by the otherness (the concrete social context of a secular world of commodity-relations) in which it finds itself. Hence, it imposes on its mass base a view absorbed from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Islamic centers while paying lip-service to the history of the anti-colonial struggles of Moros as a whole. It is thus caught in a unity of contradictions. “Ancestral domain” tends to be fetishized in its purely Islamic heritage. An abstract self-affirmation of Islamic identity (to distinguish it from Christian/Western others) remains subjectivist/voluntarist as well as philosophical/idealist, susceptible to terrorist realization. Its obverse is the positivist or pragmatic dependence on the OIC, the US, and other sponsors that it calculates will advance its self-identified agenda, given the current volatile contingencies.
From a dialectical stance, the only way to resolve the contradiction between the subjectivist/voluntarist Islamic self-identification of the MILF and its objectivist/pragmatist resort to US/OIC determinants, is to analyse the nature of the unity of these abstract opposites. In other words, the way to resolve the contradictions is by way of discovering the universal logic/principle underlying the project of revolutionary action, assuming that the MILF is engaged in a revolutionary project of emancipation of the Moro people’s potential for expressing its full humanity with others in the world. The past and the present will have to coalesce to shape the historical agent of change whose interests are not particular but universal, the interest of all members of the given society. The search for the revolutionary class or agent which, from the beginning, is the necessary condition of the present—that agent which will bring the future to the present because of its past—is not a theoretical problem but a practical one: “It is a problem of the unity of theory and practice, the co-determining conditions of which are in the present because of the past. Consequently, whereas the subjectivist [terrorist] desires the restoration of the past by means of externalizing a particular subjectivity, the revolutionary needs revolution to realize what is already given in the present through the past” (Hansen 1977, 108). Hence the revolutionary agent does not force onto people a particular view because his view is already present (though occluded or suppressed) in the existing reality.

In Quest of Critical Universality

From a radical-democratic standpoint, the crucial question then is: what is in the existing reality that needs to be released or brought to self-realization? What is that emerging universal within the historical present? To answer this, one needs to critique the total situation to move beyond the abstract subjectivist/voluntarist position and the positivist/determinist one. One needs to achieve a concrete dialectical comprehension of the whole global capitalist totality. To grasp the concrete universal immanent in the historical conjuncture, one needs to generalize the unique condition of the Moro peoples so as to get beyond the particularity that imperialism/capitalism has imposed on it. Capitalism is precisely what enables particularism in social relations and conflicts arising from this, so that the elimination of distinctions cannot be carried out by presupposing differences (cultural or religious values, for example) without unity.
One manifestation of such a unity is perhaps what Muslim historian-philosopher Cesar Majul had in mind when, at the end of his scholarly history of the Moro sultanates and the Moro Wars, he proposed that the Muslim struggle should “be considered part of the heritage of the Filipino people in the history of their struggle for freedom…part of the struggle of the entire nation” (1999, 410). If the surveys are to be believed, more Filipinos now than before (63% in 2005, compared to 43% in 2002) are sympathetic to the Moro struggle for their right to govern themselves (Robles 2010).
We are not proposing pluralism or status quo multiculturalism, a bazaar of affective flux and performative gestures, either corporate liberalism or individualist libertarianism, both apparent opposites concretizing the ideology of bourgeois society based on the division of labor and its attendant disparities in the distribution of power and resources. What we are proposing is to free ourselves from this enslaving ideology that teaches the idea that authentic self-expression (or, by extension, national self-determination) depends on an abstract property which guarantees authenticity, freedom, fulfillment. In short, we are searching for the politicized, active mass base of the Moro revolution that will universalize its goals by a thorough critique of global capitalism (led by the US imperial power) and, in the process, forge organic solidarity with the entire Filipino people struggling for democratic socialism. Such a critical universality will resolve the contradictions between subjectivism and objectivism I have outlined earlier.
As of now, such a critical universality is absent. One sign is the lack of a critique of the Moro dynasties and clans and the property relations characterizing the everyday experience of the Moro peasants, women, workers, youth (Wadi 2008), or of the prison conditions afflicting Moros in Camp Bagong Diwa (Vargas 2005), not to speak of taking cognizance of analogous Lumad demands for self-determination over ancestral domains (for Lumad aspirations, see Rodil 1993). A way of revising the deployment of the principle of self-determination is proposed by Talal Asad by distinguishing between the concept of Arab nationalism and a classical Islamism that contains an element of “critical universality” by an implicit critique of the secular bourgeois nation-state. It is necessary to define the narrow bourgeois nation-state parameters into which the Bangsamoro nation is being confined. Asad observes:
The fact that the expression umma ‘arabiyya is used today to denote the “Arab nation” represents a major conceptual transformation by which umma is cut off from the theological predicates that gave it its universalizing power and is made to stand for an imagined community that is equivalent to a total political society, limited and sovereign like other limited and sovereign nations in a secular (social) world. The ummatu-l-muslimin (the Islamic umma) is ideologically not “a society” onto which state, economy, and religion can be mapped. It is neither limited nor sovereign, for unlike Arab nationalism’s notion of al-umma-al-arabiyya, it can and should embrace all of humanity….The main point I underline here is that Islamism’s preoccupation with state power is the result not of its commitment to nationalist ideas but of the modern nation-state’s enforced claim to constitute social identities and arenas (2003, 197-98, 200).

One inspiring sign of “critical universality” may be found in the MNLF’s participation in the 1981 Permanent People’s Tribunal and its solidarity with the NDF and other forces in opposing US imperialism. At present, it is difficult to say whether the MILF recognizes the need to achieve a “critical universality” (Lowy 1998, 78) in its program, policies, and diplomatic positions. In my view, subject to the pressures and exigencies of every phase in its negotiations with the GRP and relations with the OIC and the US, the alternating options of subjectivist/voluntarist and objectivist/pragmatist handling of the struggle distinguish the MILF record so far. With unpredictable dynamic changes in the Islamic world vis-à-vis the US, the internal antagonisms in the OIC and its relations with other blocs (Europe, Russia, China), and the advance of the national-democratic forces in the Philippines, it is not impossible that the succeeding generation of leaders and rank-and-file militants will respond to the need for articulating that critical universality without which the revolutionary project of collective emancipation will remain doomed to repeat the horrors of the past and miseries of the present.

The Prospectt Before Us

The Moro people’s struggle in the Philippines for national self-determination has placed under critical interrogation the hallowed theories of cultural pluralism, liberal tolerance, and muticulturalism that continue to legitimize the domination of diverse ethnic groups under elite control in contemporary Filipino society. Bourgeois political norms and laws have led since colonial times to the severe dispossession, exclusion, and utter impoverishment of the Moro people as a distinct historical community united under Islamic faith and an uninterrupted history of preserving its relative autonomy through various modes (collective, familial, personal) of anticolonial resistance. Since the Spanish (1621-1898) and American colonial period (1899-1946) up to the present Arroyo government’s neocolonial polity subservient to U.S. hegemony, the Moro people have suffered national, class, and religious oppression. The Moro insurgents are labeled “terrorists” and stigmatized daily by the media, schools, Christian churches, and international business. They tend to be lumped with the Abu Sayyaf bandits, wholly a product of gangsterism involving the military, police, local officials, and the central government bureaucracy. It is the obligation of Filipino Marxists and progressive organizations around the world to recognize the Moro people’s right to self-determination and offer solidarity. In my book US Imperialism and Revolution in the Philippines (2007), I have tried to express this solidarity by a preliminary critique of neoliberal ideology, including sectarian ultra-leftism, that apologizes for, and foments overtly and covertly, the genocidal wars currently raging in the Moro homelands of southern Philippines. This paper is an attempt to explore the theoretical and practical limits of “self-determination” as a political strategy when, in this specific conjuncture, U.S. imperial manipulations are defining this Wilsonian principle for its own hegemonic interests. I propose that a historical-materialist socialist perspective (following Lenin’s use of the principle of the right of nations to self-determination), with modifications as suggested by Talal Asad, be pursued and developed in the light of the singular historical circumstances of the BangsaMoro struggle against local compradors, landlords, and bureaucrat-capitalists allied with the U.S. imperial hegemon and its transnational criminal accomplices. At the least, we need to pursue the ideals of justice and principled solidarity with all oppressed peoples who have long been victimized by global capitalism and the neoliberal market in the name of the global North’s deadly ideas of freedom, democracy, and cosmopolitan progress.

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ABSTRACT: The December 2010 indictment in a Washington federal court of the Filipino citizen Madhatta Haipe, presumed a charter member of the Abu Sayyaf Islamic separatist group in the Philippines, demonstrates the United States’ strategic drive to criminalize the struggle of the Moro peoples. Without analyzing the manifold context of “terrorism” as a socio-historical symptom of injustice and inequality, the U.S. persists in trying to delegitimize the Bangsa Moro demand for self-determination. Working through Filipino neocolonial instrumentalities, the US and its local elite agents attempt to convert age-old class, racial and ethnic conflicts into a discourse of war between civilizational/religious forces (Christianity versus Islam), or a war between extremists and civil society. Mixing propaganda of Cold War vintage and neoliberal globalization rhetoric, the Global North’s hegemonic power finds a way to resolve its accumulation crisis by intensifying ideological schisms that reproduce genocidal oppression and indiscriminate violence. Meanwhile, the Moro people’s struggle for autonomy and sovereignty, for equality and independence, continues to serve as a challenge and crucible for the U.S. reassertion of its imperial “Manifest Destiny” in Southeast Asia. In the context of the renewed negotiations between the government headed by newly-elected President Benigno Aquino Jr. and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, this essay re-examines the concept of self-determination from the viewpoint of critical universality and materialist dialectics.–##

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