Eduardo Año should learn from history: Anti-Subversion Law targets legal democratic groups and pushes them into the underground movement

It is a question that deems asking: When the ever-intolerant Eduardo Año proposed to revive the Anti-Subversion Law of 1957 since it was repealed in 1992, did it ever occur to him to contemplate how this dinosaur of a law could crush the revolutionary organization now when it could not do so after 35 years of enactment?

The law obviously has its own history. It is something that the Interior Secretary, in his narrow-mindedness, would rather forgo than heed. Even some Senate members acknowledged that Republic Act (RA) 1700 undermined a number of important human rights guaranteed by the 1987 Philippine Constitution, aside from being prone to abuse and a tool to harass critics of the government. They recognized that this law is in direct conflict with the right to assembly and association as well as the equal protection clause of the entire Bill of Rights.

With what Año and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) now have in mind, there is to be a bloodier repetition of history. The said measure will certainly be used to silence critics and legalize repression of human, civil and political rights. A mere statement to challenge any government action or inaction will be construed as subversion, much more so if two or more persons discuss the systemic faults of the Philippine society. To hold a dissenting opinion will be rewarded with criminal prosecution. Año seeks to replicate his own nature by creating unthinking puppets out of all Filipinos and eliminating the rest through lifetime incarceration or the death penalty.

This will be especially intense and alarming in the countryside where feudal rule of the landowning class is closely tied with armed violence, either of private armies or from deployed units of the Philippine Army itself. Feudal lords are warlords, and not just in the sense of political rivalries where peasant masses often find themselves caught in the crossfire.

Feudal rule means mailed fist used against farmers and their families at every turn to make them submit to various forms of injustices. The burning demand for change is most prevalent in an agrarian setting where the class struggle is at its sharpest. Worse, if the Anti-Subversion Law is indeed restored, such will surely be countered with trumped-up criminal charges instead of being duly addressed.

Once re-passed, this law can be used by political dynasties, or any other ruling faction, to avoid accountability. For instance, those who anomalously used previously disbursed funds from the tobacco excise taxes under RAs 7171 and 8240 will be able to rest easy for they can simply call anyone demanding culpability as subversive.
Año attempts to muddle the issue by claiming that the target of this law is the communist party and organizations under it. But how many times has legal organizations and progressive individuals been tagged as communist and then vilified? Even progressive party lists that were recognized by the Commission on Elections cannot escape AFP’s Red-tagging. Unfair and damaging as it might be, Regional Task Forces to End Local Communist Armed Conflict pale in comparison to the Anti-Subversion Law. With Rodrigo Duterte at the helm, it can only be a prelude to a nationwide Martial Law.
WHILE SOME RELATIVELY CRITICAL SENATORS warn against this draconian measure, what went unacknowledged is that it also served to advance the revolutionary struggle. Violations against the legal democratic movement was so prevalent that it pushed hundreds into the armed underground movement. Due to the accumulated strength of the revolutionary movement, especially that of the armed revolution, the Ramos administration was pushed to engage in peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) where one of the victories of the people is the abolishment of this same law.

Año is something of a hoary horse wearing blinders and too intent on one impossible path, that is to crush the Communist movement in the country. The whipping he receives from calesa driver Rodrigo Duterte causes him to move forward but not to think this proposal through. In truth, even a quick review of the current world situation will show him that most countries have abolished their respective versions of the Anti-Subversion Law, including the most developed nations. He and the proponents of this law should learn not just from history but also from current international trends.

The international Communist movement, on the other hand, is steadily gaining ground towards more and more victories. Overcoming fascism and rising stronger and smarter from it is a significant part of the people and the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) histories. From Day One of Año’s absurd proposal, the Filipino people has proven that it will not take the reenactment of this law sitting down.

All the revolutionary forces in the Ilocos Region will continue to arouse, organize and mobilize the people as is morally rightful to do so, this time with the added issue of having this same right threatened. Before the day is over, the revolutionary people will make another history lesson out of Año and the rest of the Duterte regime. ###

Eduardo Año should learn from history: Anti-Subversion Law targets legal democratic groups and pushes them into the underground movement