A “figment of the imagination”–the usual assassin on a motorcycle–killed a Church activist last Saturday at about the same time that Raul Gonzalez was declaring that civilian deaths “can’t be avoided” in the “new” Arroyo campaign against “the Left.”

Tito Marata of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines was shot dead in Oroquieta City, Misamis Occidental. While Marata was being shot, Gonzalez was not only saying that “collateral damage” was inevitable once the Arroyo regime’s billion-peso anti-Left campaign got off the ground. He also said that the killing of activists with at least “government acquiescence” (Amnesty International’s phrase) was “a figment of (the militant groups’) imagination.”

Although every day makes him more and more like a creature from everyone’s worst–ok, second worst–nightmare, Gonzalez is no figment of the imagination. Yes, Virginia, this is the Secretary of Justice of this great democracy–and yes, Virginia, he did say that civilians could be hurt or killed in the course of the implementation of the Arroyo regime’s total war against the Left.

That’s not just a self-fulfilling prophecy, given the Arroyo regime’s genius for making the worst things that anyone can imagine happen. That’s a description of what’s already happening. By being killed last Saturday, Marata became either the 231st or the 600th-something (depending on who’s doing the counting) casualty of the Arroyo regime’s total war against political activists and NPA guerillas, whom it collectively refers to as “the Left.”

It was undeclared until Friday, when Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ordered the military and police to crush “the Left” within two years (or is it five? Six? Ten?). But the war, except for occasional lapses into “peace negotiations,” has been going on since 2001. That was when EDSA 2 made the ghastly mistake of ousting a womanizer from office, and installed a junior version of Marie Antoinette and an extra large version of Louis XIV in his place.

In what’s likely to be remembered as another Filipino equivalent of “let them eat cake,” Mrs. Arroyo in fact let slip last week that “the fight against the Left is the glue that binds.” That binds what? Why, the motley crew that’s been running the country of our sorrows into the ground, that’s what.

This crew is headed by Mrs. Arroyo–with, of course, considerable help from her husband and family. But it also includes such big bureaucrats as Gonzalez himself, National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales (and the former Jesuit provincial behind him who’s the real ideologue of the regime), Avelino Cruz of Defense, former Marcos underling Eduardo Ermita, Arroyo Chief of Staff Michael Defensor, such generals as Jovito Palparan, and the countless political and business cronies Mrs. Arroyo has amassed over her many years as senator, vice president, and (disputed) president.

Mrs. Arroyo’s statement about glue and “the Left” makes it appear that they’re all in this together as a matter of anti-communist principle–as Marcos, his generals and his cronies supposedly were from 1972 to 1986. But today as in the martial law years, what really sticks things together is money. The P1 billion Mrs. Arroyo wants released for the purchase of attack helicopters and other aircraft, plus the P75 billion she says would be spent on socio-economic projects, should help sustain gang unity.

The possibility that those billions could end up in the bank accounts of various generals and bureaucrats, or at least partly used to assure regime triumph in next year’s local elections, Gonzalez would probably dismiss as another “figment of the imagination.” But there’s no getting around the fact that only two years ago one general alone, thanks to his past authority to sign contracts and release funds, was rolling in enough millions to afford two homes in the United States and to send his wife on US,000 shopping trips. Like Gonzalez, retired general Carlos F. Garcia, his free-spending wife Clarita and their children, are no figments of the imagination either. They’re all horribly real.

The real figments of the imagination are the regime’s lumping legal political activists and NPA guerillas together into something called “the Left,” and its insistence on “the Left’s” having a unified, central leadership that extends all the way to Jose Ma. Sison in Utrecht.

Anyone with an IQ higher than a garden snail’s should know the difference between political activists and armed guerillas. But dismissing the difference is a convenient and deliberate subterfuge that allows and justifies the systematic and unabated killing of unarmed civilians.

Gonzalez is in fact wrong. Civilian deaths in Arroyo’s Enchanted Kingdom are not “collateral damage” as we’ve heard the term used in Vietnam in the 1970s and in Iraq currently. Civilian activists are instead actually targeted, not mistakenly killed, because in the regime’s depraved view, they’re part of “the Left” and no different from NPA guerillas.

Meanwhile, as part of its “new” strategy of “decapitating” the NPA leadership, the regime has filed over 600 criminal cases against Jose Ma. Sison. Unbeknownst to its exceptionally bright boys and girls, that tactic should make most people in civilized countries wonder just how Sison was able to assassinate, massacre and generally commit all manner of murder and mayhem all the way from Utrecht the Netherlands, where, thanks to a cancelled passport, he’s been living in exile for over a decade.

No, Virginia, this regime is not a figment of anyone’s imagination. If only it were.

(Business Mirror)

Luis V. Teodoro

Prof. Luis V. Teodoro is a former dean of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication, where he used to teach journalism. He writes political commentary for BusinessWorld.

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  1. Unfotunately, a volunteer of KARAPATAN was gunned down today. Also, Norberto Gonzales said that even left-leaning groups are included in this all-out war offensive of the administration. Instead of assassins lurking in the dark, they are now out in the open.

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