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In Memory of Rolando ‘Ka Lando’ Olalia, Chairman of Partido ng Bayan and Kilusang Mayo Uno
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
NDFP Chief Political Consultant
12 November 2002

Rolando "Ka Lando" Olalia rose to the position of chairman of Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement) by virtue of his progressive commitment and hard work as a militant anti-imperialist political leader of the working class, as a trade union organizer and as a labor lawyer. His outstanding qualifications brought him to the chairmanship of Partido ng Bayan (People’s Party) in 1986.

We commemorate today his martyrdom, together with Ka Leonor Alay-ay his driver. From the evening of November 12 to the wee hours of November 13, 1986, elements of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) kidnapped, tortured, mutilated and murdered Ka Lando and Ka Leonor. The double murder was part of the implementation of Oplan "God Save the Queen".

The objective of the operational plan (oplan) was to pretend at saving the "queen" (President Corazon Aquino) from the alleged communists inside and outside her cabinet, intimidate her with the show of RAM strength through the killing of prominent communist suspects and put the entire Aquino regime under the control of the defense secretary and the RAM.

Had I been in the Philippines then, instead of being in Japan lecturing in universities, I would have also been snatched and butchered. I was one of the prime targets of the oplan. I had been informed of the threat a few days before I left for Japan on October 22, 1986.

At that time, one arm of the US government was handling the Aquino regime and the other arm was handling the RAM. The regular US agencies were keeping normal relations with the Aquino regime and special operatives of the US, like the Manila station chief of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and CIA veterans like Ray Cline and John Singlaub, were manipulating the RAM.

The US stood to gain much from its two-handed policy. It could maintain its control over the Aquino puppet regime, through normal channels and through the pro-US insiders Generals Rafael Ileto and Fidel Ramos, and use the RAM to further keep it on a pro-US track under the repeated threats of coup d’etat.

US officials wanted to be extra sure that the Aquino regime toed the US line and was not swayed to do otherwise by the patriotic and progressive forces that had overthrown Marcos. They wanted Aquino to retain the US military bases and to stay within strict US bounds in the ceasefire talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

The conditions appeared then to favor the strengthening and advance of the legal forces of the national democratic movement. The Partido ng Bayan, chaired by Ka Lando, anticipated that it could field candidates in forthcoming elections and get a significant number of seats in the legislature and in local governments.

In March 1986, soon after coming to power, Aquino had publicly called for ceasefire talks with the revolutionary movement. The progressive forces estimated that they could challenge and encourage her to remove the US military bases within her term and that they and the Aquino ruling coalition could mutually benefit from a ceasefire agreement between the reactionary government and the armed revolutionary movement.

But the RAM was impetuous and overeager to increase its power within the regime. It found it convenient to drum up the communist bogey in order to strike at Ka Lando. The CIA handlers of RAM let it attack Ka Lando even as they knew that the military reliable of Aquino had their own scheme of attacking the revolutionary movement in due time.

The people’s outrage was overwhelming over the barbaric torture and murder of Ka Lando. Aquino persuaded his family to shorten the funeral wake in order to prevent large numbers of people from looking at the remains in the same way that they had done at those of Ninoy Aquino, to the detriment of Marcos. Even then, one million people participated in the march to bring Ka Lando to his resting place.

Not long after the burial of Ka Lando, the Aquino regime arrogantly demanded that a 60-day ceasefire agreement should be signed or else the regime would back out of the negotiations. The NDFP agreed to the signing despite the unreasonable threatening tone of the regime and the conspicuous fact that the murderers of Ka Lando remained scotfree.

The ceasefire was supposed to generate conditions for working out the substantive agenda for the formal peace negotiations. However, Aquino regime under the prompting of its US handlers wanted to use the ceasefire agreement only to consolidate and stabilize its rule. The military intelligence agencies put the personnel and supporters of the NDFP under close surveillance in order to be able to hit many of them later.

During the ceasefire period, the presidential guards slaughtered demonstrating peasants and their urban supporters in front of the presidential palace on January 23, 1987. The ceasefire was broken. Subsequently, Aquino unsheathed the sword of war in February 1987 after US officials assured her that it was time to do so.

We have much to learn from the martyrdom of Ka Lando. His martyrdom came exactly when many people were euphoric over the downfall of Marcos and were surmising that a just and lasting peace would arise from negotiations between the Manila government and the NDFP. Instead the most reactionary forces within that government were emboldened to unleash the most brutal assaults against the revolutionary forces.

After the fall of Estrada, there were also expectations that the Macapagal-Arroyo regime would pursue in earnest the peace negotiations with the NDFP. The solidarity meeting of the GRP, NDFP and peace advocates in Manila and the resumption of peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway in April 2001 appeared promising.

But soon enough, President Macapagal-Arroyo would follow the advice of the most pro-US and reactionary elements in her regime (defense secretary Angelo Reyes, national security adviser Roilo Golez, OPAPP secretary Eduardo Ermita and the like) to paralyze the peace negotiations with an indefinite recess and then an indefinite suspension.

The military, police, paramilitary, deputized private armies and death squads of the Macapagal-Arroyo regime have been going on a rampage, committing gross human rights violations mainly against the toiling masses of workers and peasants. But the regime has the gall to label the revolutionary forces as "terrorists".

The worst atrocities have been perpetrated against the civilian population in extensive areas suspected as guerrilla fronts of the New People’s Army. Local officials of Bayan Muna have also been kidnapped, tortured and murdered. What was done to the Partido Bayan in 1987 is being done again to ensure that the exploiting classes had a monopoly over the electoral contests for seats in the government.

Now, the US and the Macapagal-Arroyo regime have pushed the criminalization and demonization of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and the NDFP Chief Political ConsultantEFC as "terrorists" on a global scale. They have threatened that the NDFP would likewise be criminalized and demonized, unless it capitulated to the Manila government.

The Macapagal-Arroyo regime has wantonly violated The Hague Joint Declaration by seeking to precondition the peace negotiations with the capitulation of the NDFP. It has also flagrantly violated the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) by criminalizing the CPP, NPA and NDFP chief political consultant and depriving them of safety and immunity guarantees through the European governments.

By practically scuttling the peace negotiations, the GRP has prevented the formation of the Joint Monitoring Committee, which is supposed to oversee the joint and separate implementation of the GRP-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

As we commemorate the martyrdom of Ka Lando and Ka Leonor, we are reminded that there are risks to the revolutionary forces and people, wherever negotiations with the devil are held, in the Philippines or abroad. As in my case, anyone now known to be on the side of the NDFP in the peace negotiations is now exposed to arbitrary criminalization and punitive actions by the US, European and other governments subservient to the US.

I have been told by high officials of the Manila government that if the NDFP does not capitulate soon enough the US would either request for my extradition or deploy covert operatives of the US Central Intelligence Agency to dispose of me. The NDFP itself and all its known negotiators, staffers and supporters are being put under duress. They are threatened by being demonized as "terrorists" and being subjected to punitive measures.

Under the present circumstances, the US and all pro-US governments can at will violate the democratic rights of organizations and individuals under the pretext of waging a war on terrorism. They are challenging all revolutionary forces and people in the Philippines that they have no choice but to use all forms of revolutionary struggle in order to uphold, defend and advance the struggle for national liberation, democracy and a socialist future. #

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