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The man who called for a revolution in Ayala (Feb.7, 2001)

Philippine Daily Inquirer February 7, 2001

The man who called for a revolution in Ayala

By PDI Research

See related story:

Labor leader assassinated

FILEMON "Popoy" Lagman was a maverick nationalist, veteran activist and trade union organizer.

An activist since high school, he had in the last five years ventured into organizing a legal mass movement. At the time of his death, Lagman headed the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) since its founding in 1995. BMP is a federation of more than 200 local unions with a mass membership of about 100,000 workers.

Lagman had a vision of uniting all progressive unions, build a top-caliber labor law office, start the groundwork for organizing an electoral labor party, put up a radio program and a daily tabloid for the cause-oriented movement, and establish a workers' bank to further bolster the livelihood requirements of the sector.

This was a vision that almost came true at the height of the protest to oust Joseph Estrada, when the different workers federations united on a common action for Estrada's ouster.

Lagman's group was one of the first to be at the Edsa Shrine after the Senate's rejection of the opening of the second envelope[1]. When it was Lagmanfs turn to speak, people from Makati
reportedly did not know how to react[2] when he called "for a revolution in Ayala."[3]


Lagman led protest actions in many of the BMPfs member unions. Other protest actions were directed against oil price hikes, the expanded value added tax, the Anti-Terror Bill, the Visiting Forces Agreement and for the resignation and ouster of President Joseph Estrada.

Active in the underground struggle against the Marcos dictatorship, he used the alias "Carlos Forte" or "Ka Popoy." He was a member of Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan in UP in the 1970s.[4] He went underground after finishing only a year of journalism at University of the Philippines.

During martial law, he headed the Manila-Party Regional Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines till his suspension by the Executive Committee of the Central Committee in 1978 due to differences in the participation in the elections called by President Marcos.

Lagman advocated for participation against the party's boycott stance.

Suspected by the military as the chief of the Alex Boncayao Brigade, the dreaded communist hit squad, he was arrested in 1994 and went aboveground after his release.

Again, he was arrested in 1996 at the height of protests against the Asia-Pacific Economic summit which Manila was hosting. The BMP was a breakaway group from the Kilusang Mayong Uno (KMU).

Protest actions

Two weeks after his arrest, protest actions by 183 unions erupted in Metro Manila, demanding his release.The workers action included mass walkouts, work stoppages, demonstrations, pickets and hanging banners at factory gates. Lagman was released on Nov. 28, three days after the Apec summit, which confirmed Lagmanfs suspicions that his arrest was merely part of the security arrangements for the visiting heads of state in Manila.

The order for his release came from the Quezon City court, which cited the lack of due process in his abduction and imprisonment. Lagmanfs lawyers filed a charge of grave abuse of authority against the state prosecutor who ordered his arrest.The BMP traces its origins to the split within the KMU in 1993, when the entire regional chapter in Metro Manila collapsed. The chapter accounted for more than half the total membership of the KMU.

Split within split

The split occurred after a major split took place in the underground Communist Party of the Philippines, when almost half the membership rejected its Stalinist-Maoist politics.

Lagman led the breakaway from the CPP in 1991 due to differences with founding CPP chair, Jose Ma. Sison, on the question of strategy of guerrilla war and the analysis of Philippine society as semi-feudal and semi-colonial.

Lagman advocated a shift to the workers movement, combining parliamentary and extra-parliamentary means and a "strategy of a workers uprising toward a socialist revolution."

Lagman's splinter group is called the RJ (Rejectionist) to differentiate it from the mainstream RA (Reaffirmist).

Today the RJ group is said to be hopelessly split into three.[5] Among the splinters, Lagman at the time of his death was said to be the only one to hold a truly urban mass following. The rest are said to be "paper tigers" which do not have countryside fronts or bases.

Lagman had once lamented that the KMU had been treating the BMP as an "enemy." The KMU had attacked the BMP and accused it of being "insurrectionist" and a partner of government at the same time. The rift was a product of differences between Lagman and Sison. The KMU is said to be aligned with Sison.

But consistent to his "rejectionist" image, Lagman scored Sison for being "constitutionalist" by endorsing Vice President Macapagal-Arroyo to succeed President Estrada in the event of Estrada's impeachment or resignation.

Consistent with his vision for reform, Lagman took a "resign all" position.

Notes: Assisted by M.S. in Philippine

[1] "the opening of the second envelope" - The 2nd envelop was the evidence given by the PCI-Equittable Bank (Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank), which is owned by the Go Family, one of Erap (Estrada) cronies and member of Erap midnight cabinets, to the Prosecutor containing the alleged secret account of the Deposed Presient Erap. This is a very discriminatory documentary evidence against Erap because it allegedly contain bank deposit amounting to 3 Billion pesos of unexplain wealth of Erap. On the last day of the trial, 11 senators voted not to open this envelop. This trigger the anger of the people against the government that created the spontaneous and greater mobilization. (People Power ll)

[2] "people from Makati reportedly did not know how to react" -The Lagman group was partially isolated because of their call for "Resign All". Sanlakas would like that all government official will resign together with Erap and the Chief justice will become the caretaker government and appoint all gov't position before a election is held. This is a unpopolar stand especially to those who works in the financial center like Makati.

[3] "a revolution in Ayala" - Ayala is a street of Makati, the financial center of the Philippine. The first scandal of the Erap government, that is, the Best World (BW) resources stock manipulation started in Ayala. BW is a company in a stock exchange rumors to be own by Erap but was headed by Dante Tan. who is Erap cronies and also a member of midnight cabinet. Midnight cabinet is a group of drinking buddies of Erap compose of big businessmen, and the most favor. Lagman groups first mobilization was held in Ayala. Many employees of big companies joined, but because of their call to "Resign All", the masses isolated them. Demonstration in Ayala was organized by big businessmen against Erap.

[4] "Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan" - Organization of the Democratic Youth

[5] "Today the RJ group is said to be hopelessly split into three." - RJ has many splits.

1. AKBAYAN - literally means shoulder to shoulder; its members came mainly from the NOD (National Organizing Depeartment; NDF - National Democratic Front cell) of the CPP before. They don't have mass base and concentrated to electoral process.
2. Partido ng Manggagawang Pilipino(Phil. Workers Party)- this is the political party of Lagman groups. Together with other sectoral groups like SANLAKAS (means one force), BMP, KAMPI - Kaisahan ng Mga Anak ng MAnggagawang Pilipino( Organization of Filipino workers) a student organization, PCUP - Philippine Confederation of Unions President and others
3. RPA/ABB - this groups was headed by Tabara, and Sergio Romero. They have a Armed group in Negros but has turn into Private armies of Danding Cojuangco (Erap cornies). They had already surrendered to the Erap government in exchange of 10 million pesos cash and 45 million pesos rehabilitation fund. Some of RJ's of Mindanao has merged with RPA/ABB, while others joined Sanlakas.

4. Marxist-Leninist Party of the Philippines (MLPP) and its legal front; KPD - Kilusan para sa Pambansang Democrasya (Movement for National Democracy) - A group from Southern Luzon. They have also an armed group called Rebolusyonaryong Hukbong Bayan (Revolutionary Peoples Army). THis is a small and loose groups of former revolutionary.
5. Sosyalistang Kilusang Manggagawa SOCIALIST WORKERS MOVEMENT - a group of Sonny Nemenzo - split from Lagmans group

Note: On 2002, three parties merged - the Partido ng Manggagawang Pilipino (PMP), Sosyalistang Partido ng Paggawa (SPP), and the Partido Proletaryo Demokratiko (PPD)

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