Miyerkules, Enero 21, 2009

Popoy, Joma, and the Left - by Nonoy Oplas

Contributed by karl (Edited by karl)
Thursday, February 08, 2001 @ 10:52:11 AM

Now, Popoy Lagman is gone.

I was in that Ayala rally (with monching) sometime in October or Nov. last year when Popoy asked, "Anong gagawin natin kapag hindi bumaba si Estrada? REBOLUSYON!", and his cadres in the crowd chanted, "revolusyon! rebolusyon!..." Earlier though, he admitted, "Ngayong hapon, hindi po uusok ang mikropono ng pagbatikos natin sa kapitalismo at sa mga kapitalista. Kaalyado natin sila sa isang kagyat na kilusan para ibagsak si Estrada!" You can imagine how the Ayala businessmen and employees who were in that rally reacted.

Just what does Popoy Lagman represents?
For me, Popoy represents the largest organization with a definite ideology in calling for a socialist Philippines. When he and his group splintered from Joma Sison's CPP-NPA-NDF in 1993, Popoy had at least 3 reasons for doing so:
1. They reject the "semi-feudal, semi-colonial" mode of production analysis of Joma and the CPP. 2. Hence, they also reject the "national democracy" goal.
3. They reject the Maoist formulation that "the peasants (not workers) are the main army to change society" and that of "encircling the city from the countrysides", and
4. Corollarily, reject that "armed struggle is the primary form of struggle".

Instead, when Popoy and his team of underground people from the Metro Manila-Rizal Regional CPP Command, the explicit formulations are as follows:
1. The Philippines' mode of production is "predominantly capitalist".
2. Hence, the goal should be socialism, not "national democracy" ("national" meaning anti-colonial, "democracy" meaning anti-feudal).
3. The workers (don't own means of production, whether capital, factories, land, technology) are the main army to change things, and urban insurrection is the way to capture state power, and
4. Other forms of struggle should be tapped to complement the armed urban struggle (Hence, Popoy and his group then advocated to participate in the 1986 snap elections, whereas Joma and the CPP called for its boycott).

Between the two, I will definitely say that Popoy is more sophisticated ideologically than Joma Sison. I would even add that Popoy read and understand classic Marxism and Leninism literature better than Joma and his followers.

The ideological debate and organizational rivalry between the 2 largest factions of the Philippine left has somehow worked for their mutual advantage and the workers in general. Just like big corporations benefitting from having fellow big competitors because they all strive to be more dynamic and innovative.

How? I don't have the figures, but I assume that organized workers have more options where they be organizationally and ideologically affiliated. Before, it was only between the moderate TUCP and the radical KMU, plus other smaller independent labor federations. Popoy's BMP (bukluran ng manggagawang pilipino) represented a 3rd or 4th option for the workers. Just like businessmen and capitalists have options whether they'll be more active with PCCI or MBC or FPI or Rotary, etc.

Second, workers should be given the opportunity to be educated of the socialist alternative, and not just the nat-dem goal. I myself have learned the nat-dem line, then socialist alternative (college days, and few years after that), now I don't subscribe to both, but it pays to understand these things well. The capitalists and politicians of this country for many years have veered away from the Adam Smith and David Ricardo type of capitalism, so they (the capitalists) gave workers a really bad kind and experience of capitalism. Perhaps approximating the capitalism of the Industrial Revolution in Europe. At the time when Marx called religion "the heart of the heartless world, the soul of the soulless conditions, it is the opium of the people." (though rabid anti-Marxists only quote the last line and omitted the first 2 lines).

So, where to, Philippine Left? Before I forget, there's another big left coalition organized under the party-list "Akbayan" (citizens' action party). It is composed of other ex-nat-dems, socialists, NGO people, some pop-dems (popular democrats). There are also the social democrats (soc-dems), but their number and ideological presence in major public debates (cha-cha, Oilex, wage hikes, globalization, etc.) are not bigf and prominent. It is these 3 organizations - the nat-dems' BAYAN, Popoy's SANLAKAS, and other left coalition's AKBAYAN which dominate the leftist sentiment on major economic and political issues of the country.

Where to, Philippine left? Despite my sympathy and admiration for their hard dedication to politicize and mobilize people, especially the really poorer sectors of our society, I still cannot subscribe to their sentiment that we should immune or delink our economy from globalization and the world economy, that we should keep the protectionist veil and continue regula subsidiy-dependent state corporations, etc.

Thus, since I believe that economic liberalization and not protectionism and regulation is the way, and the Philippine left (& the left elsewhere in the world) believe otherwise, I'm inclined to believe that the Philippine left will remain as a significant political voice in our society, but there's no way that it can seize state power to implement its protectionist advocacies.

Meanwhile, my hats off and respect to Popoy Lagman. His death is a big loss to the Filipino workers' continued quest to have bigger bargaining power over some greedy sectors of Philippine business.

originally posted at the Pilipinas Forum

Tribute to Ka Popoy - by Sanlakas Rep. JV Bautista

by Sanlakas party-list Rep. JV Bautista
February 6, 2004

Mr. Speaker, Distinguished Colleagues -

I rise today to pay tribute to a true hero of the working class and a valiant son of the Filipino nation.

Filemon "Ka Popoy" Lagman lived the life of a revolutionary. He saw the ills, the corruption, the injustice, the oppression in Philippine society and sought to change it. In his life, he championed the cause of the masses, particularly the working class. And in his death, he inspired the hundreds of thousands of men and women involved in the parties, mass organizations, and movements that he helped found and organized.

Ka Popoy did not waste even in his youth in his quest for social change. Barely out of his adolescence, he plunged into activism and began to participate in mass actions while a student at the Caloocan High School. Then at age 17, he joined the radical youth organization Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK) while he was an AB Journalism student and a writer for the Philippine Collegian at the University of the Philippines. But his formal university education has to be shelved to heed the call of the revolution.

It was martial law and Ka Popoy saw the Communist Party of the Philippines as the only intrepid and uncompromising opposition to the iron-fisted rule of the elite. Recognizing his talent, the party elected him as Secretary of its Manila-Rizal Regional Committee, and it was during his watch when the country's most important urban center saw the resurgence of the mass movement, marked by labor strikes, student boycotts, and urban poor community organizing. Not too many people know that Ka Popoy Lagman worked closely with the revered nationalist and civil libertarian Senator Lorenzo Tañada in the formation of Lakas ng Bayan or LABAN, the political vehicle in Metro Manila of Ninoy Aquino and the progressive candidates, such as labor leader Alex Boncayao, urban poor organizer Trining Herrera and youth leader Jerry Barican, in 1978 Interim Batasan Pambansa elections.

It was during this time when Ka Popoy Lagman was in fact sowing the seeds of what we would later call "People Power". Allow me to quote from a column written by a former CPP Manila-Rizal Committee cadre who now sits in the Cabinet of the present administration -

"It was on April 1978 that Lagman and the Communist Party of the Philippines' Manila-Rizal Committee he headed spearheaded what really was the prototype of the first People Power in 1986. That was the metropolitan-wide "noise barrage" against the dictatorship. On the eve of the Batasan Pambansa elections, thousand of Manila residents stepped outside their houses banging pots and pans as motorists honked their horns to first shout that now classic protest-cry: "Tama na, sobra na!"

"Lagman missed out on the first People Power, as he had to follow the policy of the communist hierarchy to dissociate from the Cory-led opposition. That was the last straw for him. After debating unsuccessfully since 1986 with the communist leadership, urging it to change the party's tack toward what we call a "People Power" model of revolt, he broke away from the Communist Party in 1992."

"This time around though, he was deeply involved in the second People Power. He had only two weeks to celebrate the victory."

"Many at the second People Power were simply citizens outraged by Estrada's corruption. However, a big part of the militant core of People Power II, especially at its early stages, were from the left - whose evolution in the past few years Lagman had a big role in." (Tiglao, Rigoberto. "Outlook, Ka Popoy Lagman: People Power visionary", February 2001)

Through his relentless organizing and audacious mass mobilizations against the Marcos dictatorship, Ka Popoy Lagman has made a great contribution to the downfall of that regime.

But the most compelling contribution of Ka Popoy Lagman to the historic struggle for social justice and emancipation is his championing the cause of the Filipino working class.

Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas had the following to say of Ka Popoy Lagman -

"Popoy Lagman was a controversial figure, but his work and his activities for which he earned the ire of many, lent vigor, valor and added meaning to the Philippine labor movement. Under Lagman's tutelage, the BMP has proven to be the most militant labor movement. It is obvious that Mr. Lagman wielded strength because his methods were effective, and because many down-trodden people, especially workers, found validity in his cause and a champion in his person."

Ka Popoy Lagman was arguably be the most colorful and effective leader of this generation. His run-ins with the biggest of the tycoons and the most powerful of politicians are legend. Popular columnist Conrado de Quiros documents the following incident -

Lagman, as far as I know, was the first one to stand up before Erap and tell him to his face that he agreed completely with his desire to bring peace and harmony to labor-capital relations, and the best way to do that was to put criminals like Lucio Tan behind bars. This was Labor Day a couple of years ago, during the height of the labor problem at PAL, when the labor leaders were invited to Malacañang. That was real cojones." (PDI, "There's the Rub, Revamp the vision, not the men")

And who could forget that mammoth rally in Ayala Avenue during the height of the protest actions against former President Estrada, when the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) spearheaded a work stoppage and a rally together with the Makati Business Club? In the very heart of the country's premier business district, Ka Popoy Lagman, when asked to speak, defiantly called for revolution and the overthrow of the ruling class.

It is not an overstatement to say that, in the words of Secretary Rigoberto Tiglao, "the strength of unions now owes a lot to Lagman." The urban guerilla group Alex Boncayao Brigade (ABB), named after the LABAN candidate in 1978 for whom Ka Popoy campaigned, was precisely organized as a union's self-defense unit. It was the ABB that became the counterforce against the hired goons and even policemen under the employ of sweatshop owners and unscrupulous big businessmen in Manila. Under Ka Popoy, it veritably leveled the playing fields for the unions.

Ka Popoy Lagman's commitment to the cause of labor led to the founding in 1993 of the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), now regarded as the most militant labor group in the country. And although Ka Popoy never saw the establishment of the Partido ng Manggagawa - the only party-list of labor with a sitting Representative in these very halls of Congress - the powers of his ideas and momentum of his initiatives has ensured that the workers will have their own voice in parliament.

Ka Popoy Lagman was a political visionary and a pioneer in the involvement of the Left in parliamentary struggle right inside the halls of Congress. In 1994, he helped set up Sanlakas, which, through its organizations of workers, urban poor residents, women, youth, professionals and small entrepreneurs, was able to power its way to the House of Representatives in the 1998 party-list elections, and again in the 2001 elections.

One could only marvel at the energy and vigor with which Ka Popoy Lagman pursued his cause and commitment to the uplift of the struggling Filipino people. Let his own words provide us the insight -

"Mga kasama, magtago ako't mag-underground, ako'y hinahanting. Magligal ako't mag-aboveground, ako'y inuusig. Iisa lang ang gustong mangyari ng gobyerno. Tumigil ako, isuko ang aking prinsipyo."

"Pero ang prinsipyong ito ay dinilig ng dugo; hindi lamang ng libu-libong martir ng kilusang manggagawa. Dinilig ito ng dugo ng aking kapatid at asawa, at ito'y nananalaytay sa aking isipan. At kailanman ay di nila magagawang ito'y ipiit o kitlin sapagkat ito'y dumadaloy sa kamalayan ng lahat ng manggagawang naghihimagsik sa sistemang mapang-alipin." (Isyu, 25 November 1996)

On February 6, 2001, the life of Filemon "Ka Popoy" Lagman was snuffed out by assassin's bullets. The cowardly act was undertaken right inside the campus of the venerable University of the Philippines. As a sure sign of gratitude for the life and work he dedicated to the cause of the workers and the common people, a mammoth funeral march, the biggest since those of the martyrs Ninoy Aquino and Lean Alejandro in the 1980s, brought Ka Popoy's mortal remains to its final resting place.

Mr. Speaker,

It will be three years since Filemon "Ka Popoy" Lagman was assassinated. The dastardly assault happened only two weeks after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was installed to power and only a few days after the First Gentleman Atty. Mike Arroyo personally assured Ka Popoy of his security and safety in the new regime. The director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the then Chief of the Philippine National Police vowed that the criminal perpetrators would be caught and brought to justice. After three years, this government has remained empty-handed.

Sanlakas calls for the immediate reopening of the investigation of the killing of Filemon "Ka Popoy" Lagman. Sanlakas demands concrete results from the NBI and the PNP, and calls on these agencies to bring the criminal perpetrators to the bar of justice in the next 30 days or else the heads of these agencies should step down.

Mr. Speaker, Distinguished Colleagues -

It is but fitting that the story of the life and passions of Filemon "Ka Popoy" Lagman, one of the greatest social revolutionaries of our times, a true hero of the working class, and a gallant son of the Filipino nation, be told in this chamber of deputies. For though his mortal life may have shortened by the enemies of revolutionary change, his ideas and commitments lives on in the countless people whose lives his works has touched. They are in Sanlakas, they are in Partido ng Manggagawa, they are in KPML, ZOTO, and many other mass organizations; they are spread out in the four corners of the country, making sure that the dreams of a better society for the workers and the marginalized Filipinos would someday become reality.

(This privilege speech was delivered by SANLAKAS Party List Representative JV Bautista on February 2004 at the House of Representatives in commemoration of the 3rd Death Anniversary of Filemon "Ka Popoy" Lagman.)

Ka Popoy's Spirit Lives on - by Rep. Gunigundo


Journal No. 55, House of Representative, Feb. 6, 2008, Wednesday

Two nights ago, the clamor for change reverberated in this august hall. Tonight, this Representation, who is the voice of the Second District of Valenzuela City – a city that used to be dubbed as the strike capital of the Philippines – would like to hear once more the voice of an advocate and catalyst of change more particularly in the labor sector.

Seven years ago today, Filemon “Ka Popoy” Lagman was felled by an assassin’s bullet that was meant to silence him forever, to isolate him from the working class he had loved and served so well, to obliterate his ideas and principles from the labor front.

In the November 25, 2006 issue of the Daily Issue, Ka Popoy wrote, Mga kasama, magtago ako’t mag-underground, ako’y hina-hunting. Mag-legal ako’t mag-aboveground, ako’y inuusig. Iisa lang ang gustong mangyari ng gobyerno – tumigil ako, isuko ang aking prinsipyo. Pero ang prinsipyong ito ay dinilig ng dugo, hindi lamang ng libo-libong martir ng kilusang manggagawa. Dilig ito ng dugo ng aking kapatid at asawa, at ito’y nananalaytay sa aking isipan, at kailanman ay hindi nila magagawang ito’y ipiit o kitilin sapagkat ito’y dumadaloy sa kamalayan ng lahat ng manggagawang naghihimagsik sa sistemang mapang-alipin..

Indeed, Ka Popoy, who was perennially maligned by his critics and detractors, was arrested and incarcerated three times but he never surrendered. He never gave up his principles and the cause he consistently fought for. Kahit kailan, hindi siya naging balimbing, gaano mang panggigipit at pag-uusig ang kanyang hinarap. Neither was he ever a fence sitter in his steadfast quest for social change. He would always make an unwavering stand on issues and problems that confronted the working class and the nation.

Ka Popoy’s political activism began when he was just a student at the Caloocan High School. He took pride in being a walk-in member, not a recruit, of the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK). He decided on his own. He freely chose the organizations he would join.
It was in the first semester of his first year as an AB Journalism student in the University of the Philippines-Diliman when he became a staff member of the Philippine Collegian, the University’s official newspaper. Two semesters later, without consulting his family, he dropped out of school to go underground where he clandestinely led the mass movement until he was arrested in June of 1994. After he was released, he decided to stay aboveground. He was again arrested in 1996 to prevent the mass protests against the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. The Buklurang Manggagawang Pilipino or BMP which he founded in 1993 and chaired in 1995 was one of the leaders of the mass protests.

Shortly before Ka Popoy was assassinated, he advocated and laid the groundwork for the formation of a labor party, the Partido ng Manggagawa or PM. PM was founded on February 12, 2001, the day Ka Popoy was laid to rest. But has Ka Popoy really rested? Has the ruling class succeeded in buying his ideas and principles six feet under?

Ka Popoy asserted that his enemies will never be able to kill his principles for they already run in the consciousness of the working class. After all, his principles were forged in his living and working with and for the working masses more than half of his life.

Ka Popoy would have been 55 years old this coming March 17. But now he is ageless. He belongs to the ageless as long as there are abusive capitalists and deprived workers, uncaring government leaders and neglected citizens, a super rich few and impoverished multitudes.

Ka Popoy is alive. His assassin’s bullet killed his body but not his mind. His spirit lives on.

His spirit lives on among toiling underpaid workers in factories, among vigilant union members in picket lines, among crusading activists in rallies and demonstrations, among nameless struggling occupants of informal habitats. His spirit lives on to monitor and identify corrupt and inept labor arbiters and commissioners in the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) as well as in the chambers and salas of errant and biased judges and justices. His spirit lives on to be a zealous sentinel of lawmakers, policymakers, bureaucrats and government executives who perpetuate inequities and discrimination against the marginalized and disadvantaged sectors of society. His spirit lives on in the board rooms of corporate interests and in the elitist conclaves to ceaselessly guard against continuing anti-labor policies and anti-poor agenda. His spirit will live on as long as his labor advocacy does not find fruition.

It is lamentable that Ka Popoy was assaulted by black propaganda. He was basically a man of peace. He was an advocate of industrial peace. To him, strikes are the last resort. He would first try to settle labor disputes on the bargaining table where he had achieved numerous meaningful and productive collective bargaining agreements acceptable to both labor and capital. He believed that hard-fought battles of labor in the streets could be also won in the halls of Congress. Hence, his advocacy of a labor party that could represent the working class in the legislature.

As workers dare this august body to fight for decent work and decent pay, as they challenge your Committee on Labor to enact a genuine Labor Code, I hear Ka Popoy ask, “If the owner of capital has the right to sell his product above its cost, why is the lowly worker deprived of his right to sell his own commodity – his labor power – even at its value? Why must the State and society hold sacred the privilege of capital to wealth and profit but deny the ordinary worker the dignity of earning a living wage?”

On the seventh death anniversary of Ka Popoy, this Representation calls on this august Chamber to enact laws that would accord labor the dignity, respect and importance that it rightly deserves. Today, the assassins and masterminds in the killing of Ka Popoy Lagman have not been apprehended; possibly they will never be. But they are not free. They are handcuffed by their guilt. They are prisoners of the government’s continuing culpable neglect, even furtive complicity. They have not been brought to justice. Subalit ang pinakamahalagang hustisya na maibibigay kay Ka Popoy ay ang pagpapatuloy ng kanyang laban sa labas at loob ng Kongreso.

Magandang gabi po sa ating lahat.

On Ka Popoy's 7th Death Anniversary - by Edcel Lagman

On Ka Popoy's 7th Death Anniversary
By Edcal Lagman
Wednesday, 06 February 2008 00:00

Ka Popoy Lagman would have been 55 years old on March 17. But now he is ageless. He belongs to the ages as long as there are abusive capitalists and deprived workers; uncaring governments and neglected citizens; super rich few and impoverished multitudes.

There are overriding reasons why Popoy is not really dead.

He is alive with toiling underpaid workers in factories; with vigilant union members in picket lines; with crusading activists in rallies and demonstrations; with nameless struggling occupants of informal habitats.

Ka Popoy is also alive monitoring and identifying corrupt and inept labor arbiters and commissioners in the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) as well as in the chambers and salas of errant and biased judges and justices.

Ka Popoy is also alive as a zealous sentinel watching lawmakers, policy makers, bureaucrats and government executives who perpetuate inequities and discrimination against the marginalized and disadvantaged sectors of society.

Ka Popoy is likewise alive in the boardrooms of corporate interests and in the conclaves of the power elite as he ceaselessly guards against continuing anti-labor policies and anti-poor agenda.

Ka Popoy indeed lives on as long as the advocacies he espoused and fought for on the full protection to labor and the marginalized do not find fruition.

It is lamentable that the black propaganda against Ka Popoy preceded him. He was basically a man of peace. He did not carry a gun, neither had he pulled a trigger. He did not have bodyguards. To him, strikes were the last resort. He preferred settling labor disputes on the bargaining table where he had achieved numerous meaningful and productive collective bargaining agreements acceptable to both labor and capital.

Today, the assassins and masterminds in the killing of Ka Popoy Lagman have not been apprehended, possibly they will never be. But they are not free. They are handcuffed by their guilt. They are prisoners of the government’s continuing culpable neglect, even furtive complicity.

Ka Popoy, tuloy ang laban!

Postcript to an Assassination - by Edcel Lagman

by Edcel C. Lagman
former congressman
Opinion page, Philippine Star, February 6, 2003, page 9

Today marks the second death anniversary of Filemon "Ka Popoy" Lagman. It has been two years since the brutal assassination of Ka Popoy in broad daylight at the Bahay ng Alumni on the UP Campus. The crime remains unsolved. While there are credible eyewitnesses, relevant evidence and plausible motives, government lacks the will to unravel the murder. The authorities fear that tracking down the masterminds and assassins could lead to the opening of a can of worms.

The investigation began ang ended with "caricatures" of the suspected assailants which sunsequently must have been consigned to the police dustbin.

The alacrity with which CPP spokesman Ka Roger Rosal admitted that a NPA hit squad killed Romulo "Rolly" Kintanar, a former chiftain of the New People's Army, demolishes the theory of police authoritoes that Filemon Lagman was done in by his former comrades. In the case of Ka popoy, both the CPP and the NPA have consistently denied any involvement in his killing. Armed partisans are not known to be immodest in not claiming a feather in their cap. This development has enhanced the theory of the Lagman family that Ka Popoy's death was masterminded by forces other than the armed left.

Unlike others who were targets of seething vengeance by former comrades, Filemon Lagman has steadfast in his socialist ideology until his death. he broke away from Joma Sison, among other, on tactical differences. After decades of unsuccessful armed struggle with much loss of lives, Ka Popoy resolved to bring the campaign for reforms to the parliamentary arena.

He considered the maintenance of an armed component as a measure of preparedness for contingencies, but protracted armed struggle should not be a primary strategy. Eventual revolution is justified to install a socialist regime to consolidate gains and doom the forces of elitist orthodoxy.

Consequently, Ka Popoy and his numerous adherents supported candidates of kindred spirit and those receptive to his cause. He founded legitimate organizations like the multi-sectoral Sanlakas, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) and the Kapatiran ng mga Pangulo ng Unyon sa Pilipinas (KPUP). He founded the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) shortly before he was killed. PM was formally launched on the day of his funeral.

Sanlakas won a party-list seat in the House of Representative in the 11th Congress. PM and Sanlakas are soon to have two party-list representatives in the current Congress.

In May 1997 Ka Popoy proposed to Government a comprehensive labor agenda requiring the enactment of laws to genuinely equalize the relationship between ascendant capital and marginalized labor. He fought globalization and exposed its deleterious effects to local industries and domestic labor. In November 1996 during the APEC Summit, Ka Popoy was imprisoned for organizing the people's caravan from Manila to Subic protesting APEC. Virtually all the evils of globalization pointed out by Ka Popoy now batter the country's economy resulting in the collapse of local industries and the displacement of workers.

Unlike others who left the underground, Ka Popoy did not engage in the government's counter-insurgency campaign. He never betrayed his comrades of differing persuasion. He did not accept any government position, neither did he intend to run for public office. He was a private person who fiercely and indefatigably fought for the upliftment of the marginalized and the empowerment of the disadvantaged sectors. he was both aboveground and aboveboard.

Verily, there was no overriding motive for the armed left to eliminate him. Their ends were common, only their means differed.

This is not to completely exculpate the armed left of former partisans who have turned killers for hire. They could have their own motives. But so do others.

We have proffered from the start to the investigators the following plausible motives for his assassination:

(a) Before and after EDSA II, the only recognized and relevant groups which did not lend support to the ascendancy of President Gloria macapagal-Arroyo were Popoy's Sanlakas and BMP. Popoy advocated a "Resign All" campaign. With this crucial backdrop, it is likely that certain ambitious personalities desirous of ingratiating themselves to the then nascent GMA administration hatched the elimination of Popoy as a housewarming gift to the new dispensation. This has happened before, it could have happened again.

(b) PM was viewed to blossom into an influential political force under his leadership, given his talent for organization and the potential of 31 million workers nationwide. Not a few had reasons to emasculate PM in its infancy. The surest way to achieve this malevolent objective was to eliminate its leader, Ka Popoy.

(c) The murder of Ka Popoy was proximate to the senatorial elections of may 2001. He had ample dossiers of a particular senatorial candidate's human rights violations and other criminal involvement. Incidentally, this senatorial aspirant had the sophisticated equipment then to accurately monitor the communications of Ka Popoy and decipher his appointments on any particular day.

(d) Ka Popoy and Sanlakas had influence in the politics of Quezon city. He was, to no small measure, instrumental in the election and reelection of Reps. Mike Defensor and Rey Calalay in the 3rd and 1st Districts of Quezon city, respectively.

I was aspiring to run as a candidate for Representative in the 4th District of Quezon City in the May 2001 elections. It was expected that with Ka Popoy's and Sanlakas' support my chances of winning would be greatly enhanced and the possibility of my being cheated obviated. The poll results could have been different if Ka Popoy were wlive.

On this aspect, it is indispensable to thoroughly investigate the circumstances and personalities connected with his afternoon appointment on that fateful day at the Up Bahay ng Alumni. A wink-of-an-eye "question and answer" inquest is a lame investigation.

The foregoing sequence is not prioritized and we have no bias in favor of any of them. We could be wrong in our submission. But the least the police investigators could have done was to sonsicentiously follow up these leads. A sleuth worth his slat does not leave any stone unturned.

The investigation has ominously not progressed. It appears that the mantle of justice has been extended to protect the culprits rather than vindicate the victim.

'Popoy' slain in UP ambush - Phil. Star

'Popoy' slain in UP ambush
- by Romel Bagares (Philippine Star) - February 7, 2001

Prominent leftist labor leader Felimon "Popoy" Lagman was killed after being shot at close range by four unidentified men inside the University of the Philippines (UP) campus in Quezon City yesterday.

President Arroyo ordered Philippine National Police chief Deputy Director General Leandro Mendoza to immediately investigate the killing of Lagman, who once headed the urban hit squad Alex Boncayao Brigade of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

"The arrest of the perpetrators must be done at the soonest possible time," Mrs. Arroyo said in an official statement.

As of midnight last night, no group has claimed responsibility for Lagman’s killing.

"Task Force Popoy" was formed last night composed of the Philippine National Police,the National Bureau of Investigation, the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Central Police District.

The task force was set up after an hour-long meeting among Lagman’s brother, former Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, and Interior Secretary Jose Lina, PNP chief Deputy Director General Leandro Mendoza, NBI chief Reynaldo Wycoco and Metro Manila police chief Director Edgar Aglipay.

Lina said the killing was "an isolated incident." He and Mendoza vowed to get the perpetrators.

Reports said Lagman, who is chairman of the militant Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), died of four gunshot wounds in the head. He was shot with caliber .45 automatics.

Former Congressman Lagman told reporters his brother was declared dead at 9:10 last night, several hours after he was shot in the head at close range by four unidentified men inside the UP campus.

"Popoy lived dangerously," he said. "He had determined assassins. It (his killing) could have happened any day."

Fr. Robert Reyes administered the last rites on Lagman, before he was formally declared dead. His remains will be brought today to UP’s Parish of the Holy Sacrifice.

Quezon City police investigator Senior Inspector Rudy Jaraza told reporters they have recovered two caliber .45 shells from the scene.

Witnesses said a third gunman shot Lagman twice in the head as he fell on the ground after the first two gunmen shot him in the head.

Witnesses took Lagman to the nearby Philippine Heart Center along East Avenue.

A neurosurgeon identified only as Doctor Mariano of the St. Luke’s Hospital apologized after declaring Lagman dead. "I did everything I could," he said. "A bullet hit the base of his brain which controls major bodily functions."

Lagman was supposed to turn 48 on March 17. He had just alighted from his car and was about to meet with about 500 members of a left-wing group at the UP Alumni Center when the four men, two of them wearing masks, mixed with the crowd and shot him.

His son Dante said he tried to run after one of the gunmen but was shot at. The suspects then commandeered a car of a passerby to flee. The car was later recovered in Barangay Palawis not far from the UP Campus.

Dr. Aurora Parong of Task Force Detainees, one of the groups sponsoring the UP forum, told The STAR: "We heard gunshots ring out. Then a woman was crying for help."

Kit Belmonte, a UP law student, told The STAR yesterday he was introducing Edcel Lagman at the forum as a congressional candidate in Quezon City when he heard the gunshots.

BMP leaders said the killing of Lagman was a "politically motivated act" that was meant to scare militant labor groups.

"The crime is designed to decapitate the workers’s movement of an able leader and frighten militant labor into submission," they said.

BMP leaders said Lagman made many enemies as a communist revolutionary and as a labor leader after he decided to leave the underground. He still has at least two pending warrants of arrest, one for the alleged killing of a suspected drug lord and another for the alleged assassination of barangay official Rey de la Cruz in Quiapo, Manila.

Lagman is believed to have led the urban hit squad Alex Boncayao Brigade and the break with the mainstream CPP under Jose Ma. Sison in 1993, claiming the leadership had become "Stalinist."

He said the Maoist party’s "protracted people’s war" insurgency policy was no longer acceptable.

After his release from military custody in 1995, Lagman organized the BMP and other militant, factory-based labor unions.

Lagman and his group had demanded not only for the resignation of President Joseph Estrada, but also of Mrs. Arroyo.

In 1977, Hermond, a Lagman sibling and labor lawyer, was abducted allegedly by the military. Up to now, he remains missing and is believed to be dead.  With reports from Mayen Jaymalin, Jaime Laude, Liberty Dones, Jess Diaz

'Ka Popoy' shot dead inside UP

'Ka Popoy' shot dead inside UP
Philippine Daily Inquirer February 7, 2001

Labor leader Filemon "Popoy" Lagman (a former UP student) died Tuesday night, Feb. 6, several hours after two men shot him four times in the head inside the campus of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.

Lagman, 47, chair of the militant Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), was walking with his son Dante and his partner Michelle toward the Ang Bahay ng Alumni on Balagtas Street when the gunmen attacked him at about 4:30 p.m.

He was on his way to a forum, Alternative Lawyers for Public Interest, sponsored by the UP College of Law.

Lagman had just alighted from a green Toyota Corolla car with Plate No. WGT-329 and was about to take the stairs leading to the Ang Bahay ng Alumni when shot.

Dr. Aurora Parong, executive director of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, said she and other participants of the forum heard four gunshots followed by shouts of "Tulong, tulong" (Help, help!) by a woman.

Lagman's body was carried to a vehicle and was rushed to the Philippine Heart center.

Albay Rep. Krisel Luistro, the victim's niece, said a neuro-surgeon had to be called from St. Luke's Medical center to perform surgery on her uncle at the Heart center.

As of 6:50 Tuesday Night, Edcel Lagman (AB'62cl; LLB'66), a former Albay congressman and father of Krisel, described his younger brother's condition as very critical. He said his brother was still unconscious and was in no condition to undergo an operation, according to his doctors.

By 9 p.m., doctors declared the former head of the urban communist hit squad Alex Boncayo Brigade dead.

The senior Lagman appealed to the UP police Tuesday night to find his brother's attackers.

"We have information that (as of 5:45 p.m.) the gunmen were still inside the campus," the senior Lagman said in Filipino on radio.

The shooting of Lagman, one of the leaders of the party-list group Sanlakas, is the first celebrated crime committed under the Macapagal administration.

Sanlakas was one of the groups that supported the broad-coalition that ousted Presdeitn Joseph Estrada but it rejected Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as Estrada's successor.

President Macapagal assured the labor leader's family that the government would hunt downt he suspects.

Newly installed Agrarian Reform Secretary Hernani Braganza, who came to the hospital at about 7:20 p.m., said he was personally instructed by the President to relay the assurance to Lagman's family.

Shortly after news of the shooting reached the Philippine National Police headquarters at Camp Crame, acting PNP chief Deputy Director general Leandro Mendoza proceeded to the crime scene.

Mendoza also visited Lagman at the hospital.

Mendoza ordered the Criminal Investigation & Detection Group (CIDG), the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) and the Intelligence Group to run after the gunmen.

Tuesday night, the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation formed Task Force Popoy.

It is headed by National Capital Regional Office Director Chief Supt. Edgardo Aglipay.

On Tuesday night, the UP police had taken a sworn statement of one witness, a security guard Randy de la Cruz.

In his narration before UP Special Police Investigator Geoffrey Mendoza, De la Cruz said he was inside Ang Bahay ng Alumni when he heard a single gunshot. It was followed by two more successive gunshots.

Crime investigators later reported that three shells of a .45 cal. automatic were found at the scene.

De la Cruz said he rushed outside and saw Lagman's body slumped on the pavement in a pool of blood about two meters away from the Ang Bahay's stairway.

By then the assailants, all carrying handguns, were on the run on Balagtas Street.

The gunmen then flagged down a silver grey Toyota Corolla driven by Dr. Edward Padilla-Navarro. They forced the driver out at gunpoint.

De la Cruz said he tried to chase the gunmen but two of them threatened to shoot him.

The assailants then drove away for less that a kilometer from the crime scene before abandoning the car in Pook Palaris.

A 13-year-old boy, who say the gunmen get out of the car, said the suspects "looked like policemen," according to Investigator Mendoza.

The boy said the gunmen appeared to be around 30 years old, of heavy build, and sporting military haircuts, Mendoza said. The suspects wore denim pants and gray and black T-shirts.

Before Lagman's ambush, The Netherlands-based Jose Ma. Sison (AB'59cl), founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines, had accused Estrada and former PNP chief Director General Panfilo Lacson of masterminding an alleged assassination plot against him.

In a short statement sent through the Internet, Sison said it was hard to suggest motives for the shooting because the labor leader made "a lot of enemies."

As far as the revolutionary movement was concerned, "Popoy was tolerated because of his anti-Estrada posture," Sison said.

The senior Lagman said there were many possible motives for the shooting. "But my brother is in a legitimate labor group. His advocacy is for the poor and the Filipino workers," he said.

The Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), a rival labor group of the BMP, expressed shock over the ambush of Lagman.

"While we have been known rivals in the labor front, our conflict has always been kept open and conducted within the bounds of the legal struggle," KMU chair Crispin Beltran said in a statement.

Beltran said Lagman's line of "Resign all" during the height of the broad Estrada resign movement was unpopular.

"His and his group's follow-up on that line, to wit: 'Gloria is not the People's choice,' and their anti-trapo campaign could have generated a political backlash against him," Beltran said.

Beltran said Lagman's alleged tie-up with the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) of Lacson and the multimillion-peso deals that he brokered with the PEA-Amari and the Philippine Airlines were "also worth looking into as to the possible causes of the ambush."

The KMU said the ambush should not be used to blur the people's clamor for the arrest of Estrada and to sow "bloody intrigues between rival political groups and labor organizations."

The BMP described the shooting of Lagman as a "dastardly and cowardly crime that only reflected the hollowness of the country's democracy."

In a statement, the labor group said the shooting was politically motivated, as its leader was "a very controversial figure."

"Many have motives to eliminate Lagman. They had many opportunities, yet whoever they are, they had the confidence to strike only now, not then."

"It is a testament to the hollowness of our so-called democracy that revolutionaries who choose shift the struggle to the mainstream through legal yet militant means fall victim to a violent assassination," the BMP said.

The BMP said it would not be cowed by the shooting.

Fr. Max Abalos, Sanlakas national chair, said the Macapagal administration should conduct a thorough investigation to find out the motive and identity of the people behind the ambush.

Abalos said that Lagman was a very sincere leader of the poor workers" and that he joined the underground movement "for the people."

The Sanlakas chapter in Negros Occidental sought "immediate justice" for Lagman.

Ariel Guides, Sanlakas Negros spokesperoon, said the shooting of Lagman was done by "enemies of the working class."

In Pampanga, the Marxist-Leninist Party of the Philippines (MLPP) and its armed wing, the Rebolusyonaryong Hukbong Bayan (RHP), condemned the shooting of Lagman.

"Whatever his differences with other revolutionary groups, Lagman was a rebel who would and could not live with the status quo and who staunchly pursued his beliefs to the extent of challenging the powers-that-be," the MLPP said.

It said the shooting could be "the handiwork of undemocratic forces that cannot tolerate different and any differing idea," MLPP spokesperson Leonardo Guevarra said.

Red Olalia, RHB spokesperson, said Lagman had long been a target of intrigues and threats by the CPP.

"The attempt on Popoy Lagman signals a new height of repression on legitimate workers and people's organizations," he said.

The death of Lagman was in some ways similar to the murder of KMU leader Rolando Olalia in 1986, a few months after the dictator Ferdinand Marcos was ousted and months before military rebels attempted a coup against then President Corazon Aquino.

Olalia and his driver Leonor Alay-ay were abducted on Nov. 12, 1986 and were found dead the net day in Cogeo, Antipolo.

The killings led to a massive protest march in Metro Manila.

The twin murders were blamed on military rebels. But nobody has been convicted.

Reprinted from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, 02/07/01

PHILIPPINES: Popoy Lagman assassinated

PHILIPPINES: Popoy Lagman assassinated

14 February 2001
From: International News, Green Left Weekly issue #436 14 February 2001.

MANILA — The leader of the militant BMP trade union federation and prominent leftist, Filemon “Popoy” Lagman, was assassinated on February 6. Four gunmen opened fire while Lagman was visiting the Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines.

Happening just weeks after the fall of President Joseph Estrada, it is the first political assassination to occur under the new regime of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and signals the possible beginning of a campaign of terror targeting the country's leftist movement.

Many suspect that a rightist faction of the military loyal to the ousted president Joseph Estrada was behind the killing, with the intention of destabilising Arroyo's government and sowing intrigue among the competing armed factions of the left. The assassins have not yet been apprehended, although two suspects have been identified.

Lagman was a long-time leader of the country's revolutionary movement. Joining the underground Communist Party of the Philippines in the 1970s and rising to become the head of its metro Manila unit, he played a central part in the movement against the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

When the urban-based strategy of Lagman and other Manila party leaders came into conflict with the dogmatic pronouncements of CPP chairperson Jose Maria Sison, the entire metro Manila unit split from the party and turned its attention to the urban mass movement. The BMP, with Lagman at its head, was formed in 1995, as part of the Sanlakas federation of mass organisations.

While the BMP and Sanlakas have since undergone a series of sometimes acrimonious splits, Lagman was still widely regarded as a revolutionary leader of considerable stature.

The assassination was made to appear the work of rival left factions, an impression possibly aided by Sison who publicly implicated other leftists in Lagman's slaying. The CPP chairperson refused to express even a modicum of sympathy or solidarity in his public statements.

Most on the left, however, condemned the killing of the veteran leader. Lidy Nakpil-Alejandro of the Anti-Trapo Movement, a coalition which groups many left organisations opposed to Estrada, stated she was “outraged by the cruelty of this act”.

“His death appears to follow the pattern that occurred after the anti-Marcos revolt”, she said. “Right-wing military groups stepped up terror and repression against the left as a way of destabilising the new regime and in this instance sowing intrigue within the progressive movement.”

Sonny Melencio of the Socialist Party of Labour agreed: “Popoy remained a political militant and his assassination is an attack on the whole progressive movement.”

“While it may be prejudging the situation, it appears to be part of a destabilisation campaign aimed at the current administration of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo by pro-Estrada loyalists. It demonstrates the instability and hollowness of democracy in the Philippines.”

“It is really only the military that had the capacity to carry out an assassination such as this. It follows the pattern of the December 31 bombing that was attributed to the Islamic rebels in Mindanao. We have very low expectations that justice will be done.”

Wilson Fortaleza, the spokesperson for Sanlakas, stated “Ka Popoy was not only the leader of the most militant labour union organisation but a true-blooded revolutionary and socialist. So he had a lot of enemies: the state, the capitalists and rivals within the leftist movement. He earned a lot of enemies, but also a lot of friends.”

“We are not pointing our fingers at any group at this time. What is certain is that this act was a politically motivated attack against the enemies of the ruling class.”

Popoy - by Conrado de Quiros



I MET Popoy Lagman under the strangest circumstances. It was at a press conference he and other leaders of the New People's Army and the Alex Boncayao Brigade held in the outskirts of Quezon City -- he was underground then. This was more than a decade ago during Cory's time. Popoy et al. had asked for the meeting with members of the media to explain their side on a raging controversy.

That controversy was the famous, or infamous, bus burnings. Its context was this: Some time during her term, Cory allowed the oil giants to raise oil prices despite widespread public perception that it was unjustified. The oil price increase swiftly triggered public protests, which snowballed into an entire movement called the Kilusang Rollback. Emboldened by this, and to "raise the struggle to higher levels," the NPA began stopping buses outside Metro Manila and burning them when their drivers refused to join the strike. As it turned out, the fires that consumed the buses consumed the protest movement as well. Overnight, the protest screeched to a halt. The bus burnings sparked angry protests from the public, the commuting masa above all.

Popoy wanted to explain their side. I had heard of him before. He was the stuff of legend and nightmare in equal measure, spoken about with awe and scorn by friends and enemies -- not necessarily respectively. The impression I got was that he was feared and respected but not worshipped or loved. None of it seemed to fit the flesh-and-blood version, who didn't loom larger than life and seemed reasonable and soft-spoken. He and his friends had laid their guns away for the press conference, but not so far that they couldn't get to them if some unpleasant surprise came their way. The atmosphere did not inspire ease and comfort.

The problem began during the open forum. Popoy and the others had taken a long time to explain what they stood for and how they saw the oil price hike in the context of the revolutionary struggle, which we listened to respectfully though impatiently. During the open forum, we, being journalists, zeroed in on the most newsworthy aspect of what had happened, which was the bus burnings. Popoy and the others answered our questions but kept begging us to look at the bigger picture, or the larger context, as they put it. The bus burnings, which they insisted remained basically a correct strategy, were just a small part of it.

I could see that after some time Popoy was getting pissed off by our seeming obsession with the bus burnings. The explosion did not take long to come. His tone grew sharper as he lamented the idea of people who just stood in the sidelines -- reporters and columnists especially -- feeling free to judge those who risked their lives in the struggle for a better world. In fact, he said, the journalists themselves were to blame for dragging down the protest. They had made a mountain out of a molehill, and not being in a position to know that the masses thoroughly approved of the bus burnings, had brought the world to share their myopia.

I disagreed, saying the media reports about the protest had a sense of proportion and fairly accurately reflected the public sentiment about the bus burnings. (I myself had called the people who wreaked them a bunch of terrorists in my column.) Popoy answered back, and before long I found myself arguing heatedly -- for the first time in my life in a press conference -- with the person I was supposed to be interviewing. Popoy was saying in a raised voice: "No, you people were wrong to exploit the sensational and draw public attention away from the real issues in the protest." I replied in equally heatedly: "People are watching a play, when suddenly someone darts out from nowhere and streaks in front of the stage. Whom do you think people will watch -- the characters on the stage or the streaker? That was what you did when you burned the buses -- you streaked while a play was going on. Don't blame the media."

We tossed a few more angry remarks at each other, and then he finally said: "It's your choice. If you want to remain on the steps of the bus of history (kung gusto n'yong manatili sa estribo ng kasaysayan), it's up to you." A reply leaped to my mind, but suddenly realizing that I was talking to the bosses of the NPA and the ABB, who had laid their guns away but could always get to them when an unpleasant surprise came their way, I decided that inarticulateness was the better part of valor. That reply was: "Well, if the bus of history is headed toward the cliffs, I would most assuredly prefer to be on its steps rather than inside of it. That way I can always jump."

I met Popoy several more times after that, particularly after he went above ground. But though we never became friends, I learned over time to give him grudging respect. The man was ardent in his beliefs to a point of, well, his enemies would say, lunacy, that his friends would call iron resolve. I can only say with certainty, to a point of his betting his life on it. It was a level of conviction that emboldened him, right or wrong, to say and do what he did. That he was fearless he showed again and again, and in ways that added whole new dimensions to the word. Only last week, I mentioned him in that column about how the Left was left out in Gloria's appointments: How he faced up to Erap one Labor Day in the very belly of the beast, at Malacañang and dared the most powerful person in the land to improve the country's peace and order by jailing Lucio Tan.

My friends at PAL also still tell the tale of how he refused to be cowed by black propaganda that he took money from Tan to sell out the PAL unions, and went with alacrity to a Senate hearing to answer those charges against him. Popoy brought with him a pile of documents that, he told the senators, would prove who in fact were receiving money from Tan. Nobody knows now whether he was just bluffing or not. Suddenly realizing that they were dealing with someone who had laid his ammunition aside but could always get to it when an unpleasant surprise came his way, the senators declared that since Popoy's accusers were not at the hearing, they were stopping it and excusing him.

Popoy Lagman was a strange man, in ways that both attracted and repelled. Definitely, he was strange in a way that makes us ask questions about the relative merits of a safe, comfortable, bourgeois life -- and not find any definite answers. He was a man full of contradictions, as plentiful as the contradictions of his time and place that his ideology or engagements in life brought him to glimpse. As plentiful as the life and movement he embraced.

He died a couple of years before his 50th birthday. I half suspect after living a life twice as long.

Ka Popoy Lagman: People Power visionary - by Rigoberto Tiglao

FEBRUARY 9, 2001

Ka Popoy Lagman: People Power visionary

YES, he was. Although we're sure both the middle-class civil society crowd and the orthodox Left led by Jose Ma. Sison would scoff at the idea. Derided as a Mafia-like union boss by big businesses, an urban terrorist by the military, and later as a capitulationist by mainstream communists, Filemon "Popoy" Lagman actually had been pushing for what we would later on call "People Power'' as early as the late 1970s.

It was on April 1978 that Lagman and the Communist Party of the Philippines' Manila-Rizal Committee he headed spearheaded what really was the prototype for the first People Power in 1986. That was the metropolitan-wide "noise barrage" against the dictatorship. On the eve of the Batasan Pambansa elections, thousands of Manila residents stepped outside their houses banging pots and pans as motorists honked their horns to first shout that now classic protest-cry: "Tama na, sobra na (Enough of the Marcos dictatorship)!''

Not only that. Lagman led his metropolitan party organization to a tack preposterously ''bourgeois'' then for communists, but which now is becoming an accepted practice, even a required one for political struggles of the Left. This is participation in the elections and the forging of alliances with non-communist organizations. Lagman pushed for the Left's participation in the 1978 Batasan Pambansa elections, and its setting up of alliances with non-communist groups.

Lagman however defied the Communist Party's official policy of non-participation in the "bourgeois elections." For that, he was pulled out of his post as leader of the metropolitan party organization and assigned as an unarmed rural organizer. His first wife Dodi Garduce was dispatched elsewhere.

It was that episode which created in Lagman that deep anger which almost always shows when one talks to him. "We were sent out really to be slaughtered," he once told me. "We were told to organize peasants, but given only this old paltik (a homemade gun) for our defense." His wife Dodi was killed in an ambush by the military in a Central Luzon area that had little NPA presence.

As a communist leader though, Lagman formulated his idea for a People Power revolt within Marxist historiography. That is, he argued that the model for Philippine revolution couldn't be the rural-based Maoist "protracted war." It should rather be the urban-based Russian Revolution, both its 1905 and 1917 phases.

People out in the streets in the nation's capital led by a core of political activists, calling for an unwanted leader to step down. The military then defecting to join them. That was the Russian Revolution. That was also People Power I and People Power II.

It wasn't something Lagman just thought of by poring over Leninist tracts. For most of his revolutionary career, he was head of the Communist Party's Manila-Rizal Committee in charge of the insurgents' metropolitan organization.

He realized that the locus of political power in the country had moved since the 1950s from rural fiefdoms to metropolitan Manila. Even the bulk of the poor was no longer in rural areas but in urban centers. His assignment to the countryside under "disciplinary action" made him realize that the country didn't have the vast, isolated hinterlands China had where a Red Army could be raised, and a Red Base established.

For Lagman though, it wasn't just a vague or general, "People Power." He saw it as "Worker Power," which meant that the Left's organizing work should be in the factories. After all, sons of peasants had moved from the countrysides to escape poverty into the urban areas, to fall into a different type of impoverishment. They also had the most stake in a better government, and they had the numbers for an urban uprising.

The strength of unions now owes a lot to Lagman, and his urban guerrilla group, the Alex Boncayao Brigade (ABB). The ABB may have been a ruthless hit squad, and it deteriorated in the 1990s as a kidnap-for-ransom gang.

It was originally organized though as a union's self-defense unit. Under Lagman, it "leveled the playing field" for unions. Sweatshop owners and unscrupulous big businessmen in Manila for decades had routinely hired goons and even policemen to stop workers' unions. It was the ABB which became the counterforce against them.

Lagman missed out on the first People Power, as he had to follow the policy of the communist hierarchy to dissociate from the Cory-led opposition. That was the last straw for him. After debating unsuccessfully since 1986 with the communist leadership, urging it to change the party's tack toward what we now call a "People Power" model of revolt, he broke away from the Communist Party in 1991.

This time around though, he was deeply involved in the second People Power. He had only two weeks to celebrate that victory.

Many at the second People Power were simple citizens outraged by Estrada's corruption. However, a big part of the militant core of People Power II, especially at its early stages, were from the Left--whose evolution in the past few years Lagman had a big role in.

A Salute to a Fallen Working Class Revolutionary

February 7, 2001
Partido ng Manggagawang Pilipino

A Salute to a Fallen Working Class Revolutionary

The Partido ng Manggagawang Pilipino salutes our slain comrade Ka Popoy Lagman even as we condole with his family in the loss of a brave father, son and brother.

The perpetrators of his treacherous ambush are people without souls. The Party vows to exact justice for his assassination in our own way. We will pursue the killers and masterminds to the ends of the earth.

We take this opportunity to announce that Ka Popoy was the Party's principal leader as its General-Secretary. He was the unanimous choice of the Central Committee to the post in its very first plenum.

Though barely two years old, the Party is founded upon the summing-up of the experience of more than seventy years of waging revolution since the time of Crisanto Evangelista. The theoretical and tactical foundations of the Party were contributed primarily by Ka Popoy.

He led the split from the moribund Communist Party of the Philippines of Joma Sison and reoriented the revolutionary movement to a new paradigm of struggle. Instead of a hopeless guerilla war in the countryside, he advocated the primacy of forging the workers as a class-conscious force for social revolution.

But Ka Popoy was more than a man of ideas for he was above all a man of action. Fighting was his element. And he fought with a passion, a tenacity and a success such as few could rival.

As a dedicated communist, he worked tirelessly to organize the working people in every opportunity he could. He touched the hearts of the masses he supported in the struggles for their daily bread and ultimate liberation. His boundless devotion to the cause of the working masses is an inspiration to the class-conscious proletariat.

The working class will pay tribute to a fallen comrade and an indefatigable leader by marching as one political army aware of its historic mission to liberate society from the shackles of wage slavery. Revolutionaries fall in the heat of struggle but the revolution rages on forward.

Ka Popoy is dead! Long live Ka Popoy! ###
The Partido ng Manggagawang Pilipino is an underground revolutionary party of the working class established on 30 January 1999.

Pagpupugay ng PMP kay Ka Popoy Lagman


Patraydor na pinaslang si Ka Popoy. Binaril nang nakatalikod. Tanging ang mga taong halang ang kaluluwa ang maaaring gumawa ng ganitong karumal-dumal na krimen.

Patay na si Ka Popoy. Subalit gusto uli siyang paslangin ng mga elementong hanggang sa kanyang pagkakahimlay ay itinuturing pa rin siyang mapanganib na kaaway.

Imposible nang pisikal na kitlin ang kanyang buhay sa pangalawang pagkakataon. Kaya't sa ibang paraan naman siya pinapatay ngayon, sa pamamagitan ng paninirang-puri.

Oportunista raw si Ka Popoy. Milyun-milyon ang kanyang kinita diumano sa ibinentang mga laban ng masang manggagawa at maralita.

Isa itong malaking kasinungalingan. Paanong nagpayaman ang isang taong wala halos masasabing pansariling pagmamay-ari kundi ang kanyang mga personal na kasuotan at gamit sa kanyang katawan.

Hindi ang kanyang personal na kapakinabangan ang pangunahin kay Ka Popoy. Napakasimple ng kanyang pamumuhay. Ni wala itong ibang luho kundi ang kanyang mga bisyo-kape at sigarilyo.

Utak-pulbura rin daw si Ka Popoy. Siya diumano ang utak ng walang-habas na mga pampulitikang asasinasyon sa nakaraan.

Isa rin itong kabulastugan. Ipinipinta siyang isang teroristang uhaw sa dugo gayong pinangunahan niya ang pagtatakwil sa Sisonistang konsepto ng rebolusyong ginawang gera. Sa halip, pinamunuan niya ang reoryentasyon ng rebolusyonaryong kilusan sa isang bagong landas ng pakikibaka.

Isinulong niya ang pagpapaunlad sa pangkalahatang pampulitikang pakikibaka ng mga manggagawa at maralita. Ito ang pagpapatindi ng mga pakikibakang masa-mga pakikihamok na sa kasalukuyang sitwasyo'y kadalasang sa anyo ng ligal at di-armadong mga paglaban.

Masama raw ang pag-uugali ni Popoy; magaspang raw ang kanyang mga pananalita.

Kabulaanan! Si Ka Popoy ay taong kausap. Hindi siya katulad ng mga pulitikong nagbibitaw ng matatamis na pangungusap sa harap ng masa subalit tinatalikuran ang mga salita at tinatraydor ang masa matapos makuha ang gusto nila.

Si Ka Popoy ay konsistent sa kanyang paninindigan sa uring manggagawa. At ito'y hindi niya itinatago sinuman ang kanyang kaharap. Sinumang magtatangkang mang-alipusta sa mga manggagawa ay tiyak na aani ng hindi magandang pakikitungo mula sa kanya. Sinumang nagmamaliit sa katayuan at kakayahan ng mga manggagawa ay tiyak makakatikim ng maaanghang na salita.

Komunista raw si Ka Popoy. Sa lahat ng ibinibintang sa kanya, ito ang totoo.

Ngunit kahit ang katotohang ito ay pilit na binabaluktot para siraan ang kanyang pagkatao. Inilalarawan siyang pilit bilang isang pusong-bakal o walang pusong komunista.

Si Ka Popoy, sa kabilang banda, ay malambot ang puso sa mga manggagawa. Wala siyang pinangarap kundi ang emansipasyon ng mga manggagawa. Wala siyang kaligayahan kundi ang pagtindig ng mga manggagawa bilang isang pampulitikang pwersa.

Sintigas ng bakal ang paninindigan ni Ka Popoy sa pagtatanggol at pagsusulong sa interes ng mga manggagawa. Kahit saang larangan, sa debate o sa aktwal na mga pakikibaka, naroroon siya sa panig ng mga manggagawa.

Ang kanyang buong buhay ay inialay niya para sa interes ng uring manggagagawa. Wala siyang kapaguran sa pagkilos para maorganisa ang mga manggagawa. Ang kanyang dedikasyon at intensidad sa pagkilos ay hinahangaan at inspirasyon ng mga aktibista ng rebolusyonaryong kilusan.

Walang ibang layunin ang mga pumaslang kay Ka Popoy kundi ang preserbasyon ng kasalukuyang sistema, ang pananatili ng paghahari ng uring kapitalista sa lipunan. At para sa kanila, si Ka Popoy ang pinakamalaking panganib para dito.

Ngunit kung inaakala nilang mapipigil ng pagkamatay ni Ka Popoy ang pagkakaisa't pagkakaorganisa ng mga manggagawa, nagkakamali sila. Ang kanyang kamatayan ay magsisilbing mitsa sa pagkamulat ng mga manggagawa bilang isang pampulitikang pwersa.

Ang Partido ng Manggagawang Pilipino ay nagpapahayag ng pakikiramay sa pamilya ni Ka Popoy habang nagbibigay-pugay sa kanyang pangunahing lider, isang magiting na mandirigma, mahusay na teoretisyan, dedikadong rebolusyonaryo, huwarang komunista, at tapat na kasama.

Sa harap ng mga labi ni Ka Popoy, isinusumpa naming hindi bingi ang Partido sa hiyaw ng mga manggagawa-Katarungan para kay Ka Popoy!

Igagawad namin ang hustisya sa aming sariling pamamaraan. Uusigin namin ang mga may kagagawan at utak ng krimeng ito kahit hanggang sa kadulu-duluhan ng mundo.

Sa harap ng mga labi ni Ka Popoy, isinusumpa naming hindi bingi ang kasaysayan sa sigaw ng mga manggagawa-Katarungan para sa uring manggagawa!

Ilang oras na lamang at itatayo na ang Partido ng Manggagawa na hudyat ng pagtindig ng mga manggagawang Pilipino bilang isang independyenteng pwersa sa pampulitikang entablado ng bansa. Sa mga sandaling ito mismo, ang pandaigdigang kilusang manggagawa ay pinapanday ng pakikipagsagupaan sa globalisadong salot ng internasyunal na kapitalismo.

Ito ang tunay na parangal sa isang komunistang mandirigmang gaya ni Ka Popoy-ang pag-apuyin sa puso't damdamin ng bawat manggagawa ang mga adhikaing pinagbuwisan niya ng buhay, ang pagliyabin ang makauring pakikibaka ng proletaryado tungo sa pagpawi ng sahurang pang-aalipin.

Komite Sentral
Partido ng Manggagawang Pilipino
Pebrero 11, 2001

The Partido ng Manggagawang Pilipino is an underground revolutionary party of the working class established 30 January 1999.

Death of a Maverick

Death of a Maverick

February 8, 2001

The killing of former labor leader Filemon "Ka Popoy" Lagman, 47, is the first major crime committed under the new administration. The murder adds to the strains undermining the country's political stability. It places new questions on the ability of the Philippine National Police to solve major crimes and give justice to victims and their families. The murder places the Philippines on the world map for the wrong reason.

Mr. Lagman was chair of the militant labor group Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino and leader of the party-list organization Sanlakas at the time of his death. BMP members claimed the murder was "politically motivated" meant to frighten activist labor groups.

No one claimed authorship for the ambush. Who could have masterminded his death?

Ka Popoy was not in good standing with the mainstream Communist Party of the Philippines. In 1991, he broke away from the Jose Ma. Sison-Luis Jalandoni group and became the leader of the "rejectionist" group that advocated parliamentary struggle. He criticized Mr. Sison's "protracted people's war" strategy as being unrealistic and inappropriate for the Philippine setting.

He was not popular among many employers for leading labor strikes and actively standing up for workers' right. A staunch government critic, he probably was on the hate list of many public officials.

His group participated actively in the EDSA II demonstration that ousted Mr. Estrada. He headed the "Resign All" campaign that called for the resignation of President Estrada and Vice President Arroyo and top government leaders.

Some theorists claimed a faction of the military was unhappy that the former guerilla leader, who surrendered in 1995, literally walked away from charges brought against him by government. He became a labor leader after his release from military custody.

A paper reported that Kilusang Mayo Uno chair Crispin Beltran has suggested that the police look into Mr. Lagman's other activities to establish motive. These included, he said, Lagman's reported "tie-up" with the presidential task force on organized crime, and the "multi-million deals" that he reported brokered with the Philippine Air Lines and PEA-Amari administration.

A controversial man, Mr. Lagman made a mark by choosing to turn away from the armed struggle to the parliamentary mainstream through legal yet militant means. He had a vision of uniting all militant trade unions and organizing a labor political party. Part of his dream came true when approximately 200 local unions joined the BMP and later the BMP-led march on EDSA. A representative from Sanlakas sits in the House.

President Arroyo has ordered the police to waste no time running after the brains behind the murder. The police should also give Lagman's family tight security. We challenge newly appointed PNP chief Leandro Mendoza to crack the case as early as possible.

Popoy Lagman: A revolutionary life

Popoy Lagman: A revolutionary life

by Dan Mariano
TODAY Newspaper
February 8, 2001

Filemon "Popoy" Lagman was a journalism student at the University of the Philippines at about the time that I entered the so-called Republic of Diliman to pursue the same course. However, he was still a freshman when he decided to drop out of UP and work full time in the revolutionary movement, which had just erupted into the scene to change forever Philippine politics. This was during the early 70's, the era of the First-Quarter storm of 1970 and the Diliman Commune of 1971.

When Ferdinand Marcos placed the entire country under martial law in September 1972, Popoy was already deep in the revolutionary underground. Those of us who were forced to similarly resort to clandestine activism found out that he was already a "responsible comrade," i.e. a full-fledged member and a leading cadre of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

A tireless party worker, Popoy had risen to the chairmanship of the party's Manila-Rizal regional committee by the mid-70's. It was this organ, in contravention of the CPP's theory of protracted people's war with its emphasis on building guerilla bases, that authorized the formation of the first New People's Army units in what was then called the Greater Manila Area.

First fielded in late 1972, these urban guerillas were called armed city partisans, or ACPs. The first two ACP formations (north and south of the Pasig) were virtually smashed by martial-law authorities in March 1973. But enough stragglers - Lagman among them - survived the mass arrests to keep the concept of urban guerilla warfare alive and to relaunch the ACPs in 1975 despite the lack of support from the party higher-ups.

With the capture of Sison, Bernabe Buscayno and Victor Corpus by the Marcos military, the Manila-Rizal committee won a certain measure of autonomy. Under Lagman, it devised new and creative ways of making life difficult for the dictator. It established and cultivated ties with the aboveground political opposition and other anti-Marcos groups. It developed a formidable "united front" with so-called middle forces.

The Manila-Rizal committee was able to help put together the original Lakas ng Bayan (Laban) ticket in the capital region for the Interim Batasang Pambansa elections on April 8, 1978. Among the Laban candidates were Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Charito Planas and Alex Boncayao.

On the eve of the IBP elections, the Manila-Rizal committee and its allies spearheaded the country's first ever noise barrage. Thousands of Manilenos took to the streets, motorists leaned on their horns and housewives banged pots and pans for several hours on the night of April 7, 1978 - shattering once and for all the myth that the Philippines was made up of "40 million cowards and one son of a bitch."

The protest, moreover, gave the lie to what would become the official results of the voting which saw the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan ticket - led by Imelda Marcos - winning, predictably, by a landslide. This, although the Marcos-controlled media all but ignored the outpouring of popular indignation on the eve of the elections.

In the post-election crackdown, the Laban candidates dispersed. Pimentel hied back to his native Cagayan de Oro. Planas fled to the United States. Boncayao went to the countryside, where revolutionary martyrdom awaited him. Ninoy, of course, remained in prison until he was allowed - with pressure from the Carter administration - to undergo medical treatment in Boston.

Despite the tactical successes of the decision to take part in the parliamentary elections and to stage street protests at the height of martial rule, the party higher-ups yanked Popoy out of the Manila-Rizal committee and penalized him with a reassignment to his native region of Bicol. While serving as a foot soldier in the peasant army, he avenged the murder of a comrade's father. At about the same time, his first wife, Dodi Garduce, was dispatched to Central Luzon, where she was eventually killed in an encounter with the military.

By the 80's a "rehabilitated" Popoy was sent back to the capital where he soon regained the leadership of the Manila-Rizal committee. In 1984 the committee once more declared urban warfare on the Marcos dictatorship with a new unit, the Alex Boncayao Brigade. The ABB's bloody inauguration came by the way of the assassination of a police general, Tomas Karingal, whom the guerrillas tracked and gunned down at a Quezon City beer garden.

In the subsequent years, the Manila-Rizal committee under Popoy abided by the party leadership's decision to dissociate the revolutionary movement from the political opposition, which began to gather strength following Ninoy Aquino's assassination in 1983. In the provinces, it was the NPA that was rapidly gaining ground, a situation which led its leaders to believe that victory was at hand.

In the 1986 snap presidential election, the radical Left adopted a "boycott policy", which Popoy reportedly tried to have reversed. At the first People Power revolt, it found itself marginalized. The political blunder - along with its paranoid purge of suspected government infiltrators - would prove costly to the revolutionary movement

By the late 80's, the distance between Popoy and the central party leadership began to grow once more. Reflecting on the movement's past miscalculations, he started to question some of the party's fundamental doctrines, including its long-held theory of a protracted people's war. Somehow, amid all this tumult, Popoy was able to find a new wife, Bobbie, sister of another revolutionary martyr Edgar Jopson.

By the early 90's he and most of the leading cadres of the Manila-Rizal committee decided to break away altogether from the mainstream CPP. A bitter war of words erupted between the party orthodoxy, which "reaffirmed" the Maoist strategy of surrounding the city from the country, and Popoy's group, which would henceforth be known as Rejectionists. A word war was as far as the conflict went, however.

The "RA-RJ" schism soon spawned other breakaways and "splits from splits". What once was a monolithic political formation was divided at least 11 different ways.

In 1994 Popoy was arrested on a murder complaint that was eventually dismissed for lack of merit. In 1996 he was again taken into custody by military intelligence operatives on orders of the Ramos administration, which sought to avoid any embarrassment as the Philippines hosted the Apec summit.

Detention gave Popoy the chance to go over his thoughts about revolution. After his release, he immediately went about setting these thoughts to paper. Soon afterward, the ABB under Nilo de la Cruz broke away from the Manila-Rizal committee. What remained of the urban guerrilla brigade then allied itself with the Revolutionary Proletarian Army, led by yet another "splitist" Arturo Tabara, based in Western Visayas.

When Popoy and his comrades launched the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino and Sanlakas in 1995, they were no longer fixated with guerrilla warfare. The organization of labor unions and squatter communities became their main preoccupation. Despite being neophytes in parliamentary politics, they were able to win a party-list seat in Congress. They organized scores of labor unions and led numerous campaigns for higher wages and other working-class causes.

Popoy's detractors have described him as an extortionist, but nothing in his lifestyle ever suggested that he personally profited from, say, a land deal, which allowed former squatters along Manila Bay to set up a resettlement in Cavite, and from the labor dispute at Philippine Airlines. He certainly never developed a tasted for disco dancing.

Popoy and his comrades campaigned for Joseph Estrada in 1998, with the hope that the ex-matinee idol would somehow fulfill his promises to the poor. But when evidence of Estrada's corruption began to grow, BMP and Sanlakas were at the forefront of the oust-Erap movement and even adopted the "Resign All" slogan.

On Tuesday a gunman fired at least four times and Popoy at close range. One of the bullets hit his brain stem.

On the many occasions I was able to interview him, Popoy never seemed all that concerned about his personal safety. Despite his notoriety as a "hit squad leader," he didn't pack a gun. Even at the peak of ABB's liquidation campaigns, I never saw him move around with more than one companion, who, more often than not, was a woman.

Fearless was just one of Popoy's many attributes. Committed - even at the risk of his own life - was another.

The Filipino working class has lost a champion.