Reading John Nery gush like a starstruck teenager about senatorial candidate Risa Hontiveros (Akbayan and the Liberal Party) in his recent Inquirer.net piece “A Catholic vote for Risa”, you could be forgiven for thinking Hontiveros is some sort of Filipino Mother Theresa. To Nery, Hontiveros is a “true child of Vatican II” and “most embodies Catholic social teaching”. Nery also cites how “A group that calls itself Catholics for Risa Hontiveros has circulated a statement online endorsing her as a Catholic candidate” noting that “[a] few of the signatories are his friends, some [he] know[s] only by reputation.” Of course, no endorsement of a candidate would be complete without a bit of pandering to certain politically-charged advocacies…
She was, of course, and controversially, among those who led the fight for the Reproductive Health Law; what many of her Catholic critics fail to see is that it was precisely her Catholic conscience, schooled in the gritty reality of Philippine society, that moved her to join the fight.
So let me ask Mr Nery and Risa’s prayerful followers this:
How does one go from being a communist (the true adherents of which are avowed atheists) to suddenly becoming a celebrated Catholic pinup?
The multiple layers of confounding inconsistencies surrounding the philosophical and ideological underpinnings of the candidacy of Risa Hontiveros are too hard to ignore.
Lest we forget Risa Hontiveros is chairperson of militant Leftist group Akbayan. There is scant literature on the hisotry of the Akbayan partylist, but a GMA Network report categorically states that the roots of Akbayan along with its bitter (albeit similarly Left-leaning) rival Bayan Muna “can be traced to the division of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its allies in the 1990s. Akbayan was formed by those who refused to be associated with both factions.”
But did Akbayan renounce its communist roots? According to a report published on the World Socialist Web Site, no.
Akbayan was formed in the wake of the break-up of the Maoist Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in the early 1990s. Every decision made by Akbayan over the past two decades has born the stamp of its origin. The nationalist, opportunist and class collaborationist politics of Akbayan are the continuation of the Stalinist politics of the CPP. What differences now exist between Akbayan and its Maoist rivals are born out of the contingencies of alliances formed with different sections of the bourgeoisie.
Interestingly, the “official” history of Akbayan as laid out in their “official” website Akbayan.org is mute on the topic of its commie roots…
After twenty years of dictatorship under the Marcos regime, formal democracy in the Philippines was restored in 1986 through a broad “people power” movement. This democracy, however, proved to favor only the political and economic elite of the country. The moving force behind the anti-dictatorship struggle–concerned citizens and progressive groups–has been relegated to the periphery of decision-making and policy implementation. In response, social movements, trade union groups, and political organizations have emerged to challenge state policies through lobbying and pressure politics.
Despite the dynamism of Philippine movements, formal institutions of democracy remained in the hands of the few and the wealthy. It was within this context that the idea of building an alternative, a citizens’ political party, first emerged. Social movement groups wanted to be part of the formal processes of government. Akbayan was thus conceived as an effort to institutionalize people power and thereby deepen Philippine democracy.
Consultations on the party-building project began in 1994. Throughout the country, pro-democracy groups were enjoined to help shape the party concept and strategy. Aspirations of various sectors–labor, peasants, youth, women, gay and lesbians, professionals, overseas Filipino workers, urban poor–were discussed and consolidated into a program of governance, while ad hoc structures were formed in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Four years later, in January 1998, Akbayan was formally established through its Founding National Congress. In May of the same year, the new party tested its strength by participating in the local and party-list elections and won seats in the House of Representatives, and several local government units.
Hmmmm… “conceived as an effort to institutionalize people power and thereby deepen Philippine democracy.” That, together with the euphemism that these “social movement groups” of which the founding members of what was to become AKbayan were presumably part of “wanted to be part of the formal processes of government” sounds consistent with a Third Party perspective provided by GlobalSecurity.org on what the agenda of commie movements suddenly made irrelevant by 1986 “people power” politics…
As a result of the world-wide known “People Power” revolution in the Philippines, the National Democratic Front (NDF) made a comprehensive analysis on the new situation in the Philippines. The new government was viewed as a fragile coalition of the right and bourgeoise liberals. However, the Aquino government has a broader power base than the Marcos regime. As such, it adopted a critical collaboration stance with the present government fielding some of its members to fill some some post in government. With this style they could penetrate the bureaucracy while waiting for the Aquino government to weaken so the NDF goal can be fulfilled.
In summary, senatorial candidates who trace their political roots to communism seem to have a talent for metamorphosis to suit the most current political landscape. Some remain true to these roots and present themselves for who they really are in their campaigns. Others simply sell out to the Establishment and jump into bed with the mainstream hands outstretched ready to embrace whatever sort of label and branding it will take to win. To be fair, with the enormous sums of money involved in political campaign, it will really be always all about winnability — even for ex-commies.
[Photoc coutesy Yahoo! OMG!.]