By Benjamin Sumog-oy
In Defense of Human Rights
and Dignity Movement .
GENERAL Santos City — I do not believe Lt. Col. Cabunoc when he claimed that Mulong Solivio is a member and supporter of the CPP/NPA.
But before I discuss this, let me emphasize, first, that one’s membership to any revolutionary group was already decriminalized immediately after the advent of the Edsa People Power Revolution.
Therefore, granting arguendo that Mulong Solivio is really a member of the CPP/NPA, there is still no reason for Lt. Col. Cabunoc to arrest and incarcerate him. By being a member of the CPP/NPA, Mulong is not committing any crime under our existing laws. Imprisonment of a person for reason of his political belief is prohibited by the bill of rights enshrined in the Philippine Constitution.
As long as he does not rise in arms against the government, Mulong Solivio is not committing any crime that will justify his arrest and incarceration even if Mindanao is under the state of Martial Law. Mere membership in a revolutionary group is not rebellion under our existing criminal statute.
I can only hope that Lt. Col. Cabunoc understands this too well.
Furthermore, even if it is true that he is participating and supporting the rallies and pickets of the CPP/NPA’s legal fronts, Mulong Solivio does not, still, commit any crime. The right to peaceably assemble for redress of grievances and the right to express one’s opinion are inviolable rights of individuals. These rights are guaranteed by the Constitution.
But, what is sure for me is: Mulong is not a member or a supporter of the CPP/NPA’s armed struggle. He is just simply an activist and a progressive thinker whose primary goal is to balance the social landscape so that every person could have access to decision-making and become meaningful participants to the processes of growth and development.
As, then, mayor of Surallah, Mulong Solivio was our partner in the implementation of our institution’s development and governance program which batted for the transformation of barangays into sustainable, autonomous, self-sustaining and empowered basic government institutions and, at the same time, for the formation of empowered and sustainable communities.
We call this dual-power governance and development strategy.
In the pursuit of this program, our development and governance institution, in partnership with the Municipality of Surallah, under the auspices of, then, Mayor Solivio, engaged in the formation of community-based and sector-based organizations in the 17 municipalities of Surallah.
Mulong Solivio was not just a fence-sitter in the implementation of this program. He accompanied us even up to the remotest villages of the municipality to spread the importance of people’s direct and meaningful participation in the processes of policy-making and development.
He was too convinced, then, that the empowerment of the barangay and basic social institutions is a key to genuine growth and development.
One day, 15 armed members of the CPP/NPA paid a nocturnal visit to Tutong Dignadice, the chairperson of the farmers’ organization which we established in Barangay Canajay, Surallah, to ask him to stop kowtowing with the organizing project of Mayor Mulong Solivio.
The NPA commander accused Mulong of slowing down the success of the people’s revolution through the implementation of what he called a reformist project.
Mulong Solivio, upon hearing what had happened to his organizer, he asked us to hide Tutong Dignadice in the urban centers of General Santos City, so that he may be situated outside the sphere of danger, which we did.
This incident triggered heated verbal exchanges over radio station DxCP between me and Noel Ligaspi, popularly known as Ka Efren, spokesperson of the CPP/NPA for Far South Mindanao.
Ka Efren and his wife had lately surrendered to the military, for an unknown reason.
I even suspected that my inclusion in the diagram of the CPP/NPA, which was published in its official publication “Ang Bayan”, indicating that I was one among those in the CPP/NPA’s Order of Battle, was caused by our organizing project in Surallah, which for the CPP/NPA was a reformist project.
This alone would prove that Mulong is not a member of the CPP/NPA. He is just an activist and a progressive thinker.
By the way, I condemn the act of the military of using Ka Efren as a tool against his comrades in the CPP/NPA. Worst, he is being reportedly used for the military’s witch-hunting operations.
For many decades, Ka Efren lived the life of the hunted in the pursuit of his revolutionary works. The military should allow him now to find his peace with his family.
To use Ka Efren against his former comrades is the cruelest of all acts, and must be strongly condemned by our current civilization. For this, I appeal for the intervention of Governor Daisy Avance Fuentes.
Going back, indeed, Mulong Solivio has in his record a history of the struggle for the oppressed and the disadvantaged.
One time, he accompanied the people in lying, en masse, on the tarmac of the Surallah airport in order to prevent the planes of a multi-national company engaged in the banana and pineapple plantation business from flying for the aerial spraying of the vast banana and pineapple plantation of this same company.
Mulong Solivio is a permanent fixture in marchallies initiated by either environmentalist groups, church groups or other activist forces. He always loves to be in the company of the masses and the basic sectors. This is exactly a kind of a public official that we need now.
Rather than protecting capitalist interests, Mulong Solivio, as a public official, walks with the masses to articulate their issues and their concerns for the future.
The military should appreciate him, and not threaten him of arrest and imprisonment. We can seldom find a politician, like Mulong Solivio, in the country today.
Lastly, the fate that is now befalling Mulong Solivio is the reason why we oppose the extension of martial law in Mindanao.
The moment the power of martial law surges into the heads of military officials, our society will be plunged into danger. The unbridled power that the military wields during Martial Law could be used to tear apart our sacred rights and our dreams.
We should speak up now, while we still can!
(Benjamin Sumog-oy is Action Officer of In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement in General Santos City. -Mindanews)