The evolution of the "terrorist" label on liberation fighters and revolutionaries
by Ka Cesar Renerio, NDF-North Central Mindanao
Wednesday, Jun. 22, 2005 at 11:27 AM
In general, ruling reactionary regimes all over the world deliberately call their own insurgents with derogatory names with intent to demonize and isolate them from the mainstream of society.
Columbus for instance when he landed in the Bahamas in 1492, was the first to call the natives of this place Indios. But liberation fighters and indigenous peoples in Middle and South America later, came to detest the name Indio because it was a trademark of their subjugation and maltreatment in the hands of European colonialists.
In the Philippines too during the Spanish period, the Spaniards relished with gusto calling Filipino revolutionaries as “erehes,” “tulisanes,” “indios,” “subersibos,” in the apparent motive of infusing into the people’s minds revulsion and disgust to the latter’s cause.
“Erehes” meaning uncivilized because they are reluctant to be integrated to Catholicism, the Spanish colonialists’ religion which became the accepted faith
of Filipino converts especially the Ilustrados (“enlightened ones”) and to the colonial system of government.
The colonialists’ use of the word “tulisanes” had a rebounding punch in the sense that it is the country’s wealth like sugar, cigars, and abaca (Manila hemp) that were on the contrary plundered by the Spanish colonialists to be transported to Spain. They were therefore the “tulisanes” not the Filipino people.
And Filipinos (although before there was yet no Filipino identity but the writer use the word for convenience) could not be “erehes” beforehand for long before their advent, the famous rice terraces had already been built which caught the admiration of foreigners as a product of Filipino ingenuity and engineering feat.
During the 1900s, when the US snatched the newly-won Philippine independence from Filipino revolutionaries, resistance fighters the likes of Macario Sakay and many others were ironically labeled by the US colonialists as “bandits” and thus justifiable by hanging. The greatest irony is that it is the owner of the house now who got accused of banditry by unwelcomed intruders. What a quirk of fate!
In the late 70s the Government of the Republic of the Philippines through its machinery the AFP and PNP labeled revolutionaries as dissident-terrorists or communist-terrorists. But this labeling have not gained popular usage especially when the GRP and the NDF sat on the negotiation table for peace talks in the late 80s. Thus it is only in the military circle that such labeling exists.
From that time on succeeding puppet regimes hitherto do not anymore label revolutionaries as “erehes.” They are too sophisticated to be called as such. Neither do they call them “bandits” anymore. The principle and practice of these organizations belie such labeling for proletarian revolutionaries do not rob nor steal on people. Now what is the “appropriate” name by which the ruling reactionary state can rally or mislead people to their call?
The terrorist bombings on the WTC provided a ready answer. Thanks to “terrorists,” now the US has all the reasons to occupy Iraq and name other countries as it pleases with names like “axis of evil.”
The war on terror (arising from the Sept 11 WTC bombing) espoused by Bush Jr, provided him with “justification” in naming the CPP/NPA/NDF along with 33 other organizations worldwide as Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
With the war on terror institutionalized by Bush, countries or organizations or peoples who are against the US policy of Pax Americana were branded “terrorists.” And the US-Arroyo regime in utter display of its obsequiousness followed suit in labeling revolutionaries as terrorists too. With this, one thing is clear.
Naming and defining terrorism is the prerogative and option only of the ruling reactionary regimes. They can call anybody and anything according to their own liking and wishes. Thus, the evolution of labeling revolutionaries as “terrorists” has become a byword to the US and its allies although others viewed it with skepticism.
Demonizing liberation fighters and revolutionaries to the eyes of the the world by calling them “terrorists” has only gained little or no gain at all because the US itself and its allied reactionary regimes commit acts of terrorism aptly deserving them to be called number one terrorists!
The US-Arroyo regime for instance has for long been terrorizing Lumad and peasant communities by subjecting it to aerial and mortar bombings, displacing and dislocating hundreds of people during the AFP-PNP counterinsurgency operations. It also employs surrogates to launch terrorism using Death Squads or Vigilantes or this Abu Sayyaf spectre to stifle legitimate dissent.
Jumbling revolutionaries and real terrorists as terrorists thereby creating blurred or no distinction between them has only weakened Bush’s supposed “war on terror.”
True, it has cushioned the impact of real terrorists’ evil deeds but objectively has only scathe slightly the feathers of revolutionaries. Thus this supposed war on terror by Bush would lead to nowhere for as long as there are political and economic oppression, exploitation, racial degradation and ethnic discrimination.
To quote Shakespeare’s, “a rose is still a rose even if called by some other name” is even more truer today considering the growing and widespread opposition to US policies nowadays despite the “terrorist” tag they placed on genuine revolutionary organizations.#