Artists' groups, 2 directors backing communist movement, ex-rebel claims

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 04 2020 01:02 AM

MANILA - At least 2 artist groups and 2 prominent directors are involved in the communist movement, a former member of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New Peoples Army (NPA) claimed on Tuesday.

The Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP), and the Musicians and Artists of the Philippines (MAP) are "open organizations" the CPP uses as "recruitment grounds" in seeking support from the entertainment industry, Jeffrey "Ka Eric" Celiz said in a Senate hearing.

"May tinatawag po na underground groups sa hanay ng mga manunulat, sa hanay ng mga artista, sa showbiz," he alleged.

"They are part of a very long tradition of infiltration and recruitment of showbiz personalities," he added.

Not all members of the 2 groups sign up to be part of the armed insurgency, but have been "supporting the NPA directly or indirectly," he said.

Celiz said did not name the 2 prominent film directors who were allegedly backing the communist movement.

"Hindi ko na sasabihin yung mga pangalan nila pero ang mga pelikula nila ay [inaudible], 'Maynila sa Kuko ng Agila' at 'Walang Himala,'" he said.

However, there were no such films in the Philippines.

It was unclear if Celiz was referring to Lino Brocka's "Maynila sa Kuko ng Liwanag" or Augusto Buenaventura's "Sa Kuko ng Agila".

"Walang Himala," is a famous line from Ishmael Bernal's "Himala," but it was also not clarified if Celiz was referring to this film.

Celiz said that the CPP-NPA has been using legal organizations as a front to recruit more members into the underground communist movement.

Those who will show interest to the ideologies of the CPP-NPA will be invited to join an underground group, before he or she can become a "candidate" to join the actual communist party, he said.

"They are not NPA right away but they are supporting directly or indirectly," he said.

'ACTIVISM, NOT TERRORISM'

The Concerned Artists of the Philippines said it "condemns the vilification" of the group.

"These are baseless, dangerous, and shameful accusations, besmirching our name and the names of our late founders," the group's Secretary-General Lisa Ito said in a statement.

The organization was formed in 1983 " in protest against censorship during the Marcos dictatorship," she said.

"We have always stood for freedom of expression and the people’s welfare Even if it means having to call out and criticize those in power. That is activism, not terrorism," she said.

The group denounced the government for "endangering the lives of citizens" by accusing them "of being communist-terrorists."

"It is shameful that the government is channelling resources and time at this time to dignifying red-tagging when communities across the Cordillera, Bicol and Southern Tagalog regions are in dire need of support and attention after the impacts of typhoon Rolly," Ito said.

"The so-called 'communist-terrorist' organizations and celebrities they are targeting are now busy with organizing relief efforts," she said.

Senate Committee on National Defense and Security chair Panfilo Lacson said Celiz and military officials should provide documents that would prove their allegations against these groups.

"As of now, puro words naririnig natin (all we hear are), testimonies... what more could convince us kung merong document that could address yung testimonies na pinapahayag dito," Lacson, a former Philippine National Police chief, said. 

"Ang challenge, prove. Provide the evidence that would show na 'yung mga party-list, mga legal front talagang (are really) affiliated under ng CPP," he said.