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COMMENTARY

In defense of Myles Albasin

05:07 AM March 12, 2018

Myles Albasin is the 21-year-old mass communication graduate of the University of the Philippines Cebu who was recently arrested in the hinterlands of Mabinay, Negros Oriental, on suspicion that she is a member of the New People’s Army (NPA).

She was arrested with five other young people by government troops who claimed to have engaged them in a 45-minute gun battle. Allegedly recovered from the group were several high-powered rifles, ammunition, explosives, plus some “subversive documents.”

Curiously, no one got wounded or even injured in that supposed 45-minute shootout between fully armed government troops and around 20 alleged NPA guerrillas. Residents in the area reported hearing only three shots.

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More curious is that Myles and her companions are being charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives. If they were really NPAs caught shooting it out with government troops, they should have been tested for powder burns and charged with rebellion.

Myles has denied the charges, saying she was unarmed and in the area merely to conduct social investigation on the plight of the local farmers. A local farmers’ organization and Myles’ colleagues in the youth group Anakbayan have come forward to corroborate her claim. Meanwhile, the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Negros has categorically denied that she is a member of the NPA.

I do not personally know Myles. I do not know if she is a rebel or an ordinary activist.

What I know is that for someone so young, intelligent and good-looking, she could have been anything she wanted. She could have embarked on a career in the mass media or advertising, or taken up law, pursued postgraduate studies, or found employment overseas.

But she has made a totally different choice in life. And for that she is being bashed on social media for “wasting” her gifts and “squandering” her opportunities.

Indeed, why would she abandon a comfortable bourgeois life to live among poor peasants in some faraway barrio? Why the choice for the road less traveled?

I remember finding myself in the same situation 25 years ago. Fresh out of college, I wanted to make a difference in the world. I wanted to help liberate the poor and the downtrodden from their oppression.

Like Myles, I lived among poor farmers in some hinterland barrio. I listened to their stories, learned their ways, and tried to help in some way in alleviating their sorry plight.

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If, by some twist of fate, an army unit had chanced upon me in that village, I would have been accused of being an NPA, too. To their mind, what other reason would there be for a fresh UP graduate to be in that godforsaken place than foment rebellion?

In truth, I was rebelling against my own middle-class instinct to go along with an oppressive system that assured me of a future up the social ladder. Immersing with the poor was my way of standing my ground, of trying to radically change that system through a movement whose victory I could only hope to see in my lifetime.

Perhaps that was what Myles was doing in that faraway village, too.

But the authorities and her detractors believe she is a terrorist. They will even charge her with a common crime to deny the political nature of her alleged acts.

The Commander in Chief believes that women like Myles should be shot in the vagina because, in his misogynist mind, that would make them useless.

Perhaps her only crime was choosing to live and fight with the oppressed when she could have joined the oppressors or simply sat back and watched while sipping her Starbucks coffee. To that I think she would happily plead guilty.

I’m glad that we still have young men and women like Myles. They’re the ones that give me hope and inspiration. They’re the ones who will build a better world for all of us.

* * *

Teddy Casiño served as Bayan Muna representative in 2004-2013 and is now back in the parliament of the streets.

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TAGS: Communist rebels, Inquirer Commentary, Myles Albasin, NPA, Teddy Casiño
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