In defense of Teddy Casiño
This is a response to Estanislao Albano’s letter, “Of genuine patriots and defenders,” (3/24/18).
In his letter, he criticized former Bayan Muna party-list representative Teddy Casiño for defending Myles Albasin, a University of the Philippines-Cebu graduate, who was arrested in the hinterlands of Negros Oriental and was readily tagged as a member of the New People’s Army.
Estanislao compared Albasin to the late senator Juan Flavier in an attempt to downplay the significance of the national democratic movement. He argued that the latter served the country better because he “threw away the chance for his poor family to have a better life when, after becoming a doctor, he chose to live and work with barrio folks for 30 years,” whereas the former “is regarded with distrust because she belongs to a group suspected of being an enemy of the state.”
Interestingly, Albasin could have landed a high-paying job as most college graduates aspire for, but instead she chose to live among the peasants in the countryside. True, Flavier offered most of his life to help the poor, but it is unfair to dismiss others’ sacrifices just because they belong to an organization—be it legal or underground—that the government has labeled as “terrorist.” Lest we forget, Macario Sakay and the Tagalog Republic, that continued to fight for our national independence, were tagged as bandits by the American colonizers. Besides, who is really the terrorist in this country with all the thousands of Filipinos murdered under a bloody drug war that exempts drug lords?
Furthermore, Albano’s assumption that the poor would welcome “educated Filipinos” with open arms if they do not represent the mass movement is purely based on prejudice against the Left. Apparently, he doesn’t know a thing about the likes of Lean Alejandro, Lorenzo Tañada and Eman Lacaba. To say that nobody is calling for Albasin’s release from prison only proves his sources are only limited to those of mainstream media and cheap tabloids.
Finally, Albano must be high when he said that “the Filipino electorate has a way of telling the genuine patriots” from those who are not, hence Casiño lost his senatorial bid in 2013. I wonder who he was referring to as “genuine patriots.” Is it Bong Revilla or Jinggoy Estrada who are both multiterm senators? It is worth noting that Claro M. Recto, “the greatest mind of his generation,” did not win the presidency in 1957 despite his nationalist crusade not because he lacked patriotic convictions, but rather due to the fact that Philippine elections are determined by popularity and wealth—and not by principle. It is therefore foolish to judge one’s patriotism based on the outcome of an election dominated by TV personalities and the elite.
I was there at the launching of “Cavite Against Structural Tyranny: Our United Testimony” last Feb. 19 in Dasmariñas, Cavite, where Casiño served as guest speaker. Local workers, farmers, urban poor, students and professionals warmly welcomed the former lawmaker regardless of his political affiliation. Casiño may not be a “genuine patriot” in the eyes of Albano, but for the Filipino people who clamor for genuine freedom, respect for human rights, social justice and equality, he surely is.
DANIEL ALOC, firstname.lastname@example.org
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