Archive for the ‘Ideology’ Category


In my previous article, I vowed to present detailed arguments to prove my thesis that the assassination of Vice Mayor Alexander Tomawis, who previously served as Mayor of the Municipality of Barira for three terms, was also the end of the processes of democratization in the troubled province of Maguindanao.

But as I subject the life of Alex Tomawis to deeper retrospection, it dawned on me that to measure his social significance using as a benchmark the stalled “processes of democratization” in the Municipality of Barira could logically result to the trivialization of his achievement and his dream for the Iranuns, and rest of Mindanao.

The cause that Alex Tomawis gallantly fought for his constituencies, during his life time, pierces deep into the core of the problem that besets the Bangsamoro Homeland for so many decades.

His was a battle to end the isolationist character of local governance in Maguindanao and the rest of the Island, with the Municipality of Barira and the two other municipalities comprising the Iranun Development Council (IDC) as venues of apprenticeship for democratic Moro governance.

Alex Tomawis believed then that, unless a type of governance that totally deprives the Moro masses any access to the processes of decision-making and secludes them wholly from any mechanism that provides opportunities for the people’s meaningful exercise of economic power, lasting peace in Maguindanao and the rest of the Island can never be attained.

His was a new type of a social revolution that intends to transfer political and economic power into the base of society by empowering the masses to optimize the untapped power of their rationality to take hold of their resources, decide for the processes of their becoming, and to freely chart their own destiny.

This is not as simple as we think it is, in the first blush. I know that Alex had realized this as he harped for his last breath after his fragile body was riddled with bullets. For the well-entrenched political warlords in Maguindanao, his is a revolutionary proposition for it intends to totally dismantle a social system and traditional practices that afford them unbridled political and economic power and benefits.

Thus, for the Moro Elite of Maguindanao, a person who works to transform this status quo is flirting with death. Alex Tomawis did, and so, as destined for one who bravely treads into this dangerous ground, is now “resting” in his grave, with his unfulfilled dream and unfinished revolution.

Tom Villarin, an Akbayan nominee who authored many occasional papers for Mindanao and who had long been in the forefront of the struggle for peace and development in this troubled Island, is mourning the untimely death of Vice Mayor Tomawis the way Mark Anthony did to Caesar. This is for a reason.

Above all else, Tom knows every facet of Alex Tomawis’ political exploits and perfectly appreciates every bit of his dream for his people. Tom knows how the fire burns in the heart of Alex Tomawis every time the fires of unrest visit the homeland of the Iranuns. His dream for his people is too noble to be forgotten.

I accompany Tom in his drive to immortalize the dreams of Alex Tomawis, so his people may be able to pick up the torch where he left it and to continue with his difficult journey … and so that he may not die in vain.

Like Tom, I was also privileged to be with this man, Alex, as he reels towards a dream of attaining development and meaningful peace in the municipality of Barira and its the adjoining localities, which constantly serve as a theater of war in the mainland of Mindanao. It was by working with Alex that I came to fully know the character of a man who would soon become a hero for the Iranuns.

I did not have the opportunity to see him beginning in the middle part of 2004 when I was forced by circumstances to voluntarily leave Akbayan and its development networks to undergo the painful processes of self-rectification and reinvention.

Although, I confess that there were times when I was tempted to text him for help when I was soaked in crippling poverty, the kind that almost shattered my family and snatched away my sanity. But, after I weighed things judiciously, I held myself against the temptation to preserve whatever “good impression” he had then on me.

Now that I begin to celebrate my success, and my feat, in preserving the unity of my family amid the cascading misfortunes, Alex Tomawis ended his story. It is also a pity that, at the very same time when I am about to rise from the rubbles and restore my social significance and my dream, he perished.

I happened to head a team of development planners which supervised a six-day practicum for the trainees in participatory development planning in the Municipality of Barira sometime in 2003. One night, while we were in a deep sleep, a loud explosion thundered. Still in half-sleep and trembling furiously, I quickly moved to bury my head on the cemented corner of the municipality (I am a born coward). A few seconds after that, Alex came to me laughing. Then, in a very assuring voice, he told me: “Ben, this is my place. We are safe here.” Embarrassed, I slept my whole night out, with his words serving as my comforting mantle.

Alex was right in embracing a thought that he was safe in the place of his birth and in the bosom of his people. However, he failed to perceive that he could be unsafe in a “safer” place, but away from the people for whose welfare and interest he eventually offered his life.

Previously, I made a solemn vow not to stop writing about Alex Tomawis until justice is served to him, to his family and to his people. But today I pledge to continue writing about this great man for a greater purpose, that is, to immortalize his deeds and his dreams for the glory of successor-generations.


We are still to find any political operative, working within the local progressive circle in General Santos City, who publicly articulates the political concept of the so-called Transitional Revolutionary Government (TRG), which is hailed by many quarters in Manila as a genuine democratic alternative for the country.

This baffles us no end. Almost everyday, we witness how the men and women within the Laban ng Masa (LnM), a broad coalition of democratic left forces, struggled to articulate the TRG concept in all their national campaigns. Yet, their voices fail to reverberate at General Santos City’s political landscape, once a stronghold of democratic left forces.

We can only guess for reasons. Allow us to venture only on three: One, the local leadership of the LnM is unwilling to engage in the propagation of a highly activist proposal because of its conservative view of things; Two, the local LnM forces are too weak and are unable to situate themselves at the center of political discourse; and Three, the local LnM is dominated by people who still entertain fears for the unknown.

Whatever the reasons are for this shortcoming, we find it disgusting that this supposedly liberating political concept is not given prominence in the local political stage. To fill the gap, we decide to play the role of an explainer in behalf of LnM leaders in the city, so as not to deprive our local communities of the basic knowledge about this brilliant political concept.

Let us begin! The TRG is contextualized on the failure of the two EDSA people power revolutions which resulted only to regime change and not to system change, benefiting the masses. It finds moorings on the analysis that these people power revolutions merely resulted to the transfer of political power from one faction of the elite to another, with the masses merely serving as pawns in this endless contestation for pelf and power.

If there was any fatal flaw involving the two EDSAs, it was the failure of progressive forces to seize the opportunities offered by these dramatic political events; that is, to take control of state power to institute needed political reforms and eventually transform society.

Thus, TRG was conceptualized to avoid the repeat of the same mistake. In conformity with this concept, the People’s Council – composed of representatives of progressive sectors, social movements, civil society organizations and other allied social sections – shall be set up in time for the rupture of the Macapagal-Arroyo regime. It shall preside over the country’s transition from an elite-controlled democracy to such type of a democratic system that affords basic sectors and communities their meaningful access to political and economic power.

The TRG is a momentary state instrument; thus, it shall manage society’s affairs, through the People’s Council, only within the period of 60 to 90 days. Within this short time frame, the TRG shall institute political and electoral reforms (foremost shall be the weeding out of misfits in COMELEC), after attaining the objective and subjective conditions for the unhampered pursuit of such reforms.

Thereafter, the TRG shall call for the convening of the Constitutional Convention, under a genuinely democratic climate, to free the Philippine Constitution from the vestiges of colonialism and capitalism and for the holding of synchronized national and local elections, within a well-leveled electoral playing field.

Admittedly, as human project, the TRG concept is not free from flaws. For instance, it is yet to clearly define how the highly factionalized military and the capitalist-owned media networks shall be dealt with during the precarious period of social reconstruction. We are not also so sure whether social reconstruction efforts could be effectively pursued, following the expected rupture of the prevailing regime, in the absence of a potent social base supportive of the TRG.

The escalation of political discourses at the local level could help solve the puzzle. Unfortunately, this is not happening in General Santos City.

The democratic left forces, armed with a better political alternative, have more reasons to pursue their own revolutionary ideals more vigorously. Therefore, they should not evade; they should not run away.

When Mao Tse-Tung said that one of the marks of true revolutionaries is their mastery of the art of running away, he was not actually making a funny description of guerilla warfare. He was merely joking!