Ocampo jumps on Villar slip, denies link to NPA

Ocampo jumps on Villar slip, denies link to NPA
By Nikko Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Senatorial candidate Satur Ocampo, a party-list representative of the militant Bayan Muna, Wednesday denied having any “organizational links” with the communist New People’s Army (NPA).

Ocampo said he could not understand why Sen. Manuel Villar, the presidential candidate of the Nacionalista Party (NP) under which Ocampo is running as a “guest” candidate, had mentioned his name in relation to the “permit to campaign” issue.

“We categorically deny having organizational links with the NPA. We deny that we are among the parties paying the PTC (permit to campaign),” Ocampo said.

In denying military allegations that he was among the candidates paying the NPA to be “allowed” to campaign in NPA-controlled areas, Villar told reporters in Davao City the other day: “Why should I still pay when they are already with us, they are our friends.”

Villar explained that he was referring to Ocampo and Liza Maza of the militant Gabriela party-list group, who are both NP guest senatorial candidates.

Invoking Satur’s name

Ocampo said he wondered why Villar would “invoke [his] name” in relation to the permit to campaign issue.

“I don’t know what he meant. Maybe we can trace it from where I came from but he also made it clear that I am not part of the armed group,” Ocampo laughingly said.

Ocampo was a business journalist in the 1960s who became one of the founding members of the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) and later spokesperson of the National Democratic Front (NDF), the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Categorized as Left

He was one of the many activists who went underground after the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972. He was arrested in 1976 and detained for nine years.

A leftist leader declined to comment on Villar’s “slip-up,” while another activist noted that the politician with the rags-to-riches campaign line was simply “not an activist.”

While admitting that Bayan Muna was under the “general category of the Left,” Ocampo lamented that the military continued to accuse him of being a leader of the CPP.

“They [the military] say I am an officer and member of the CPP. Then I’ll pay them the PTC? They are themselves confused,” Ocampo said.

Deposed President Joseph Estrada Wednesday started his campaign in the reputed NPA stronghold of Bicol, and rejected the idea of paying the communist rebels.

Illegal

“That’s illegal per se. Are you recognizing them as a government? There’s only one government as far as I’m concerned,” Estrada told reporters.

“Even in 1998, when I was campaigning, I went to all the areas that are supposedly infested by the NPA. (I paid) not a single cent,” he said, referring to his first and successful presidential campaign in 1998.

Estrada will be campaigning through the provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Sorsogon until Friday.

He said he expects to win in the vote-rich region that has almost three million voters. With Norman Bordadora

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.