Tweet "The Right is ascendant in Southeast Asia, and the Left is being pummeled -- literally, to death -- in the Philippines.
"When the military seized power in Thailand last year, some pro-coup Filipinos in neighboring Manila were green with envy. The Thai coup came months after young Filipino soldiers botched a mutiny to oust Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on charges that she cheated her way through the 2004 presidential race. It was the second failed coup since Arroyo became president in 2001 through a military-backed revolt.
"The rebel soldiers’ failed experiments pushed the Arroyo government to the right. Battling a four-decade communist insurgency -- the longest in Asia -- and faced with intermittent grumbling from the army, President Arroyo found a way to keep her soldiers preoccupied: She has given them a hefty budget to crush the communist rebellion within the next two years.
Is it by coincidence then that for the last two years, at least a hundred Leftist activists have been gunned down by unknown and unpunished assailants? For a time last year, one activist was being killed every single day. The Left is accusing the military of masterminding the killings, while the government is insisting that the Left is killing its own. The government line is a hard one to bite.
"Last month, Philip Alston, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on human rights, spent 10 days in the Philippines listening to both sides. He left with a stinging report against the government and the military, and asked the President to take more decisive steps to look into the soldiers’ involvement in the extrajudicial killings.
"Yet, while the deaths have had a chilling effect on older activists, they have galvanized the youth on the Left.
"The party-list group, Bayan Muna, which is being linked to the communist party, remains the most popular party-list group in the upcoming May elections. This is out of a list that includes groups created by the government and its politicians.