‘Destabilizing’ Artists

May 30, 2006 at 2:44 am | Posted in News | Leave a comment

‘Destabilizing’ Artists
The imprisonment of poet Axel Alejandro Pinpin and musician Alexis Uy shows the reality that artists cannot escape from political contradictions of their time.
BY DENNIS ESPADABulatlat

The imprisonment of poet Axel Alejandro Pinpin and musician Alexis Uy shows the reality that artists cannot escape from political contradictions of their time.

And in the midst of what they perceive as an attack against freedom of _expression, the Artists for the Removal of Gloria (ARREST Gloria), a broad alliance of artists and cultural groups, stated that they cannot bring themselves “to be silent at a time when the forces of darkness have begun to haul artists to the silence of the graveyard.”

Pinpin, 34, an Agriculture graduate of the Cavite State University, is a 1999 Fellow of the University of the Philippines (UP) Writers’ Workshop and author of a self-published poetry compilation titled Tugmaang Walang Tugma (Rhyming without Ryhmes). Friends say he had been compiling poems for a second book at the time he was arrested.

Axel Pinpin  Axel Alejandro Pinpin  

Meanwhile, Uy, 26, is a member of Artistang Pangkultura ng Mamalakaya sa Timog Katagalugan (APLAYA or Cultural Artists of Fisherfolks in Southern Tagalog) which he helped organize, aside from working as a researcher for the Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK or Federation of Peasant Organizations in Southern Tagalog).

Being researchers of peasant organizations, both artists were supposed to take part in protest rallies in commemoration of Labor Day to be held in Cavite and Quezon provinces.

Pinpin and his companions – Kalipunan ng mga Magsasaka sa Kabite (Kamagsasaka-Ka or Farmer’s Federation in Cavite) organizer Riel Custodio, researcher Aristedes Sarmiento, and local residents Enrico Ybañez and Michael Masayes – were nabbed April 28 somewhere in Sungay village, Tagaytay City by Philippine National Police (PNP) elements and Philippine Navy intelligence agents. Last week, they were charged with rebellion before the Tagaytay City Regional Trial Court while being detained at Camp Vicente Lim in Canlubang, Laguna.

Meanwhile, Uy together with 14 farmers belonging to Kongreso ng Magbubukid para sa Repormang Agraryo (KOMPRA or Peasant Congress for Agrarian Reform) were seized April 30 while traveling on a bus going to Candelaria and kept in isolated detention at the Philippine Army’s Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) headquarters in Camp Nakar, Lucena City.

Their captors presented them to the media as New People’s Army (NPA) rebels involved in an alleged anti-government “destabilization plot.”
Peasant advocates

While officials of the PNP and the military insists that they have recovered “evidences” linking the suspects to so-called “destabilizers,” they did not elaborate on the connection to reinforce their claims.

On the contrary, Kamagsasaka-Ka stated, there appeared to be signs of torture inflicted on the suspects. They expressed worry after seeing on TV newscasts video footages showing Custodio limping, Sarmiento’s bandaged leg and Pinpin looking as though he was suffering from asthma attacks.

They also said the police took away a large sum of money that belongs to the farmers. The cash was reserved to purchase pardo (muscovado) and kapeng barako (a native coffee variety) under the Fair Trade Agreement signed in 2004 between the farmer’s group and the Vancouver-based non-government organization Shuswap Association for the Promotion of Eco-Development (SAPED) for the purpose of raising the prices of sugar cane and unrefined coffee in Cavite and Batangas.

“Nakapagtatakang hindi ipinapahayag ng pamunuan ng pulis na nakuha din nila ang halagang mahigit 400,000 piso na noong oras na maganap ang pagdukot sa lima ay nasa pag-iingat nina Pinpin at Custodio” (It is a wonder why the PNP leadership did not say that they also confiscated the P400,000 that Pinpin and Custodio were holding when the five were arrested), Kamagsasaka-Ka spokesman Rogelio Galit told Bulatlat.

Colleagues from Kasama-TK, meanwhile, said the allegation that Uy is an NPA member is false, with the latter having graduated recently from the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Social Work and Community Development. In fact, Uy has been working on two research projects: one is a case study on the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in the Bondoc Peninsula and the other is about the coconut industry in Quezon, in preparation for the CARP’s 18th anniversary on June 10.
Uy has been recently released, but is reported to be under continuing surveillance.
Resisting restraint

Citing the cases of Pinpin and Uy, the Arroyo administration is like telling artists that they “are free only for so long as they refrain from challenging the ruling clique and the manner in which it ‘orders’ the country,” ARREST Gloria declared in a statement.

“To prohibit dissent is to curtain freedom of _expression,” the ARREST Gloria statement read. “As lawyer and historical conversationist Trixie Angeles said, ‘Without freedom of _expression there can be no artist.'”
ARREST Gloria, together with the poets’ group Kilometer 64 has called on artists and writers to work together for the release of Pinpin and resist all attempts by the government to impose restraint. Bulatlat

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