Socialist leader assassinated in the Philippines

Socialist Alternative is immensely saddened and angered to hear of the assassination of Comrade Ruben by Philippines government armed forces on 4 March. 

Our deepest solidarity and condolences go to comrades in the Philippines and in the international Marxist movement. We are all diminished by this dreadful loss.

Over the past few years we have been fortunate to have had contact with the comrades of the People’s Revolutionary Army (RPA) and the People’s Revolutionary Party – Mindanao (RPM-M), the Philippines section of the Fourth International. We have benefited from numerous discussions of revolutionary Marxist politics with comrades from the Philippines at international meetings in various countries. 

The experiences of veterans of the movement in the Philippines, such as Comrade Ruben, continue to inspire us with their steadfastness and enduring dedication. The fact that Comrade Ruben’s commitment to Marxist politics led him in the 1990s to break from the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army speaks of a life well-lived in the struggle for socialism, regardless of personal cost. Now, his dedicated resistance to capitalism has been repaid by the government with bullets.

Despite our being in the same geographic region as the Philippines, the conditions under which we operate could hardly be more different. Extra-judicial killings in the Philippines have taken the lives of many. Now they have removed Comrade Ruben from the key role that he would have continued to play in the struggle.

It is hard to describe how inspired Australian revolutionaries, both young and old, have been by the bravery of comrades operating under immensely difficult and dangerous conditions in the Philippines. To Comrade Ruben we say: “Red salute!”

Statement issued by the Bureau of the Fourth International, 7 March 2017

On 4 March 2017, Comrade Ruben was killed by the army in the province of Lanao del Norte, Mindanao, Philippines.

This was clearly an assassination. Ruben was wanted for his involvement in the People’s Revolutionary Army (RPA) and the People’s Revolutionary Party – Mindanao (RPM-M), the Philippine section of the Fourth International. But he was visiting friends and family. He was not carrying any weapons. He could easily have been arrested; he was executed.

It was not the police (who were also present), but a heavily equipped government infantry battalion that led the operation in Kapatagan. Ruben is the only one to have been killed, a victim of numerous shots.

Ruben was a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), before breaking in 1994 and participating in the founding process of the RPM-M / RPA. A political and military cadre, he made many enemies among local landowners for his activities against drug trafficking; against the purchase of votes by local politicians during the elections; against gangs and henchmen in the service of despotic landowners, whom he disarmed; and for the defence of the peasants and the rural poor.

The popularity of the RPM-M / RPA in north-west Mindanao dates back to the early 1980s (under the then Communist Party, Maoist). After the split in 1994, the new organisation consistently adopted a defensive politico-military posture. It stopped all offensive operations against the army and promptly initiated peace talks, under the Arroyo administration (2001-10).

The current president, Duterte, undertook to relaunch the peace processes in the Philippines and, in particular, in Mindanao. The attack by the police and the army, and the assassination of Ruben, is in contradiction with this commitment. This is in fact a violation of the peace talks previously initiated with the RPM-M / RPA.

We share the grief of Ruben’s comrades and we send them our deepest solidarity.

We call for international solidarity to ensure that all progressive and revolutionary forces in the Philippines are supported, as extra-judicial killings have already created so many victims.