Friday, February 26, 2010

Profile of Representative Satur C. Ocampo

Representative Satur C. Ocampo

Satur C. Ocampo was born on April 7, 1939 in Sta. Rita, Pampanga in the Philippines to a family of landless tenant farmers. He is married to Carolina “Bobbie” Malay, a writer and professor of journalism. He has four children and two grandchildren.

He supported himself through his university education. In 1963, he worked as an economic journalist for the Manila Times until Martial Law shut down the newspaper in 1972.He was a vice-president of the National Press Club (NPC) in 1970-72.

In the developing political ferment in the ‘60s, Ocampo acquired a comprehensive grasp of the country’s problems and its history of struggle. In 1964, he became a founding member of the militant organization Kabataang Makabayan (Patriotic Youth). In 1967-68, he was elected to the National Council of the Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism (MAN).

Martial Law Period

He joined the revolutionary underground when Pres. Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law on Sept. 21, 1972. In 1973, Ocampo co-founded the National Democratic Front (NDF), which sought to unite various anti-dictatorship forces.

In 1976, he was arrested, severely tortured and detained for the next nine years in various prison camps during which he led prison protest actions against torture and other human rights violations. He was tried by a military court for rebellion but was never found guilty. In 1985, he escaped from prison and rejoined the underground revolutionary movement.

Post-Martial Law

After the dictatorship fell in 1986, and President Corazon Aquino called for peace talks with the NDF, Ocampo headed the NDF peace negotiating panel. He returned to the underground when the talks collapsed due to the killing by state security forces of 18 farmers at a rally near the Presidential Palace on January 22, 1987.

In 1989, he was rearrested with his wife. The couple was charged with and tried for the crimes of murder, kidnapping with serious illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms in pursuance of rebellion. He was freed in 1992, a year after his wife was released, without having been found guilty of any crime.

For the next years, Ocampo worked with people’s organizations and human rights formations. He also wrote columns and commentaries for the Philippine News and Features and several newspapers.

Parliamentary Struggle

Ocampo was elected President of Bayan Muna at its founding in 1999; he was the party’s lead nominee in its first foray into electoral politics in the May 14, 2001 congressional party-list election.

Bayan Muna topped the party-list race with an unprecedented 11.7% of the votes cast, earning it more than the required number of votes for maximum three party-list seats in Congress. Three Bayan Muna-sponsored bills, the Overseas Voting Act, Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, and Strengthening the Public Attorney’s Office Act have been enacted into law.

In the 12th Congress, Bayan Muna initiated the formation of an alliance, the Legislators Against War (LAW), to oppose US aggression in Iraq and elsewhere in the guise of “war on terror,” and the Legislators-Businessmen-People’s Forum (LBPF) to protect Philippine industry and agriculture against the destructive impacts of globalization.

Ocampo headed his party’s nominees in the party list elections for the 13th Congress in 2004 and the 14th Congress in 2007. Bayan Muna topped the 2004 elections with 10.8% of the votes cast, again securing three seats in Congress. In the 2007 elections, Bayan Muna won a fresh mandate to retain its seats.

In the 13th Congress, Ocampo headed the House Special Committee on Peace, Unity and Reconciliation, and was a vice-chair of the Human Rights Committee.

Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela Women’s Party formed an independent bloc in 2005 and broke away from the House majority. As head of the bloc, Ocampo has since been elected a Deputy Minority Leader and is a member of all standing and special committees.

He is a principal author of the law abolishing the death penalty. He has authored bills penalizing torture and enforced disappearances, the Marcos human rights victims compensation bill, command responsibility bill, measures to develop a national drug industry, and others.

As a key opposition figure, Ocampo has survived thus far a sustained government campaign of political repression against his party and himself.

In 2007, he won the dismissal by the Supreme Court of a trumped-up rebellion charge, and bail also by the Supreme Court on trumped-up charges of multiple murder. The Inter-Parliamentary Union and parliamentarians worldwide have taken cognizance of these cases, and have urged the Philippine government to stop the campaign of brutal repression against Ocampo and the legal Left.