Francisco Nemenzo, Jr.

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Francisco Nemenzo

Template:TOCnestleft Francisco Nemenzo, Jr. is a Filipino political scientist, educator and activist, and was the 18th president of the University of the Philippines. He has become a prominent Marxist figure in the Philippine academe.

He was born to Francisco Nemenzo, Sr., himself a former dean of the UP College of Arts and Sciences and Catalina Alfafara Nemenzo, a senior librarian at the UP Diliman university library. Nemenzo, Sr. was a pioneering marine zoologist, considered the father of Philippine coral taxonomy.

Called "Dodong" by friends, Nemenzo, Jr. was also a prominent participant in the Philippine communist movement, and was one of its leading Marxist theoreticians. As a graduate student in England, he joined a communist club in England, immersing himself in Marxist philosophy, economics, and politics. Upon his return to the Philippines, Nemenzo joined the old Communist Party, rising to the third highest position as the party's secretary of education and head of the international department. When martial law was declared in 1972, he and his wife, Ana Maria Nemenzo, went underground but were captured a few months later.[1]

After his release from prison, Dodong Nemenzo rejoined the political science faculty of UP. From 1976 onwards, he served UP in various capacities: as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Faculty Regent, Chancellor of UP Visayas, and President of the UP System. Prior to his election as UP's president, it has been said that Nemenzo's leftist orientation was the cause of strong opposition regarding his previous nomination for the post.

Socialist Scholars Conference

In July, 1991, Jim Anderton was a keynote speaker at a Democratic Socialist Party run Socialist Scholars Conference in Melbourne. He shared the closing plenary with Filipino Trotskyite Francisco Nemenzo and Frank Stilwell, president of the New Left Party (formerly known as the Communist Party of Australia).

The Socialist Scholars Conference, held at Melbourne University High on July 18-21, 1991, around the theme of Ecology, Socialism and Human Survival, was a resounding success according to both organisers and participants. The second such conference to be held in Australia, it attracted around 800 activists and academics from around the country.[2]

Denounces murder

On May 19, 1993, former University of the Philippines president Francisco Nemenzo, now chairperson of the left coalition Laban ng Masa (Struggle of the masses), denounced the murder of Movement for National Democracy (KDP) leader Analiza Gandia in Balanga, Bataan on May 18. This was the tenth murder of a left activist in two weeks, and the "third time in five months that a KDP organiser was killed in the same town in a style that bears the imprint of paramilitary thugs. Last month a Laban ng Masa national council member was slain in Davao using the same style." Nemenzo said there is a "clear pattern in these cowardly acts. Unable to beat the armed rebels in combat", loyalists to the president Gloria Arroyo are "hitting non-combatants to stop the swelling movement for her ouster. The idealistic young officers should live up to their avowed duty as defenders of the people and take the necessary steps to gain a heroic image for their profession."[3]

Asia Pacific Institute for Democratisation and Development

During the 1998 Asia Pacific Solidarity Conference, the interim council of the Asia Pacific Institute for Democratisation and Development met and confirmed its membership.

The members are Syed Husin Ali (PRM, Malaysia), Nico Warouw (PRD, Indonesia), Renato Constantino, Jr. (Sanlakas, Philippines), Dr Francisco Nemenzo (BISIG, Philippines), Ana Maria Nemenzo (WomenHealth, Philippines), Max Lane (DSP, Australia), Dr Helen Jarvis (DSP, Australia) and Dr Sunil Ratnapriya (NSSP, Sri Lanka).

The council met again immediately after the conference and resolved to quickly expand the institute's membership. Representatives from Thailand, India and Pakistan attended and will be invited to join the council.

An interim council was formed to establish the institute. The provisional aims were agreed as:

1. To promote research and disseminate ideas on how to ensure socially just and environmentally sustainable development, as well as real democracy.

2. To facilitate dialogue and cooperation between the academic community, the NGO community and people's movements, such as political parties, trade unions and campaign committees.[4]

Soldiers rebellion

Over 50 military and civilian dissidents remain in custody following the storming of the Manila Peninsular luxury hotel on November 29, 2007, by troops loyal to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to dislodge a group of soldiers who had seized the hotel and used it to hold a press conference calling for a "people's power" uprising against the unpopular president. Civil society and religious leaders joined the rebels at the press conference.

While their demands met with public sympathy, that was reflected at the thousands-strong workers' march the next day, the rebellion was suppressed before a "people's power" uprising had time to materialise.

The dramatic events began with a session of the trial of Senator Antonio Trillanes and a dozen other military officers for their role in an anti-Arroyo uprising in 2003. In May, while in detention awaiting trial, Trillanes was elected to the Senate with 11 million votes.

At the trial, Trillanes and the other defendants got up and marched out of court. Instead of stopping them, the soldiers assigned as their guards marched out with them. After holding a rally outside the court, they marched to the Manila Peninsular, joined by religious and civil society figures, including Bishop Julio Labayen, former vice-president Teofisto Guingona and left-wing academic Professor Francisco Nemenzo from the socialist organisation Laban ng Masa.

Inside the hotel the rebels, numbering about 30 soldiers and 20 civilians, were joined by representatives of the local and international media. At the ensuing press conference, Trillanes explained that the soldiers had no intention of taking power for themselves, or any other section of the armed forces, but called on the people to rise up and overthrow the corrupt regime.

Arroyo came to power in 2001 after a mass uprising overthrew president Juan Estrada, in whose administration she was vice-president. Estrada was later imprisoned for corruption and links with organized crime but pardoned by Arroyo. While Arroyo won presidential elections in 2004, evidence has since surfaced, including taped conversations, that has confirmed the widespread suspicion that this was achieved through electoral fraud.

The rebels called on other members of the armed forces to withdraw support from the Arroyo regime, which did not eventuate. About 1000 pro-government military and paramilitary forces surrounded the hotel before launching an assault that involved ramming armoured personnel carriers through the front of the hotel and tear-gassing and handcuffing journalists and TV crews as well as the rebels. A curfew was imposed until the following morning.[5]