SAN AGUSTIN, Surigao del Sur (MindaNews/27 December) — In a country where divorce and contraceptives are taboo because of the strong influence of the church in this predominantly Roman Catholic country, Philippine rebels are taking up the cudgels of people with different sexual preferences.
Communist leader Jorge Madlos, aka Ka Oris, on Sunday said gays are welcome to join the ranks of the New People’s Army (NPA), armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
Madlos, speaking on the 42nd founding anniversary of the CPP, said they even allow marriage between same sexes and do not discriminate against them.
The NPA set a record in February 2005 by officiating the highly publicized first ever known same sex marriage in the Philippines.
The marriage was between comrades Ka Andres and Ka Jose who exchanged vows in front of comrades, witnesses and some journalists. It was officiated by senior members of the Southern Mindanao Regional Party Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
But after about a year or two, the couple separated. Ka Andres whose real name was Val Mente was reported to have died later from a rat-borne disease some two years ago while his spouse has reportedly left the rebel movement.
Gay activists in the Philippines led by PRO Gay welcomed the NPA recognition of same sex marriage and challenged the then Arroyo government to pass a law allowing gay marriages.
The bill however did not go beyond the committee levels of Congress.
The NPAs are also reportedly allowing lesbian relationships but do not allow gay couples to serve in the same guerrilla unit inside Asia’s oldest running armed movement as husbands and wives.
Relationships inside the rebel movement are governed by a set of rules embodied in the rebel document titled OPRS (On Personal Relationship of Sexes).
Courtship goes through the collectives of each prospective partner and women are allowed to court men.
Madlos said they do not discriminate against the sexual preferences of their members, although promiscuous relationships and sexual opportunism are strictly prohibited and carry disciplinary actions.
Marriage inside the rebel movement is usually officiated by a high ranking rebel officer or a senior cadre. Couples swear their love and loyalty to each other with the communist flag as a backdrop and hand bullets to each other while exchanging vows.
The question of gay marriage was first brought up by a gay reporter last year during the 41st anniversary of the CPP. The gay reporter made a silent fist-pumping “Yes!” remark after hearing a positive answer to his question. (Edwin G. Espejo writes for www.asiancorrespondent.com)