Mar 122013
 

THE PHILIPPINES IN THE FIRING LINE
AMERICA’S “SECOND FRONT IN THE ‘WAR ON TERROR’” AND THE IMPACT ON HUMAN RIGHTS

 

 

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was installed as president in 2001 as a result of a People Power uprising that ousted Joseph Estrada from Malacanang.  But not only did she fail to address the issues that were raised during People Power 2, her regime unleashed fascist attacks against the people and continued to violate human rights and international humanitarian law with impunity.

 

In  less than  three  years, the  Arroyo  regime  has  committed 3,339 cases of human rights violation with 188,013 victims; 18,535 families; 81communities; and 540 households.. The type of violations and the corresponding number of victims are broken down as follows*:

 

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS UNDER ARROYO ADMINISTRATION          
From January 21, 2001 – September 25, 2004            
             
      Victims      
Types of Violation # of Cases Individual Family Household CommunityOrg’n  
Violation of Right to Life            
Killing (summary execution, Assassination, Massacre, Death due to strafing, 231 326        
indiscriminate firing and bombing/shelling/aerial bombardment)            
Frustrated Killing 40 62        
Enforced Disappearance 36 56 1      
Torture 118 188        
Physical Assault or Injuries 153 1,297 1      
Denial of Medical Attention 26 29        
Strafing, indiscriminate firing and bombing/shelling/aerial bombardment 124         14,883 34 1 28  
Violation of Other Rights            
Illegal Arrest (Unlawful, Arbitrary and Unjustified Arrest) 354 1,219 2      
Arbitrary/Unlawful and Unjustified Detention 215 762 1      
Incommunicado 1 2        
Violation of Rights of Arrested or Detained Persons 5 14        
Illegal Search and Seizure 234 6,115 49 120 13  
Unlawful, Unjustified or Arbitrary Subjecting to Checkpoints 2 13        
Coercion (Use of civilians in police/military operations as guide and/or as shield, 265 4,564   2 1 10
forced recruitment/conscription, forced labor/involuntary servitude, forced/fake surrender)            
Threat/Harassment/Intimidation 824 26,374 659 6 21  
Inhumane, Cruel and/or Degrading Treatment or Punishment 2 3        
Forcible Evacuation/Displacement 163 113,215 15,187 340 25  
Hamletting 4 1,236     4  
Forcible Reconcentration 7 896 219      
Demolition 3 200 70      
Food and other Economic Blockades 6 1,337 157      
Restriction or Dispersal of Mass Actions, Public Assemblies, Gatherings 2 130        
Violation of Domicile 75 791 11 134    
Desecration of Place of Worship or Offending Religious Rites/Practices 9 11        
Denial of Decent Burial, Refusal to Tender Remains and Desecration 9 17        
of the Remains            
             
             
      Victims     Mosque.
Types of Violation # of Cases Individual Family Household CommunitySch.,Ofc  
             
Use of Schools, Medical, Religious and Other Public Places for 1 400 1   1  
Military Purposes and Endangerment of Civilians            
Violation Against Property            
Destruction of Properties 115 12,069 716 71 22 3
Divestment of Properties 155 8,975 595 70 13  
Violation of Sectoral or Specific Rights            
Rape or Sexual Abuse/Sexual Harassment 8 8        
Assault/Breaking of Picket Lines 151 5,155        
Violation of Rights of Hors de Combat 1 2        
             
There are 3,339 cases of human rights violation with 188,013 victims; 18,535 families; 81communities; and 540 households.  
compiled by KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights            

 

As of July 2004, there are 248 political detainees all over the country.

 

Like its predecessors, the Arroyo regime committed these violations in its attempts to defeat the CPP-NPA-NDF and MILF, as part of its efforts to defend and promote the interests of foreign monopoly capitalists, the comprador bourgeoisie, and big landlords, and while trying to suppress the mounting opposition to its rule and the ever growing legal democratic movement.

 

Immediately after taking over from the Estrada administration, the Arroyo regime embarked on a desperate attempt to prop up the economy through loans while pursuing the very same imperialist-dictated policies of liberalization, deregulation, and privatization, which led to the crisis.  Around 63% of the current public debt was contracted from 1997 onwards. It aggressively promoted the labor export policy even to the extent of sending OFWs in war-torn Iraq. It also leaned heavily on the AFP and PNP for support in order to stabilize its rule, suppress dissent, and wage war against all its enemies, including the CPP-NPA-NDF, the MILF, and restless elements within the AFP and PNP.

 

The Arroyo regime was so battered by the worsening economic, political, and social crisis confronting the semi-colonial, semi-feudal system that it was forced to announce, in 2002, that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was not running for president in the May 2004 elections.  This worsening crisis provides the context to the human rights situation.  While the so-called “war against terrorism” and the pursuit of a “strong republic” provide the particularity of the human rights situation during the previous three years of the Arroyo regime and which will probably define the situation in the next six years.

 

The War on Terror

 

The Arroyo regime’s war against terrorism is in support of and an imitation of the war on terror being waged by its U.S. imperialist master.

 

U.S. imperialism’s war on terror was conceived in 1990 by ultra-rightists within the administration of George W. Bush, the father of the current U.S. president.  The U.S.SR had just fallen and the Cold War had ended.  Without any challenge to its political and military power, U.S. imperialism sought to assert its hegemony in order to further its interests over its economic competitors.  Richard Haas, a member of the National Security Council and director of policy planning in the U.S. State Department declared that it is necessary for Americans to “reconceive their role from a traditional nation-state to an imperial power”. In 1992, then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney with Paul Wolfowitz, now deputy secretary of defense, and I. Lewis Libby, now Vice-President Cheney’s chief of staff came up with a top-secret blueprint for world domination called the “Defense Policy Guideline” (DPG).  The DPG envisioned a world that is dominated by the unilateral and pre-emptive Use of U.S. military power and the preservation of Pax Americana that will remain unchallenged throughout the 21st century.  The plan was further elaborated with the Project for a New American Century under Bush Jr.’s administration.

 

In order to justify an increase in U.S. military presence around the world after the end of the Cold War, Bush Sr.’s administration came up with its “rogue states” policy.  The succeeding Clinton administration followed this up with its list of “terrorist states” namely, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Cuba, and North Korea.  And Bush Jr. came up with its “axis of evil”.  After the supposed communist threat subsided with the end of the Cold War, U.S. imperialism creatively raised the hype about the threat of Islamic fundamentalism.

 

The plan was being implemented at a time when the world was reeling from a crisis of overproduction.  Until March 2000, the U.S. was able to maximize its politico-military hegemony and its lead in high technology to rise above the crisis affecting Europe and Japan, the two other centers of capitalism.  But in March, 2000, the “new economy” bubble of the U.S. burst and it plunged into a deep recession.  The crisis impelled the U.S. to aggressively pursue its drive for world domination.  The September 2001 attacks provided the pretext for the war on terror.

 

The war on terror is a ploy to justify U.S. wars of aggression that are being launched to:

  • Pump prime the U.S. economy by providing business to the military industrial complex
  • Control the sources of oil and other raw materials as well as the markets for U.S. capital and products
  • Increasing U.S. military presence round the world by a new basing strategy whereby some permanent overseas bases will be replaced or downgraded in favor of small “forward operating bases” in many new locations.  Added to these are the “forward operating locations” or prearranged but unmaintained staging areas which can be occupied quickly by U.S. forces in a conflict situation.  Complementing these are the semi-permanent basing arrangements through continuous. joint military exercises as well as training of surrogate troops.
  • Break all resistance and opposition to imperialist globalization

 

To quote Thomas Barnett, a Professor at the U.S. Naval War College and an advisor to the Defense Department, “If we map out U.S. military responses since the end of the cold war, we find an overwhelming concentration of activity in the regions of the world that are excluded from globalization’s growing Core-namely the Carribean Rim, virtually all of Africa, the Balkans, the Caucasus., Central Asia, the Middle East and Southwest Asia, and much of Southeast Asia.  If a country is losing out to globalization or rejecting much of the content flows associated with its advance, there is a far greater chance that the U.S. will end up sending forces at some point.  Conversely, if a country is largely functioning within globalization, we tend not to have to send our forces there to restore order to eradicate threats…” In sum, it is always possible to fall off this bandwagon called globalization.  And when you do, bloodshed will follow.  If you are lucky, so will American troops.”

 

The Arroyo regime’s war against terrorism is meant to support the objectives of U.S. wars of aggression in exchange for Aid, loans, and a share of the crumbs.  U.S. military aid increased ten-fold in 2001 compared to 2000.  By 2003, the country was the world’s 4th biggest recipient of Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and the world’s 2nd biggest and Asia’s biggest recipient of the International Military Exercise and Training Program (IMET).

 

The 2003 FMF grants were in support of four mobility systems, counter-terrorist modules mainly for three Light Reaction Companies or Light Infantry Battalions, engineering spares and a regional counter-terrorism program.  The IMET fund went to the U.S.-based training of over 160 AFP personnel.  Excess Defense Articles transfers included:  15,000 M16 rifles, 33 ½ -ton trucks, threeUH-1H helicopters, Humanitarian Assistance Program/Excess Property, and a Cyclone Class Ship.  In October 2004, Bush further committed U.S.$ 25 million for army engineering spares, 20 UH-1H refurbished helicopters plus. 10 refurbished airframes for Use as spare parts, and another U.S.$ 10 million in Presidential Draw down Authority from existing  U.S. military inventories.

 

The Strong Republic

 

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo inherited a weak state.  It came to power by virtue of extra legal means, People Power 2, which is beyond the normal processes of administration change.  The economy was plunging deeper into crisis especially after the 1997 Southeast Asian financial crisis.  The economic crisis exacerbated the political crisis that was not resolved with the ouster of Estrada.  In fact, the contradictions within the ruling class further intensified resulting in threats of coup d’ etat, the massive gathering of Estrada forces at Edsa that culminated in the siege of Malacanang, the Oakwood mutiny, and the ATO tower takeover.  Likewise, the legal democratic movement became stronger especially after the ouster of Estrada.  Eventually, the Junk GMA movement slowly gained ground.  The revolutionary movement of the CPP-NPA-NDF was advancing.

 

Instead of reorienting the policies of liberalization, deregulation, and privatization, which plunged the country deeper into crisis, the Arroyo regime fast tracked the implementation of these policies.  It showed its total puppetry to U.S. imperialism by unabashedly supporting the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

 

Thus., it was imperative for the Arroyo regime to “strengthen” the weak state to repress the unrest of the masses who will bear the burden of the deepening economic crisis.  The strong republic was conceived in order to preemptively strike any threat to its rule, suppress dissent, and wage an all-out war against the CPP-NPA-NDF and MILF.

 

The grip of the Arroyo regime to power was further weakened as it had to resort to massive corruption and fraud in order to legitimize its continued stay in Malacanang.  In the end, it failed to secure a fresh mandate and its supposed “victory” further exacerbated the political crisis and created doubts on the credibility of elections as a process.

 

Implications on the Human Rights situation

 

The war on terror and the strong republic had and will have the following effects on the human rights situation:

 

1.   increasing U.S. military presence and intervention

 

In 2000, the Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group and soon after, the Mutual Defense Board was revived.  President Arroyo and U.S. President Bush approved a Joint Defense Assessment (JDA) of the AFP including its recommendations and implementation plan in October 2003.  The JDA identified ten key areas of intervention including the critical security areas of planning, training, doctrines development, and logistics procurement.  Although its projected objective is to reform, enhance, and modernize the AFP, it is a means to more strongly align the AFP with U.S. military doctrines, strategies, techniques, needs, and practices.

 

Aside from the military aid and the IMET, considerable influence is exerted by the U.S. through 13 regular bilateral conferences and training.  There are also the 18 joint military exercises held regularly.

 

A new series of joint training exercises in North Cotabato started last July 26 and ended on  August 14, 2004.  North Cotabato was selected because of the reported presence of the MILF, which is being accused of collaborating with the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).  There are reports coming from KARAPATAN SOCSKSARGEN Region (South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani Provinces in Mindanao) of the presence of US troops in Sarangani province.

 

The closer ties between the U.S. and RP military is laying the basis for direct U.S. military intervention in the Philippines.  The U.S. Special Operation Forces (SOF) are already training the AFP in counter-terrorism campaign planning, intelligence/operations fusion, psychological operations, civil-military operations, and field tactics.  For example, the Force Reconnaissance Companies involved in military operations were trained by U.S. SOF.

 

Another manifestation of increasing U.S. direct intervention in the Philippines is the terror listing by the U.S. and the European Union of the CPP-NPA and of NDFP consultant, Prof. Jose Maria Sison.  This is part of the efforts towards demonizing revolutionary forces, as what was done to Islamic fundamentalist groups, and pressuring them to surrender by blocking all political, financial, and material support that may be given to them.

 

2.   intensifying all-out war against the CPP-NPA-NDF and the MILF

 

Massive military deployment and operations were monitored in Southern Tagalog (39 battalions, most especially Mindoro (9 battalions), Cagayan Valley (5 battalions and 1 brigade), Western Mindanao (10 battalions), Socsargen (10 battalions), Eastern Visayas (9 battalions), Southern Mindanao (3 brigades), North Central Mindanao (3 brigades), Central Luzon (6 battalions), Bohol (4 battalions) and Cebu (2 battalions).  A battalion of Scout Rangers under the command of Col. Noel Buan, former POW, intelligence officer, and one of the key officers responsible for the massive militarization in Mindoro Oriental, was recently deployed in Negros Occidental.

 

While the basic doctrine of Clear, Hold, Consolidate, and Develop and the Triad Operations, which include Intelligence, Operations, and Civilian-Military Operations are being implemented (under the Oplan Makabayan or Operation Plan Nationalist, the regime’s counter-insurgency program), certain adaptations and adjustments in tactics were revealed.  Common among the reports is the employment of Reengineered Special Operations Teams or RSOT, which was deployed under another counter-insurgency plan, Oplan Bantay Laya, in 2003.  Complementing the squad-size RSOT units are platoon size mobile units in contiguous communities as well as numerous small detachments.

 

Parallel to the RSOT operations are combat and security operations employing company to battalion size coordinated operations; establishment of an intelligence network up to the barangay (village) level; and CAFGU/CAA (paramilitary formations called Citizens Armed Force Geographical Units/ Civilian Armed Auxilliary) formations organized through forced conscription and the use of psywar operations and open terror at the grassroots level. Aside from this, AFP units that specialize in counter guerrilla tactics, under the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) such as Scout Rangers, Special Forces of the PA, Force Reconnaissance teams of the PM, SEALS of the PN, serve as standby forces for rapid deployment to various areas.

 

Reinforcing the AFP, PNP, and CAA forces are “rebel returnees”, vigilante groups and para-military groups like the CPLA, the RPA-ABB, and the RHB.

 

These resulted in a long list of documented cases of killings, massacres, forcible abductions and disappearances, forced evacuation and reconcentration, fake surrenders, indiscriminate firing and bombings of communities of peasants and indigenous peoples and suspected guerrilla lairs and strongholds.

 

Karapatan-Southern Tagalog documented the most number of human rights violation cases with a total of 1,268.  The Southern Mindanao Region documented 472 cases; Bicol – 379, Western Mindanao – 374, North Central Mindanao – 267, Cagayan Valley – 185, and the CARAGA region – 147 cases.

 

Meanwhile, captured members of the NPA rendered hors de combat in legitimate clashes between the AFP and NPA forces are maltreated, tortured and eventually killed. These are clear and gross violations of international humanitarian law embodied in international instruments as well as the CARHRIHL signed by the GRP and NDFP in August, 1998.

 

In Mindanao, 33 bombing incidents occurred under the Arroyo administration.  These incidents claimed 95 lives, and caused injuries to 450 others. To date, not one of these bombing incidents had been solved. Aside from these “mysterious bombings, incidents of forcible displacements affecting almost half a million Moros and Christians were caused by military offensives in North Cotabato, Lanao del Norte, Maguindanao, and the Zamboanga Peninsula.  Moro people in NCR were victims of racial profiling, indiscriminate raids, random arrests, torture, and extraction of forced confessions.

 

All regions monitored an increase in troop deployment and military operations, and consequently, an increasing trend in human rights violations.  In Eastern Visayas, four more battalions were added in 2004.  Before 2001, there were only 17 battalions in Southern Tagalog.  The 22 new battalions were added only during the last three years.  Karapatan-Southern Mindanao recorded a 245% increase in the number of human rights violations from 2002-2004 compared to 2001.  In Bohol, the number of recorded cases of human rights violations as of August 2004 had already surpassed the total number of cases recorded during the whole year of 2003.

 

3.   constriction of civil liberties

 

Repressive decrees and jurisprudence passed since the days of Martial Law are still in force.  In fact, some of these are being used currently to justify the suppression of dissent.  The basis for the “no permit, no rally” policy, which is being used to justify the violent dispersal of mobilizations and protest actions can be traced to Batas Pambansa 880 passed during Martial Law.  Violent dispersals of peaceful demonstrations were recorded in Baguio, NCR, Cebu, and Iloilo.

 

General Order # 66 serves as the basis for setting-up checkpoints.  Warrantless arrests are being justified through the Umil vs Ramos Supreme Court decision and other jurisprudence.

 

Worse, repressive bills that were proposed during the Ramos regime but were withdrawn because of protests are being revived.  Among the bills that have been recently refiled in Congress are the Anti-Terrorism Bill and the National Identification System. Likewise, proposals for amending the 1987 Constitution are still pending.  Among the proposed amendments is the reformulation of provisions that protect civil liberties.

 

4.   intensifying exploitation and repression of the basic masses

 

The Cordillera people are struggling against the intensification of mining operations.  Cebu will likewise be subjected to mining operations. The biggest mining corporation operating in the country, the Saggitarius Mining, Inc., formerly Western Mining Corporation, has been mining in an area that straddles four provinces.  In has displaced B’laan communities from their ancestral domain.  In Cagayan Valley, six major projects being implemented by the government with the comprador bourgeoisie and big landlords will encompass 179,000 hectares displacing approximately 635.400 individuals. Two big landlords, Cojuangco and Lorenzo, have plantations covering 30,000 hectares each in Socsargen.

 

Land grabbing cases were reported in Negros Occidental. In Northern Leyte, where most big landlords in the province are concentrated, peasants involved in land struggles are arrested en masse resulting in the most number of political prisoners, 35, in the whole of Eastern Visayas.  Cases of criminalization of agrarian cases were documented in Cebu, Negros Occidental, and North Central Mindanao.  The AFP is positioned in areas where there are CADC (Certificate Of Ancesral Domain Claims), CBFMA (Community-Based Forestry Management Areas), IFMA (Integrated Forestry Management Areas), logging and mining areas.  Bohol is being militarized not only because of the alleged presence of the NPA but also because it is the site of various government projects such as a Palm Oil plantation, regional airport, circumferential project, Bohol Irrigation Project II and the Leyte-Bohol Interconnection project.  While the most militarized areas in Negros Oriental are in Guihulngan because of land struggles.  These point to the trend towards an increase in agrarian and land-grabbing issues especially as land and crop conversion schemes are fast-tracked and agricultural and fisheries modernization programs are intensified.

 

Documented cases of violation of workers rights have increased in the span of three years under GMA. The practice of union busting is prevalent in most companies.  The workers of Nestle have been on strike since Feb 2002.  Legitimate unions at SM, PT&T, LRT, Cosmos Bottling, Meralco, Nestle-Magnolia, Sulpicio Lines, Philippine Rabbit, Bombo Radyo, PNOC, among others were repressed and militant workers terminated and replaced by contractual workers.  Workers from IBM, a federation of unions of the Cojuangco group of companies, are experiencing various forms of harassments such as withholding of union dues.

 

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights documented 91 cases  (involving 1,857 workers) of attacks on picketlines, arrest of union leaders and termination of workers participating in strikes. Violent dispersals of picketlines were also reported in Southern Tagalog and Cebu.

 

Military and local police forces are regularly employed to harass, violently disperse and arbitrary arrest union members.  Arrested workers are charged with common crimes such as assault on persons of authority, robbery, destruction of property, etc.

 

Demolition of urban poor communities were reported in almost all regions with urban centers such as Baguio, the National Capital Region or NCR, Iloilo, and Misamis Oriental, Southern Mindanao Region, and Pagadian City.   Around 600,000 families are expected to be displaced as their houses will be demolished because of the national railway project.

 

5.   further attacks on the legal democratic movement

 

Harassments of NGOs, People’s Orgnizations (PO’s), and other progressive groups and individuals became rampant during the three years of the Arroyo regime.  Four cases of raids of offices and harassments of members of legitimate organizations were reported by the Cordillera region.  Five POs experienced harassments in North Central Mindanao.  KMP and Anakbayan officers and organizers were harassed in Southern Mindanao.  Other cases of harassments were reported in Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, North Central Mindanao, and Caraga region.

 

Cases of campus repression were documented in NCR and Southern Mindanao. Even church people were not spared from harassments and repression.  MSM sisters in an IP community in Socsargen were accused by the military of aiding NPA guerillas and were told to leave the area.   Six journalists were killed in 2004 alone.

 

Worse are the killings of members of legitimate organizations.  Since 2001, 44 members of Bayan Muna, eight members of Anakpawis, and four organizers of Anak ng Bayan were murdered.  Two more organizers of Anak ng Bayan were abducted.  And an officer of Anakpawis in Quezon, Tata Pido, was shot.  Luckily he survived.

 

Fourteen (14) KARAPATAN human rights workers were killed.  The number of human rights workers killed during the Arroyo regime surpassed even during the period of Martial law.  Fewer human rights workers were killed then. It was not even clear whether they were killed or abducted because of their human rights work or their other involvements.  During the Aquino regime, human rights workers were harassed but short of being physically attacked.  One TFDP worker was shot at by a CAFGU member during a fact-finding mission but this was the only case.

Thus, the brutal killing of Eden Marcellana, Karapatan Secretary General for Southern Tagalog in April 2003 followed by the twin killings of an active human rights lawyer, Atty. Juvy Magsino and human rights worker Leima Fortu in Feb 2004 were shocking. These summary executions were even systematically perpetrated by elements under the command of the notorious 204th Infantry Battalion in Mindoro Oriental.

 

6.   increasing number of political prisoners and criminalization of political offenses

 

To date, there are 248 political prisoners in the country.  Among them are minors, mothers with their children, and elderly persons.  One of the most long-standing political detainees is Donato Continente who has served his minimum sentence but could not be released due to the direct intervention of the U.S. State Department. Continente was a suspect in the killing of Colonel James Rowe of the JUSMAG in 1989.  Recently arrested was Ed Serrano, an NDF personality covered by a JASIG or Joint Security and Immunity Guarantee under the NDFP-GRP peace talks.  Serrano was arbitrarily arrested, denied of his right to counsel while being held incommunicado for 10 days, and charged with  five non-bailable criminal offenses.

 

Most of the political prisoners are victims of arbitrary arrest and detention.  Among them are peasants struggling for their right to till their land, political activists, suspected NPA and MILF supporters,  and ordinary Muslim civilians, presented and paraded before the media as fall guys in the government’s campaign against “terrorism”.

 

Criminalization of political offenses or acts and/or agrarian /labor cases is the norm.  Criminal cases like murder, kidnapping, robbery have been filed against the victims and most if not all are detained together with ordinary and hardened criminals. They have suffered under the deplorable conditions of congested and poorly maintained jails, compared to the privileged house detention of former Pres. Joseph Estrada, accused of plunder cases.

 

The declaration of the GRP to release a number of political prisoners as part of the confidence building measure to the peace negotiations between the GRP and NDFP has not been fully implemented.  Only 17 out of the 32 political prisoners promised to set free have been released so far.  Out of the 17 released, only ten (10) were worked out by the government, the rest were released through the merit of their cases.

 

Despite the court’s decision that allows them to post bail, more than 321 members of the AFP who were involved in the Oakwood incident are still detained in various detention centers and camps and denied their right to post bail.  Detained for almost a year now, all they wanted was to voice out their grievances against corruption in the military and denounce the involvement of the military in the series of bombings in Mindanao, as well as the connivance between the AFP and Abu Sayyaf, which resulted to scores of civilian casualties.

 

7.   no justice for victims of human rights violations

 

After 17 long years of struggle and securing a favorable decision in the class suit filed against the Marcos family, the victims of human rights violations under the Marcos fascist dictatorship have yet to receive justice and indemnification.  The Arroyo regime has so far failed to set the mechanism to ensure the compensation process. A bill filed in the 12th Congress that seeks to compensate the victims of martial law  (HB 4535 and Senate Bill 1877) was mangled and diluted to allow the Marcos family to even rebut the claims of their victims.  Thus, the proposed bill was rejected by the victims.  Up to this day, the 9,539 victims of torture, summary execution and disappearances during the martial law period still clamor for justice and indemnification.

 

The Arroyo administration lacks the political will to implement the decisions of the US District Court of Hawaii and the Supreme Court of the Philippines with regard to the compensation of victims of injustice. It also has not complied with its commitment to the peace negotiations with the NDFP that it will facilitate the indemnification of the victims.  Meanwhile, the victims fear that the recovered Marcos’ loot that was transferred to the national treasury in early 2004 may have been spent during the May election campaign period or are dwindling after having been reverted to the national coffers.

 

Under the current dispensation, there can be no justice for victims of human rights violations.  The most that the victims of Martial Law can hope for is to be granted a small compensation for their sufferings.  Although this will be a symbolic indictment of the Marcoses, the victims will not be able to achieve full and genuine justice.

 

Under the fascist US-Arroyo regime, impunity and human rights violations will continue as no perpetrators of violations are punished.  Take the case of notorious human rights violators Jovito Palparan Jr., and Angelo Reyes, who, instead of being punished for the human rights violations they committed, were even promoted to major positions despite pending cases against them.  Another perpetrator, Col. Jonas Sumagaysay Commanding Officer of 78th IB in Northern Cebu, was only relieved from his position and was promoted to the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) in Camp Aguinaldo.  These moves of the Commander-in-Chief send a strong signal to the violators that they have a carte blanche to continue to commit human rights violations under this regime.

 

All factions of the ruling class are united in one thing, exploiting, oppressing, repressing, and attacking the masses.  No regime was able to prosecute and convict its predecessor for fear of being prosecuted by its successor.  Not even Cory Aquino was able to prosecute the Marcoses for assassinating her husband, Ninoy Aquino.

 

Only the masses themselves have the political will and commitment to pursue justice to the end.  In the final analysis, only the masses themselves can and will establish a society where genuine peace, justice, prosperity, equity, freedom, and democracy reigns.       ##

 

 

 

The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip in Nov 13th 2004

 

 

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