UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston and the regime-appointed Melo Commission have confirmed what many already believed — that the military was behind the spate of political killings. Former Major General Jovito Palparan was named accountable, the same guy Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has absolved, praised and even promoted.
UN’s Philip Alston will raise the issues and cases against human rights to the attention of the international community. He will also ask the International Peoples Tribunal in The Netherlands to look into what is regarded as a political bloodbath happening here.
According to the Melo Commission, Arroyo may be held accountable under international law for the political killings. "Ultimately, the State has the responsibility of protecting its citizens and making sure that their fundamental liberties are respected," the Melo Report said. Now, Arroyo is threatening to be listed in the gallery where one can find Slobodan Milosevic, Idi Amin, Pol Pot et al.
Since martial law, 87 journalists have been killed and 50 of these were recorded during the reign of Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. This distinctive feat dwarfs the combined body count of journalists who were killed under the regimes of Marcos, Cory Aquino, Ramos and Estrada combined.
Human rights group Karapatan claims that more than 800 people have been victims of political killings since Madame Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took office in 2001. Karapa-tan blames the military and police forces as responsible for these killings. Over 365 of these victims were reportedly left-wing activists and over 200 were said to be abducted and remain missing.
Another international organization, Public Services International (PSI), noted that the biggest number of summary executions in the region could be found in the Philippines. The PSI is a global group of public service unions with 20 million members in more than 150 countries. In its statement, the PSI identified at least 80 out of the 800 victims of extrajudicial killings reported in the country last year who were members of trade unions.
PSI General Secretary Hans Engelberts lamented that "It is already outrageous that so many people are being killed, but it is more outrageous that the government is not bringing these people (killers) to justice."
Engelberts promised to press their own governments and foreign lending institutions to exert pressure on the Philippine government, including the World Bank. PSI believes that these ‘senseless deaths are also killing democracy, which is vital to sustainable economic growth."
Nick Sigler, international relations secretary of Unison, the biggest trade union in Great Britain had this to say about the Philippine killings: "This level of killings and violations of human rights are unacceptable."
According to the latest survey of the Hong Kong-based research firm Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC), Philippine stability is the third least in Asia, even beating Thailand which is under military rule and where bombs have been detonating.
Quoting reports from our own Commission on Human Rights, the US State Department named the Philippine National Police (PNP) as the "worst abuser of human rights."
The Philippines is among 196 countries whose human rights practices are reviewed in the US State Department reports. Identified by PCIJ in the State Department Report were the following human rights violations:
• arbitrary, unlawful, and extrajudicial killings by elements of the security services; and political killings, including killings of journalists, by a variety of actors, which often go unpunished
• physical and psychological abuse of suspects and detainees and instances of torture
• arbitrary arrest and detention
• police, prosecutorial, and judicial corruption
• long delays in trials
• harsh prison conditions
• societal discrimination against Muslims
• harassment of some human rights and left-wing political activists by local military and police forces
• violence against women and abuse of children, as well as child prostitution, and trafficking in persons
• child labor, including underage domestic servants
• ineffective implementation and enforcement of worker rights
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is bringing the country to new highs — the kind that pulls us miserably lower. We’ve already managed to make it to the top listing in the world’s most corrupt, now we are also slowly establishing ourselves among the regimes that kill their own citizens.
How can Arroyo not be the issue of the May 14 elections? It is bad enough that her legitimacy is doubted by majority of the people. Now, she has made us look like the biggest crooks and bloodthirsty killers in the region.
Who can talk about economic gains with a national situation like this? How can we delude ourselves to have a future with state policies that promote more corruption and human rights abuses?
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo once delivered the "Boom tarat tarat" ditty during a campaign sortie. It is fitting for her to do so because it spoofs the sound of gunfire discharged by the Philippine death squads.