Bayan Intise, spokesperson of Pagkakaisa ng mga Biktima para sa Hustisya in Southern Mindanao, an organization of families of victims of political killings and other human rights violations, said both Alcover and Bello “do not have the right to become part of the investigating body since they themselves are instigators of such atrocities.”
By ALEX D. LOPEZ
DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Days before the scheduled visit of the members of House Committee on Human Rights here for the conduct of inquiry on human rights violations in Mindanao, militant groups went out to the streets to protest the presence of committee members Jun Alcover of the Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (Anad) Partylist and Walden Bello of Akbayan who will join the committee members to hear human rights cases.
Among the committee members expected to be in Davao City for a two-day inquiry are Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares, Representative Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis, Representative Luz Ilagan of Gabriela, Alliance of Concerned Teachers Partylist Representative Antonio Tinio and Kabataan Partylist Representative Mong Palatino. They will hear stories of violations from victims and their relatives at the Mindanao Training and Resource Center.
Alcover, on the other hand, is said to focus its inquiry into the killing North Cotabato businessman Patrick Winneger who was gunned down by the New People’s Army (NPA) early this year. The NPA implicated Winneger in the killing of Italian missionary Father Fausto Tentorio.
Bayan Intise, spokesperson of Pagkakaisa ng mga Biktima para sa Hustisya (Hustisya) in Southern Mindanao, an organization of families of victims of political killings and other human rights violations, said both Alcover and Bello “do not have the right to become part of the investigating body since they themselves are instigators of such atrocities.”
Intise said both “have persistently vilified members of progressive groups as fronts of Communist organizations,” endangering the lives of members of groups who are just organizing themselves to defend the interest of the marginalized sectors.
Intise said such act of vilification has been the pattern in the killings of political activists under former President Gloria Arroyo’s nine year rule which reached 1,206 victims.
Most of the victims are peasant organizers, trade union activists, environmental crusaders, the urban poor and indigenous peoples’ rights defenders, as well as progressive partylists leaders and members. Victims in Southern Mindanao Region alone have reached 106 in that period.
The pattern of victimization of activists, Intise said, have continued under the present administration of Benigno Aquino III where the number of political killings have reached 114, while the victims of frustrated killings of activists have already numbered to 147.
Not welcome in Davao City
Intise said even Alcover was declared a “persona non grata” in Davao City by members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (Davao City Council) in 2010 after issuing public statements that vilified then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as “coddler of NPAs.”
Together with Retired Army Major Jovito Palparan who is now declared wanted for the abduction and deaths of University of Philippines student activists Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, Alcover was scored by the Davao City Council for issuing statements that “smeared” the reputation of the city following their public declaration referring to Davao City as “breeding ground of NPAs.”
It will be recalled that the two burned a tarpaulin of Duterte whose image was place side by side with that of NPA leader Leoncio Pitao, also known as “Ka Parago,” in Malabog, a village in this city’s Paquibato District.
Through the said City Council 02920-10 series of 2010 resolution, both Alcover and Palparan were considered “unacceptable or unwelcome persons” in Davao City.
Juland Suazo, spokesperson of environmental group Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao also shared Intise’s concern on red-baiting saying that it “has worsened the impunity with which the violations of human rights are committed among those legitimate groups and organizations who truly work for the people.”
Suazo said Alcover and Bello are the same as both continue to hurl political vilification, red-baiting and labeling of activists and progressive peoples’ organizations.
Also, Tuesday’s mass action was a call to end impunity, added Suazo, given that “15 out of the 19 environmentalists killed in the Philippines under the present administration come from Mindanao,” the latest of this was the brutal murder of the family of Blaan anti-mining leader Daguil Capion in Tampakan, South Cotabato.
The upcoming House inquiry, he said, will serve as an arena to expose cases of human rights violations and call on the government to act on such cases since the perpetrators come from its rank, the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Meanwhile, Sheena Duazo, the spokesperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Southern Mindanao lambasted the Aquino government for obscuring the state of human rights violations in the country, instead of taking concrete actions to solve the cases.
Duazo was referring to a recent statement made by the President in one of his recent trips abroad dismissing reports on human rights violations as only part of leftist propaganda.
Tony Salubre of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in Southern Mindanao said Aquino’s policies are but a continuation of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s blatant disregard of the human rights of struggling people saying that organized peasants like him, are still targets of persecutions by state security agents, especially in the countryside.
“Padayon ang paggukod sa mga mag-uuma, padayon ang military operations sa kabanikanhan pinaagi sa Oplan Bayanihan (The persecution of the farmer continues through the military operations conducted in the countryside as part of the Oplan Bayanihan),” Salubre said, referring to the current counter-insurgency measure of the Aquino administration, Oplan Bayanihan. (Alex D. Lopez/davaotoday.com)