November 13, 2007
STATEMENT on the Batasan Bombing
By design or neglect, Batasan bombing a smokescreen for scandal-ridden Arroyo government
InPeace Mindanao condemns yesterday’s bombing of the Philippine Congress, which resulted to the injury of Gabriela Partylist Representative Luzviminda C. Ilagan, a woman activist and advocate of Mindanao issues.
We also express grief and condolences to the family of Marcial Taldo, Ilagan’s driver, and a Mindanaoan from Davao City, who was among the fatalities.
Our condolences as well to the family of Basilan Representative Wahab Akbar, who was killed in that incident.
The gravity of this attack against Mindanao representatives and their staff and other civilians demands that those responsible for this attack be brought to justice.
However, we could not yet agree to another seemingly rushed police angle that the motive of the bombing is to assassinate Rep. Akbar.
As evidenced by our own citizen-led investigations of the Mindanao bombings in 2003-04, where the military is suspected of staging bombings to justify the war in Mindanao, we and a growing segment of the public can not shake off from our minds the probability that the state is culpable for this bombing.
We strongly believe that by design or by neglect, the bombing this time is meant to diffuse and divert public outrage over the corrupt and scandal-ridden Arroyo government.
Time and again, the bombing scenario is created to sow fear and divert attention from this government which suffers from a crisis of credibility. The Glorietta explosion, the latest in these string of incidents, diverted media from the daily coverage of the ZTE broadband deal. These bombings have conditioned the public to be on their toes for terrorist attacks and weaken their vigilance against government corruption.
The timing of the Batasan bombing comes at a crucial moment when the House of Representatives is deliberating on the impeachment complaint against Arroyo.
It also occured amidst public outrage over the series of tragedies and scandals in the country such as the broadband scandal, the pay-off of government officials, and the recent suicide of 12-year old Marianette Amper which many believe is due to government’s ineptitude in comprehensively addressing the problem of poverty and hunger in the country.
We caution the Arroyo government from using these bombings to justify the proclamation of a state of national emergency or martial rule, the flexing of the vicious Human Security Act, or providing excuse for US military intervention to hunt “terrorist groups” in the country. These and other Draconian measures will
further serve Arroyo’s intention to create a situation where the public will be placed in constant state of fear and government critics are silenced.
Whatever scenario that the government and its armed forces want to depict in this situation, the public will look beyond it all, and will see a regime that has, by design or by neglect, treated people’s lives as collateral damage.#
ATTY. BEVERLY SELIM-MUSNI
Coordinator, Peacebuilding and Human Rights Program