EU urged: Stop aid to Philippines

Jun. 25, 2007

MANILA — While the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) welcomes the European Union’s (EU) 10-day mission to the Philippines, it also warns the EU against simply acceding to the Arroyo government’s request for so-called technical assistance to put a stop to extrajudicial killings in the country.

A team of six experts from the EU will start its mission on June 18. Ambassador Alistair MacDonald, EU’s top diplomat to the Philippines, said the EU Needs Assessment Mission comes in response to an official request by the Philippine government for technical assistance in areas such as the establishment of special courts and the training of judges and special prosecutors.

Dr. Carol Araullo, Bayan chairperson, said, “We thank the EU for its many public and official expressions of serious concern regarding the human rights situation in the Philippines. We are hopeful that the EU experts will look beyond the Arroyo government’s pronouncements regarding extrajudicial killings.”

Araullo described the government’s request for technical assistance as both hypocritical and pernicious. “In the first place, the spate of killings is part and parcel of the Arroyo regime’s intensified counter-insurgency program. The Arroyo government is not sincere about resolving this issue because it quietly condones, if not masterminds, the killing of activists and their alleged supporters as well as members of independent media organizations.”

Araullo said that no amount of training of judges and prosecutors will be sufficient to stop the killings. “If she chooses to — only Arroyo — as Commander-in-Chief of the AFP, can put a stop to this carnage by calling the military and police top brass to account,” she said.

Araullo noted how the courts are being used to violate the rights of progressive leaders critical of the Arroyo administration. She cited the rebellion charges filed against the six “leftist” or progressive party-list representatives. “If the Arroyo government will train more Raul Gonzalezes, justice will remain elusive and repressive practices, more entrenched.”

The Bayan leader called on the countries of the European Union to immediately stop their military aid to the Arroyo government because the Armed Forces of the Philippines has repeatedly been implicated in the extrajudicial killings by families of the victims, the government’s own Melo Commission, UN special rapporteurs, Amnesty International and scores of international fact finding missions.

“We appeal to the EU to desist from channeling military assistance through the authoritarian regime of Mrs. Arroyo.” Instead, the group proposed that humanitarian and other aid be channeled through international aid agencies, church charitable institutions/faith-based service organizations and other independent, non-government, non-profit organizations and institutions.”

Araullo said that credible institutions may, with the help of EU, set up and maintain a center that will serve as a refuge for survivors and witnesses of human rights violations. She said that political support from the EU may shield the center from any from of harassment from state agents.

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