Unite and Rage Against Political Repression!

Sep. 02, 2006

We should raise a deafening howl, as a people, as a nation with a collective strength no dictator in the past or present can thwart, not just to condemn the killings and disappearances, not just to lament this political persecution that is so unlike what we have seen in recent history, but to bring brain, limb and muscles to punish, with this very might, not just the killers but, more so, the obvious lot that directs and emboldens the brutes to rampage with impunity.

By Alvin Luque
Nominee, Bayan Muna Party-list

DAVAO CITY — The killings, the bloodbath that has claimed the lives of hundreds whose only fault lie, defenseless, in the search for truth and justice, have to stop; the massacre of activist leaders, journalists, priests, lawyers and other professionals must cease in the name of truth, justice and humanity!

This is the cry of the people today yes, the cry of Filipinos whose lives under this government have become so cheap, so disposable, that it does not matter anymore whether a single bullet enters the head of a suspected terrorist, destabilizer, or communist, or a dozen that render the body immobile, as long as that person, the target, is dead and, that which seems to be more important for the perpetrators of these dastardly crimes, is unable to speak the truth.

Despite the appalling number of victims, however, which the Karapatan places at 727 killed and countless others disappeared, despite credible international reports that point to the state, apparently, as the culprit such as the one released by the Amnesty International that underscored a steep increase in the incidence of extra-judicial killings this year with 51 cases only in the first semester and outrightly called these incidents as a source of embarrassment for the state, despite the unending cry of the bereaved and the trail of blood across the nation, many among us Filipinos, a people hailed by the international community as a people truly united in the fight against inhumanity in its many abhorrent manifestations which we displayed proudly when crushing the 14-year Marcos dictatorship, still remain somehow unperturbed by these stark incidents of sheer barbarity, as if nothing has happened, as if no innocent blood has been spilt.

We should raise a deafening howl, as a people, as a nation with a collective strength no dictator in the past or present can thwart, not just to condemn the killings and disappearances, not just to lament this political persecution that is so unlike what we have seen in recent history, but to bring brain, limb and muscles to punish, with this very might, not just the killers but, more so, the obvious lot that directs and emboldens the brutes to rampage with impunity. The lot of them that is made up of such characters whose war, not the peoples, is brazen, to say the least: men like M/Gen. Jovito Palparan, Lt./Gen. Generoso Senga, Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, Col. Eduardo del Rosario (of the Task Force Davao based in Davao City), Sec. Eduardo Ermita, Sec. Norberto Gonzales, Sec. Raul Gonzalez, Presidential chief-of-staff Michael Defensor, among others with similar notoriety, who loyally serve their commander-in-chief, the mastermind of it all, Ms Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

There is reason for us to be angered with headlines that blare: 3 ASSASSINATIONS IN A DAY (PDI, Aug. 21, 2006), or, with regional news that scream: ACTIVIST-PASTOR SHOT DEAD IN ALBAY (PDI, Aug. 6, 2006) or ANOTHER ACTIVIST SHOT DEAD IN FRONT OF HIS 3 SONS (PDI, Jul. 28, 2006); there is not a few of these stories that paint broadsheets, almost on a daily basis, blood red. These incidents, the first one which had two militant leaders (Kalinga Bayan Muna coordinator Alice Omengan-Claver, LFS Provincial spokesperson) and a photo-journalist (Tanod lensman Prudencio Melendres) and the second, which had a United Methodist pastor (Pastor Isias Sta. Rosa of Albay) and a farmer (Ernesto Ladica of Misamis Oriental) killed by motorcycle-riding hooded assassins, happened shortly after Mrs. Arroyos much-vaunted state of the nation address (Sona) where she condemned the spate of political killings, yet, richly washed with irony, bathed with praise her most loyal, most effective guard dog and killing machine, M/Gen. Jovito Palparan, which sent her audience, all of whom were only too eager to do it anyway, into rapturous applause. The applause, obviously, was really meant for Palparan, for her beloved butcher more than for Mrs. Arroyos condemnationof the killings; she was only paying lip-service, no less.

There is reason, so much more reason, for us to be angered with the governments and its security forces utter lack of recognition for human rights and for humanity itself, in the sense that while Malcanang showed us concern, which for many appears tokenistic, by forming a task force (Task Force Usig) to investigate the incidents of political killings, and, of late, a purportedly independent body with purportedly extensive powers, to be led by former Justice of the Supreme Court, and eventually show that indeed justice in this country works, the assassinations still occur unabated, surpassing that of Marcos political repression record, and with impunity.

Inspite of these tokens, the state, its security forces and the killers cannot by its money, by any investigative entity formed, by any incantation, appease rage borne from a long period of bloodshed, a long period of the massacre of the innocent, a bloody long time when 700 lives snuffed-out since Mrs. Arroyo took over the reigns in Malacanang, and simply make us believe, or, to be more exact, make us wonder at the illusion, that they are, in fact, doing something to stop it and actually make justice work for both the victims and the bereaved, straining to make fools of us all.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), which, as far as efficacy is concerned, is pretty much a useless forum for the defense and promotion of human rights, may have proven, finally, its use when one of its commissioners was quoted as saying: Despite the formation by the PNP of Task Force Usig to look into the killing of militants and journalists and to bring those behind them to justice, the killings go on and no killers have been brought to justice. An even stronger point was delivered when Ms Purificacion Quisumbing, CHR head, said in late May that: the government was responsible for the killings of activists whether or not its forces were behind the assassinations. By any measure, however, the Arroyo regime would have none of these, insisting that the state is innocent, and that, it too, denounced the killings.

Governments claim of innocence is far, so far, from the truth because, notwithstanding the statements made by CHR, the truth is but drowned in the sea of sharks where the sharks, known as the brazen lot earlier mentioned, despite warnings, criticisms and pressure from local and international human rights advocates, groups and governments, the lets win the war against communists in 2 years chorus remains their favorite mantra, and, will stop at nothing until the last communist is sent to the grave, including, of course, those whom they regard as the communist who may be walking and talking without the arms, but, a walking and talking, and potentially dangerous, communist nonetheless. It is no mystery then why activists and journalists, whose weapons are a brave mind that dinstinguishes right fromwrong and a much braver heart that know how to fight against injustice when he or she sees it, are being slaughtered.

Mrs. Arroyo said she condemned the killings, but lets hear it from Gen. Palparan, who for obvious reasons deserve the title the butcher, when he, in asserting that the anti-subversion law be reinstituted and that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) be outlawed again for reason that such freedom allows it access to legal politics, said that, Theyre legal but they are doing illegal activitiesthey have to draw the demarcation line of who they really are or its better for them to go back to the hills, deducing, in this sense, that communists disguised as legal personalities have penetrated government, or any legal arena for that matter, and, without a recognizable tag of demarcation, are in fact communists, no different from the ones who thrive in the hills.

Following this twisted logic, therefore, they are, in fact (fact that is conjured by the blood-drenched mind of Palparan) legitimate targets of the states all-out war the logic used by hooded assassins who most willingly pumped bullets into the lawyer who was critical of the Arroyo government (and thus, a communist), into the judge who castigated the illegal deals of the government (and thus, a communist), into the religious pastor who spoke to his flock about the truth (and thus, a comunist), into the student leader because he bewailed the loss of the peoples right to quality education (and thus, a communist) and into the ordinary Filipino who found out that his poverty was because of the exploitation of the few (and thus, a communist, and, quite possibly, a potential recruit for the New Peoples Army).

The demarcation Mrs. Arroyo and Palparan require single-handedly blurs the difference between the innocent and the guilty because, for them, one is often guilty before proven innocent, one is always a communist first until stripped of his rights, stripped of his human dignity, and show loyalty to the state by way of fear, one is guilty until he is silenced forever.

Mrs. Arroyo may have condemned the killings, but this logic makes anyone and everyone who does not think that the Philippines is a haven of opportunity and a cradle of wealth for him and his family, virtually, a target.

This is precisely the logic used by Palparans soldiers who hounded and prowled Nueva Ecija recently, looking for communist insurgents to flush and swat, when that logic ruling the gun-powdered brains of the so-called defenders of the people made a government employee in his 30s walk home only in his underwear, a punishment for failing to present a cedula (residence certificate) at a military checkpoint, made a vegetable vendor, whose resident certificate was dated 2005, and a barangay official, who thought his title and stature would spare him from being punished, were forced to eat their cedulas. A female beggar was not spared by the brutes when one of the soldiers hit her in the face, apparently irked when the former asked why she needed a cedula. (PDI news item, Aug. 14, 2006, p.A2) Now, all hell broke loose as hundreds go on a mad scramble for cedulas in Nueva Ecija, and where else, pray tell? Thats Palparan for you: his lecture on logic is another mans lesson in fascism.

Mrs. Arroyo said she condmened the killings, but savor another lesson in logic by the all-too philosphic Sec. Raul Gonzalez when he said with all candor: The loss of civilian lives is unavoidable in an all-out war against communist insurgentsyou cant avoid collateral damage. Reassuringly, he went on to say: Sometimes there are bombings and civilians might get hurt. (PDI, Jun. 19, 2006) Here is a Department of Justice secretary for you who is oozing and brimming with militarism, a classic walking, talking, half-breathing oxymoron, with more parts injustice than justice, for obvious reasons.

This logic encourages governments security forces, the military and the police foremeost, to proceed with a war of annihilation that disregards completely the very rights and lives of non-combatants, of the helpless and hapless masses caught in the middle of the theatre of conflict, all in the name of achieving major objectives, of subduing major targets, of satiating orders, no matter how perverse, no matter how unjust, of the commander-in-chief.

Thus, under Sec. Gonzales logic, throw away the Bill of Rights, rip to shreds the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and the Humanitarian Law, forget about every peace or human rights treaty signed by the Philippines since the second world war; for, indeed, asserting ones right to live, to speak, to be free under a government which treats you like cannon fodder, a government which takes your exitence lighter than a feather, is a recitation of ones eulogy before actually dying. In this country, under this government, to die is a question of right for the seekers of truth and justice, to live is the privilege of anyone who has the heart to applaud the Arroyo regimes repression.

Let, however, someone serving this government, a top police official no less who demanded anonimity, rebut Gonzales buffoonery, stab some sense into his senselessness, when that official so said that: Government forces may succeed in killing every last rebel in the country but the insurgency will not go away that easilyyou can kill the insurgents, but you cannot kill the insurgency. Mrs. Arroyo may have set and expanded the theatre of war that will somehow assure her that her troops all over the archipelago can achieve victory in the shortest possible time of 2 years by defeating a 38-year revolution, she may have trained the guns at every dissenter, man, woman, child, wiping each and everyone from the face of this earth so that she can reign sans the presence of those who fight against her illigitamacy, her fascism, but not by any means possible can she extinguish the peoples struggle to rid itself of dictators, oppressors, corruptors and militarists; as sure as this regime to show the fangs of repression aimed striking fear at the hearts of the peple, its downfall, its defeat, has been signed and sealed.

Political assassinations, not the Constitution, not any law or statute, is the rule that reign supreme under Mrs. Arroyo; fear that is induced by sheer militarism and wanton violence is the source of power of the state. The certainty of delivering instant death to the enemies of the state, whether armed or not, is the only guarantee available that will assure it of its continued existence; the certainty that it can kill and that it can get away with it without punishment will reward this government with control over the people. This suspasses Martial Law; this is pure, unadulterated Macchiavelian autocracy where democracy is but a decorative, a fake.

There is an abundance of proof that Mrs. Arroyo and her militarist minions will not let go of this power, power that is for them absolute, corrupting them absolutely, power purchased by means of cheating, deception and murderous mayhem. This power that they are now drowned in has virtually closed the doors and windows for democracy, zapped the space from democratic space (or whats left of it); democracy now, as in the past, remains the prvilege of the few. Neither change in the Charter nor change in the names of the rulers can resucitate democracy, nor can it stop the massacre; even with the change in charter or change in name, political assassinations will not stop; it will, in fact, intensify. And, nobody among us is safe is from the this rampage.

In the name of justice, truth and humanity, let us be angered by this display of sheer savagery, by this bloodbath, that empowers the state to rule more barbarically with an iron fist. Let us not succumb fully to the numbing of our senses and sensibilites as to say that these extra-judicial killings are but normal under the circustances, a normal occurrence. No, we cannot allow ourselves fall victim to a self-induced form of apathy and inaction; we cannot allow ourselves to sit idly by while blood, the blood of those who defend truth, justice and democracy, is spilt on the streets.

The only way therefore to stop all these senseless violence is for us, the people, that one power that can topple dictators, in our collective might, to rain down upon this government, to take that power that we have given it and make it ours once again, to serve our aspirations and dreams, our purpose, to make us live, live longer, live as humanly as possible and not to subject us to fear and murder. It is but our fundamental right to get involved and express our condemnation against these killings, but more than that, it is now the greatest human right in this part of our history to raise a howl, be outraged, and transform that very rage into political power, a punishing power, that shall run after the culprits, make them pay, take them to the bar of peoples justice and let democracy, the peoples struggle for a better society, prevail.

Put an end to political killings!

Bring the culprits and the masterminds to justice!

Oust the US-Arroyo regime!

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