A Bloody Red Carpet for UN Rapporteur

Feb. 22, 2007

COTABATO CITY — What a bloody red carpet our government had given to Professor Philip Alston! Not only was the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings criticized by the head of the Senate Committee on Justice, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, for his comment on the dismal human-rights situation in the Philippines — a trail of blood followed Alston in his visit to the country.

Before Alston arrived in Manila, Dalmacio “Tatay Daki” Galdinao was shot in his home in Salay town, Misamis Oriental. Tatay Daki was the head of the Kilusang Magbubukid in that province. While Alston was consulting with the victims of political killings in Manila, Farly Alcantara of the League of Filipino Students in Camarines Norte was also shot dead by motorcycle riding men.

Last week, while all of us Mindanaoans gathered in Davao City to meet Alston as well as victims and relatives of those slain activists and journalists, a newspaper editor from my home province in Shariff Kabungsuan was murdered. Hernani Pastolero, 64, editor of the weekly paper Lightning Courier, was shot dead in front of his house.

These incidents only show the true situation of human rights in the country. Ever since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo began calling the victims and our organizations as “communist fronts,” this has become a blanket authority for anyone to kill all the critics of the government.

I am most elated when Karapatan secretary-general Marie Hilao-Enriquez invited me to join Karapatan’s consultation with Alston. I was afraid that because Alston was scheduled to meet the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front, there was no room for him to hear about situation of human rights in the Moro communities and the Moro victims of extrajudicial killings.

As it turned out, when I tried to brief Alston about the situation of the Moro people in ight of Arroyo’s militarist policy in dealing with her conflict with the Moro people — such as her “state of lawlessness and lawless violence” and the “hand of steel” against terrorists — Alston told me that he had been briefed about the situation by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and from his talks with the MNLF and MILF.

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