An effigy of Benigno Aquino III riding a military tank cum backhoe was burned to ashes on December 10 in Mendiola, Manila by thousands of rallyists who had gathered to commemorate International Human Rights Day. Most of the demonstrators came from Mindanao, Southern Tagalog and the National Capital Region.
KARAPATAN led the rallyists in setting fire to the seven-foot tall effigy that symbolized the twin evils wrought by militarization and large-scale mining on the lives of peasants and national minorities.
KARAPATAN blasted Aquino not only for reneging on his promise to give justice to the victims of human rights violations, but for tolerating human rights abuses. The latest example was his promotion of military officers involved in human rights violations.
Aside from Brig. Gen. Eduardo Año (newly appointed ISAFP chief) who was involved in the abduction of Jonas Burgos in 2007, Aquino likewise promoted Brig. Gen. Aurelio Baladad and Maj. Gen. Jorge Segovia, who were both responsible for the illegal arrest and detention of the “Morong 43.” Baladad is the new AFP deputy chief of staff for operations and Segovia is the new AFP Eastern Mindanao Command chief.
KARAPATAN also cited Executive Order 79 issued by Aquino which served as a go-signal to the Philippine Army, CAFGU and other paramilitary units to suppress people opposed to mining. Aquino has not only given his allout support to large-scale destructive mining, he has turned a blind eye to the extrajudicial killings and evictions of national minorities perpetrated by big mining companies like Toronto Ventures Inc., Xstrata-Sagittarius Mines Inc. and Philco in Mindanao.
Three days before the commemoration of the 64th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, three more names were added to the list of victims of extrajudicial killings.
At around 12:00 noon of December 7, troops from the 53rd IB shot to death Roland Quijano, a farmer and active member of the Alliance of Farmers in Zamboanga del Sur-Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in Purok 4, Ocapan, San Miguel town. The 53rd IB has long been maintaining a detachment in the village.
On the same day, at around 6:00 p.m., Cheryl Ananayo and her cousin Randy Nabayay were gunned down in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya. Ananayo was targeted even if she was carrying her baby and had her other child in tow. She was a member of the Didipio Earthsavers Multipurpose Association, which is actively opposed to Oceana Copper-Gold Corporation operations.
Aside from the protest actions launched by human rights advocates and their supporters, political detainees like Ericson Acosta at the Calbayog Subprovincial Jail and the “Batangas 7” held simultaneous poetry reading sessions in their jail cells as a form of protest. Among the other detainees who also read poems in their prison cells were 14 peace talks consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) like Alan Jazmines, Eduardo Serrano, Eduardo Sarmiento, Tirso “Ka Bart” Alcantara, Reynante Gamara and Ramon Patriarca.
Previously, the country’s more than 400 political detainees also staged a weeklong hunger strike. (See related article.)