Editorial, ANG BAYAN, 7 December 2012

The brutality behind the gimmickry

December 10, 2012

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Two weeks before marking International Human Rights Day, Benigno Aquino III unleashed a new round of gimmickry when he formed on November 27 an inter-agency committee (IAC) that would allegedly look into cases of extrajudicial killings, abductions, torture and other forms of human rights violations, particularly those committed by the previous regime.

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The formation of this superbody is a desperate attempt by the Aquino regime to cover up its accountability for worsening violations of human rights throughout the country. Aquino is using it to shore up his credibility with regard to human rights in the face of widespread abuses and brutalities perpetrated by armed state agents.

Because the IAC includes the AFP and PNP chiefs, it will come to no other conclusion than the exoneration of military and police officials involved in human rights violations. It is no different from the Arroyo regime’s Task Force on Political Violations that was formed in 2007, at the height of human rights abuses.

Days before this, Aquino also boasted of having signed the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration during a meeting of the region’s leaders in Cambodia last November. This document is a means by which its repressive signatories could portray themselves as human rights advocates.

Contrary to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, however, this ASEAN document places human rights at a lower rung compared to “national security” and other governmental considerations. It is this same justification that has always been invoked by both the current and previous regimes for committing human rights violations.

Hidden behind Aquino’s gimmickry, attacks on the people by his armed agents have continuously worsened and become increasingly brutal. Not a single perpetrator of human rights violations has been convicted under the Aquino regime. In fact, it has failed to capture and imprison Gen. Jovito Palparan, the butcher general responsible for grave human rights violations under the Arroyo regime.

The list of human rights abuses grows even longer as armed agents of the state defend the interests of foreign corporations and their local comprador bourgeois and landlord partners.

The Aquino regime’s brutal fascist campaign against the people is further intensifying as the deadline of the counterrevolutionary Oplan Bayanihan (OPB) nears. OPB is slated to end next year, but it is clearly far from achieving its objective of defeating the armed and democratic struggles of the masses.

The highlights of Aquino’s third year in office include the killing of mass leaders like Genesis Ambason and Ely Oguis, who were both subjected to severe torture. Oguis’ case is particularly heinous, as he was decapitated. Another thing to be underscored is the use of the AFP by the state and its big foreign corporate co-conspirators to quell the people’s resistance. Stark examples include the killing of Lumad leaders opposed to foreign mining and the merciless massacre by AFP forces of the Capion family in October.

Aquino’s recent appointment of Brig. Gen. Eduardo Año as chief of the Intelligence Service of the AFP has been met with widespread protest. Año is one of 45 respondents in the preliminary investigation of the forced disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos in 2007. He was also responsible for the illegal arrest of Tirso “Ka Bart” Alcantara in 2011 and the grave human rights violations in South Quezon-Bondoc Peninsula this year.

According to KARAPATAN’s records, there were 129 victims of extrajudicial killing and 12 victims of forced disappearance from July 2010 to October 2012. In Mindanao, there were 37 victims of extrajudicial killing, among them 24 Lumad leaders opposed to large-scale mining and logging. Fifteen mothers and girl-children were killed by the regime under Oplan Bayanihan, 12 of them this year.

Up to 467 were illegally arrested, most of them peasants and minorities accosted by military forces operating in upland and forested areas. Those captured were branded as members or supporters of the New People’s Army. (See table for complete list)

There are 401 political prisoners throughout the country, with 123 of them arrested and incarcerated under the Aquino regime.

Human rights violations have also been rampant with Aquino’s drive to implement his economic program. Violent demolitions of urban poor communities have been undertaken to clear valuable real estate for Public-Private Partnership projects funded by foreign big companies. Workers’ right to form unions and to strike are brazenly suppressed. Aquino has also threatened press freedom by pushing the Cybercrime Act.

The regime has been rampantly violating agreements signed by the state and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, especially with regard to guaranteeing the human rights and security of NDFP negotiators and consultants. This has made it difficult for the peace negotiations to continue.