The report of United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston on the culpability of the military in the spate of political killings, and the formation of the anti-fraud group Kontra-Daya addressed two critical issues confronting the Arroyo government: its crisis of legitimacy and charges of electoral fraud; and the gross violations of human rights especially the abhorrent crimes of political killings and forced disappearances.
BY BENJIE OLIVEROS
On February 21 United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killing, summary or arbitrary executions, Prof. Philip Alston, came out with a press statement on his preliminary report. He said the number of killings of leftist activists and journalists is “distressing”; and that the theory that the killings were the result of a purge within the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army being “relentlessly pushed” by the military and government officials were “especially unconvincing”.
Professor Alston likened the military to “an alcoholic who denies being addicted to alcohol.”
After his ten-day visit to investigate recent political killings and related other violations of human rights in the Philippines, Alston came up with the same conclusion offered by human rights groups and militant organizations: That the political killings were the handiwork of the military. Although he came short of declaring that the political killings were a state policy, he called for a review of the government’s counterinsurgency strategy.
Alston will submit his full report to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the Philippine government. Nothing may come out of it as the UN does not have the power to sanction or force a government to do something, unless of course the government in question is considered by the U.S. as an “enemy”, which President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is definitely not with all the concessions she has given the U.S. including the custody of the convicted rapist, U.S. Navy Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith; nor will the Arroyo administration voluntarily put a stop to the killings.
The significance of the Alston report is that it adds more international pressure to bear on the Arroyo administration. It also negated the “purge” theory which the government uses to mask its culpability in the killings. It laid bare the Arroyo government’s role in the political killings.
The very next day the report came out, a group called Kontra Daya (Against Fraud) was launched. The crowd that attended the launching was small but formidable. Coordinated by Fr. Joe Dizon, the group included former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, Bp. Elmer Bolocon of the Ecumenical Bishops Forum, Bp. Deogracias Iniguez, Sr. May John Mananzan, Dr. Carol Pagaduan-Araullo, National Artist Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera, Director Carlitos Siguion-Reyna, Law Dean Pete Agabin, former Solicitor General Frank Chavez, Amado Gat Inciong, Atty. Oscar Orbos, RC Constantino, Atty. Josefina Lichauco, Bettina Legarda, Dean Conseulo Paz, Dr. Edelina de la Paz, Dr. Menguita Padilla, Col. (ret.) Gerry Cunanan, among others. In the crowd was General Guidani who exposed the participation of the AFP in electoral fraud in the 2004 elections which precipitated the issuance of Executive Order No.464. He said they likewise formed an anti-fraud group.
Monitor and expose
Kontra-Daya expressed its intention to monitor and expose fraud before, during, and after the May 14 national elections including the use of government resources to campaign for administration candidates, involvement of military and police in electoral fraud and violence, vote-padding, vote shaving, vote buying, disenfranchisement of voters, etc.; to set up a center to receive reports of electoral fraud; to lead and participate in mobilizations against electoral fraud; and to coordinate with other groups which are against electoral fraud.
This group may not have sufficient resources to monitor 250,000 polling precints and 1,700 Board of Canvassers nationwide. Nevertheless, it offered a venue where the public can send reports of electoral fraud and constituted a movement of a broad range of people from different sectors, including the military, against electoral fraud.
The formation of Kontra-Daya and the Alston report addressed two critical issues confronting the Arroyo government: its crisis of legitimacy and charges of electoral fraud; and the gross violations of human rights especially the abhorrent crimes of political killings and forced disappearances.
Alston nor the UNHRC he represents cannot put a stop to the political killings and forced disappearances. Only the Arroyo government can immediately put a stop to it, if the government so orders. After all, the Arroyo government boasts that the AFP chain of command is intact.
Kontra-Daya cannot prevent electoral fraud from being committed. It can only be stopped by those who commit it. As Sixto Brillantes put it, “Sino ba ang nandadaya kundi ang administrasyon? Hindi naman makakapandaya ang oposisyon.” (Who cheats but the administration? The opposition is not able to cheat.) Indeed, the opposition does not have the resources and machinery to cheat on a nationwide scale.
But the Arroyo government will only do so out of fear of losing what it values most: foreign aid, loans and investments. And foreign governments are not wont to withhold these for they do not want to lose the profits they generate from it. However, the lesson of People Power 1 is clear. Even the U.S. was forced to withdraw support from the Marcos dictatorship when they saw that the movement of the Filipino people was strong and formidable.