Marcos and Arroyo: Hounded by Rights Abuses

An increase in U.S. military assistance results in a corresponding increase in the number of human rights violations. During the Marcos dictatorship, the unprecedented amount of military assistance given to the government went to the persecution of people and mounting human rights violations. This is what is happening also under Arroyo.

Contributed to Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 29, August 26 – September 1, 2007

Dr. Rainer Werning, a lecturer at the Internationale Weiterbildung und Entwicklung (InWEnt) in Bad Honnef, Germany, interviewed Prof. Bobby Tuazon, a Filipino journalist and a political analyst of the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG). Tuazon, who teaches at the University of the Philippines in Manila, used to chair its political science program and has been an editor of major dailies and a number of independent news services and online news magazines.

Dr. Werning recently held a series of lectures about the European legacy in the Philippines at the Ateneo de Manila University, German Club, Notre Dame University (Cotabato) and University of San Carlos (Cebu) upon the invitation of Goethe-Institut, Manila. He interviewed Tuazon on March 22 this year at The Hague, The Netherlands on the side of the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) second session on the Philippines.

The interview is also being published as the Philippines marked the 24th anniversary of the assassination of Marcos critic, Benigno Aquino, Jr. on Aug. 21, 1983. His assassination and the litany of rights abuses during the Marcos dictatorship (1972-1986) have been likened to the current crisis of human rights under President Gloria M. Arroyo.

Excerpts of that interview follow:

Rainer Werning (RW): It’s been 21 years since the ouster of the Marcos dictatorship. One may get the impression that things are turning full circle. What, in your interpretation, sets the Marcos dictatorship apart or how would you describe the differences between that regime and the current administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo?

Bobby Tuazon (BT): To many Filipinos, especially the human rights groups, the fall of the Marcos dictatorship signified only a transfer of political power from Marcos to the members of the anti-Marcos ruling elite. To say that the fall of the Marcos dictatorship opened the dawn of democracy and the ground fertile for social and economic reform is a fallacy. In fact, the situation has worsened especially now under the government of President Gloria M. Arroyo in terms, for instance, of the number of human rights violations and also in terms of the culture of impunity that characterizes the gross and systematic violations of human rights.

RW: Among your colleagues in the Philippine press, would you know the current number of journalists who have been killed under the GMA administration since January 2001?

BT: Since January 2001 when Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, then the vice president, ascended to the presidency after the second People Power uprising, the number of journalists killed has risen to more than 50 journalists. This is unprecedented, considering that the Marcos dictatorship that lasted for 14 years had about 30 journalists killed compared to 50 killed under Arroyo’s six years. The toll is even comparable to the number of media killings during the previous three presidencies before Arroyo. Under Arroyo’s presidency, the Philippines gained the notoriety as a country most dangerous to journalists second only to Iraq.

RW: How do you explain this spate of killings now going on in the Philippines for some years now?

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