Of Joma and Jonas, Doble and Abalos

A lot of news seems to be competing for the deadlines: the arrest of Jose Maria Sison, the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos, the expose of Vidal Doble and the “Hello Garci” tapes, and the NBN deal and the alleged involvement of Comelec Chair Benjamin Abalos. However, these seeming disparate news are actually connected.

Vol. VII, No. 30, September 2-8, 2007

A lot of news seems to be competing for the headlines: the arrest of Jose Maria Sison; the repeated denials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that they have Jonas Burgos in their custody and the cover-up being done by the police despite the evidences that point to the military’s culpability; the expose of Vidal Doble, former operative of the Intelligence Service of the AFP (ISAFP), that military intelligence agents did tap the phone of former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Virgilio Garcillano, thereby proving the authenticity of the “Hello Garci” tapes and the commission of electoral fraud in the 2004 presidential elections; and the alleged involvement of Comelec Chair Benjamin Abalos in the infamous National Broadband Network deal with ZTE of China. However, these seeming disparate news are actually connected.

Jose Maria Sison and Jonas Burgos are both victims of the U.S. led “war on terror” being implemented by the Macapagal-Arroyo administration. What happened to both Sison and Burgos also reflects the militarist mindset of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration and is the result of its desperation to try to end the armed conflict through force, something which not even the Marcos dictatorship was able to accomplish during the dark days of Martial Law when the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) had just been reestablished.

The Dutch government could not have arrested Sison out of concern over the killings of Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara. The murder and rebellion cases against Sison, who was thousands of miles away when the killings happened, have not prospered in the Philippines despite having the whole Department of Justice, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, and the Arroyo Cabinet Committee on National Security planning out the filing of cases against leftists and activists. How then could the Dutch police have gathered sufficient evidences during their visits in the country when the whole Macapagal-Arroyo administration has been doing it for years without being able to pin down Sison on these cases, not even in a case of rebellion?

The Dutch government could have acted only upon the prodding of the U.S., which has a strong enough influence to make such a “request.” It was the U.S. which first included the CPP, NPA, and Sison in its terror list. And it is in the interest of both the U.S, and the Macapagal-Arroyo administration to have him arrested in the name of the “war on terror.” As for the Dutch government, it has its investors in the country to protect.

Similarly, the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos was clearly the handiwork of the U.S.–trained AFP, as part of its counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya (Operation Guard Freedom), the local version of the U.S. “war on terror.” All evidences, which includes the license plates of two vehicles used in the abduction and the statement of witnesses, point to the AFP as the culprits. And the recent declaration of the Philippine National Police (PNP) that the forcible abduction was part of an NPA purge, using an oft-repeated, incredible official line of the government which was repeatedly debunked by independent investigations including that of the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Philip Alston and the government’s own Commission on Human Rights, only bolsters the conclusion that the AFP did it.

The Macapagal-Arroyo administration’s support to the U.S.-led “war on terror”, its militarist and fascist ways, and its impunity in committing human rights violations are issues that continue to darken its record.

Likewise the persistent charges of fraud and corruption, which continue to haunt the government despite its efforts to push these issues aside, have prevented it from overcoming the crisis of legitimacy it is enmeshed in since 2005.

The recent statement of Vidal Doble has not only proven the fact that the military is conducting illegitimate means to spy on its perceived enemies and even on the government’s own people who are deemed critical to its survival, such as former Comelec Commisioner Virgilio Garcillano. It has practically authenticated the “Hello Garci” tapes which recorded the calls of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to Garcillano asking the latter to ensure that she wins by 1 million votes during the 2004 elections. It confirms what every Filipino knows and the Comelec of Abalos continues to deny: that massive fraud was committed at the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), especially in Maguindanao and the Lanao provinces, during the 2004 and 2007 elections. And the more its certified hitmen in the Senate namely Miriam Defensor Santiago and Juan Ponce Enrile try to block the Senate from playing the tapes by using legal mumbo-jumbo, the more it lends credence to Doble’s statement and the “Hello Garci tapes.”

The involvement of Comelec Chair Benjamin Abalos in the dubious and corruption-ridden National Broadband Network (NBN) contract with ZTE of China came both as a surprise and as a revelation. For the issues surrounding the NBN contract reeks of how the Comelec works: the supposed stolen contract reminds us of the supposedly stolen Certificates of Canvass in Maguindanao; the feigned ignorance and contradicting statements of government officials; and worst of all, the attempts to deceive and steal from the Filipino people. The Macapagal-Arroyo administration, through the Comelec, stole the vote from the Filipino people and is making us pay for it by passing on the burden of the economic crisis it helps create – through its policies of liberalization, deregulation, and privatization – by imposing heavy taxes and fees. The highly irregular NBN contract is also making us pay, through taxes, something which the Macapagal-Arroyo administration could get for free. And the more the Macapagal-Arroyo administration tries to legitimize the contract by having its certified lapdog Justice Sec. Raul Gonzalez declare the contract as valid, the more it confirms that the NBN deal is eschewed.

If there is really enough evidence to charge Jose Maria Sison in court, then how come the cases filed by the Macapagal-Arroyo administration against him never prospered in court? On the other hand, there is enough evidence pointing to the military as the culprits in the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos. Why then is the AFP not being put to task for its cruelty of keeping the whereabouts of Jonas from his family and why is the PNP covering up for them? If the Macapagal-Arroyo administration has no policy of committing human rights violations, why is it being violated with impunity?

If there is really no basis to conclude that fraud was committed during the 2004 elections, why is the Macapagal-Arroyo administration so hell-bent on preventing the playing of the tapes and in stopping the investigation into the “Hello Garci” tapes? If the government is so obsessive about insisting on the illegality of wiretapping, why is the ISAFP doing it? Why is it now being allowed under the Anti-Terrorism law? If the fraud-ridden 2004 and 2007 elections happened under the watch of Comelec Chair Benjamin Abalos and now he is being linked to the highly irregular NBN deal with ZTE, why is there no effort to investigate him? In the first place, if the Macapagal-Arroyo administration is really serious in stamping out corruption, why is it that no high-level government official has ever been charged while big cases of high-level corruption still keep on piling up?

If the Macapagal-Arroyo administration keeps on ignoring these questions, then perhaps the search for the truth and for justice lies in the hands of the Filipino people. (Bulatlat.com)

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