President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s move to put up a P25-million reward fund to solve political killings has been criticized as a “desperate attempt” of her regime to show that she is doing something to address the problem.
BY ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
Posted by Bulatlat
BAGUIO CITY (246 kms north of Manila) – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s move to put up a P25-million reward fund to solve political killings has been criticized as a “desperate attempt” of her regime to show that she is doing something to address the problem.
A spokesperson of an indigenous peoples’ rights watchdog and a progressive partylist representative both said that the move tends to draw attention away from the longer list of extra-judicial killings of political activists since 2001, which were allegedly perpetrated by state security agents.
Last April 27, human rights organization Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) reported to the 42nd session of the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) that they have documented about 1,016 cases of torture, 1,013 extrajudicial killings and 201 victims of enforced disappearances since 2001.
Lawyer Manja Bayang said in an interview that the so-called P25 million reward fund is a ploy to take the focus out of the real perpetrators – the state and its agents.
“The thing is, this (reward system) does not solve the problem because it does not address the cause,” said Bayang, who is the spokesperson of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Monitor, a national group documenting human rights violations committed against indigenous peoples nationwide.
Reports showed that the rights of indigenous peoples nationwide are violated mostly by military and other state agents when they are deployed in IP communities where mining operations are.
“The government is not at all honest and faithful. It turns a blind eye on several investigations pointing liability to state agents,” said Bayang adding: “If the government is serious about solving the problem, they should start at investigating retired Gen. Jovito Palparan, Jr. and other state agents identified by the Melo Commission and the United Nations.
In Congress, GMA’s order for legislators to share their pork barrel to the fund was criticized by a militant legislator.
“She passes the burden of raising the reward fund to members of Congress, implying they share responsibility in ‘the legacy of political violence’ and thus they must share in seeking to end it,” House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna (People First) Rep. Satur C. Ocampo pointed out in a statement.
He added that what lies at the core of her order is “sheer posturing”, an excuse for inaction on the political killings under her watch.
Ocampo pointed out that it tends to draw attention away from the longer list of extra-judicial killings of political activists since 2001 that have been ascribed to state security forces by the Melo Commission and UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Prof. Phillip Alston.
“GMA also seeks to exculpate her government from accountability by saying political violence has been a scourge of Philippine politics long before (this) administration,” added Ocampo.
Channel fund to social services
In the Cordillera region, a human rights group said that the reward fund being put up is “an admission by GMA’s regime that political killings exist.”
“It is (proof of the) failure of GMA to stop, prosecute and punish the perpetrators of these political killings and other human rights violations attributed to her regime,“ Jude Baggo, secretary general of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA), said, pointing out that these killings continue due to the Arroyo administration’s counter-“insurgency” program called Oplan Bantay Laya (Operation Freedom Watch) II.
Baggo said that the P25-million fund should instead be channeled to social services. (Northern Dispatch / Posted by (Bulatlat.com)).