“The IALAG acted like an investigator, prosecutor and judge,” Pahilga said. “There is no due process because the agencies under the IALAG have a preconceived notion that the respondents in their trumped-up charges are guilty.”
In a separate statement, the human-rights group Karapatan said the abolition of the IALAG is long overdue and is nothing but a confirmation that the agency has time and again been used by state agents to violate human rights.
Randall Echanis, a peasant leader, was arrested in January 2008 for multiple murder. He was accused of involvement in a so-called purge of the New People’s Army in the 1980s. He is presently detained at the Manila City Jail.
Echanis, in a statement, said the IALAG abolition “demonstrates that this case is nothing but political persecution against me and a product of Ms. Arroyo’s cabinet security cluster’s dirty imagination.”
Echanis said the abolition of the IALAG will be useless unless the Arroyo government drops all the false and malicious charges filed against activists.
Karapatan called for the immediate release of political prisoners charged with common crimes.
Pahilga said the Arroyo regime is mistaken in thinking that the IALAG has been successful, as claimed by Ermita. “Contrary to the statement of Arroyo, it’s a total failure.” In her EO, Arroyo said the IALAG has already accomplished its mandate.
Pahilga said that some of the cases filed by the IALAG were dismissed for lack of evidence. “The charges have been exposed as fabricated and that the IALAG has no purpose but to harass leaders of the Left.”
Matibag recalled that Chief Justice Reynato Puno, in the Supreme Court decision dismissing the rebellion charges against the Batasan 6, admonished public prosecutors not to allow their office to be used or prostituted for political objectives.
No Cause for Celebration
Pahilga said that even without the IALAG, the persecution of critics and activists will continue. “The abolition of the IALAG would hardly create any change in the attitude of the Arroyo regime toward its perceived enemies.”
“The formal structure may have been dismantled but the machinery of the government remains intact; it will still be used against the activists. They have completed the process of filing legal offensives,” Pahilga said.
The human-rights watchdog noted Ermita’s statement saying that the government has “other means of monitoring the activities of those trying to destabilize the government.”
It is possible, Karapatan said, “that the Arroyo administration will not stand down from targeting unarmed individuals calling for genuine social change.”
It reiterated that Arroyo should be held accountable for the gross human-rights violations in her nine years of power. “A vital step in obtaining justice for the victims is her removal from Malacañang,” Karapatan said. (Bulatlat.com)