In 2009, Human Rights Took Serious Beating from Arroyo Regime

Loss of Civil Liberties

Bayan Muna partylist representative and aspiring senator Satur Ocampo said it is precisely the Arroyo government’s emphasis on military victory over dissent and armed rebellion, as devised and implemented by OBL, that is behind the sorry human-rights record of the Arroyo government.

Arroyo had personally announced the OBL phase 2 and its target to “finish off all enemies of the state by 2010,” Ocampo said. But by all indicators, “ their targets are unattainable,” he said. This much had been revealed by the defense secretary at the time, Gilbert Teodoro, who justified the high budget of the defense department in past congressional hearings as needed for increasing battalions of Scout Rangers and companies of CAFGUs. Teodoro had claimed that AFP lacks manpower and arms to decisively defeat armed opponent.

“Despite the huge armed forces and undetermined number of paramilitary troops, they cannot finish off the NPA which they have constantly belittled,” Ocampo said.

Arroyo’s security forces and their OBL cannot defeat the insurgency and protest movement because they’re not “addressing the basic problems that beset the Philippine society,” Karapatan said. Instead, the Arroyo government has only worsened the poverty and iniquity in the country. “The socio-economic component of OBL includes clearing the way for ‘economic projects’ which are actually multinational mining ventures, agro-industrial and other foreign and big business interest,” Karapatan said.

Karapatan further traced the worsening poverty of the people to Arroyo’s commitment to globalization, which has driven the country into heavy debt, huge deficit and the financial crisis. “Her government resorted to increasing tax burdens and drastic budget cuts on health, education and other social services while increasing debt servicing and military spending. It also further opened up the country’s mineral resources to multinational corporations and accelerated the program of exporting cheap labor.”

Given all that, “there will always be protest and resistance especially from the most economically deprived and politically marginalized sectors,” Karapatan said. Thus, they concluded, OBL is “doomed to fail just like any program that goes against the people.”

Indicting Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

The year 2009 “further proves that president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, knowingly and willfully leads the implementation of OBL and has repeatedly exhorted the military and related government agencies to meet the brutish targets set for 2010 despite the loss of lives, liberty and security of the victims of OBL,” Karapatan said in its year-end report.

“Arroyo is a most prolific Frankenstein,” journalist Carlos Conde said, because Arroyo has bred a lot of monsters such as the likes of the notorious Jovito Palparan , the Ampatuans and the resulting culture of impunity. Conde was invited to the launching of the report by Karapatan to present the media’s perspective on human rights abuses.

Even CHR chairperson Leila de Lima agreed that “nobody would surely dispute” the “state-sponsorship” of the Ampatuans.

Karapatan and its member organizations, on behalf of the victims of human rights violations and their families, indicted Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the AFP, PNP and their officers like Palparan and operatives involved in cases of human-rights violations for the following charges:

  • • Extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, illegal arrests, arbitrary detention and tortures;
  • • Vilification campaign and filing of trumped up and politically motivated charges against leaders and activists of the democratic movement;
  • • Indiscriminate firing, forced evacuation, militarization and other human rights violations directed at communities;
  • • Denial of justice through circumvention of the judicial system, cover-up and whitewashing;
  • • Persecution of human rights defenders;
  • • Repressive policies and legislation;
  • • Abetting U.S. military intervention.

Karapatan recommends the filing of a class suit against Arroyo here and in other countries for human rights violations and crimes against humanity. “We call for investigation of human rights violations especially extra-judicial killing, enforced disappearances and torture, and prosecution of those found accountable,” said Enriquez.

Aside from pushing for indemnification of the victims of human-rights violations by the Arroyo government and their families, Karapatan also calls for promotion and protection of the rights of human rights defenders.

Enact and strictly implement laws “that will deter would-be perpetrators and punish those guilty of human rights violations,” they also said.

To pave the way to achieving just and lasting peace, Karapatan urges the resumption of “peace negotiations between parties (GRP and NDFP; GRP and MILF) to the armed conflict in the Philippines.”

Karapatan also requested the international community to “continue to monitor the human rights situation in the Philippines,” saying the government’s record in it should be made a requirement in granting foreign aid, especially funds allocated for military purposes.

Of all post Marcos regimes, Arroyo’s is the most discredited and detested, Karapatan noted as it cited the surveys that consistently showed the people’s rejection of Arroyo’s reign. Even international surveys had noted the pretense of democracy in the Philippines and downgraded the country’s status as a “democracy.”

Under Arroyo, the Philippines has also been rated near or at the top of the most dangerous countries for journalists and activists. The country has likewise been rated as the most corrupt in Asia and one of the most corrupt in the world. (

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