Arroyo Regime Implementing Martial Law Tactics, Says Rights Group

01 March 2010

The human rights alliance KARAPATAN is raising the alarm that the Arroyo regime through her generals, is now implementing martial law tactics against its supposed “enemies.”

Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Chairperson of the Alliance pointed out that this is being shown by the military’s illegal arrest of the 43 health workers, its brazen disregard and violation of the law, specifically RA 7438, its outright initial defiance of the Court order to present the victims to the Court, and its intransigence in keeping the victims in a military camp where military elements continue the torture of the detainees, denial of medical attention to the victims and harassments of relatives.

The Arroyo regime, through her generals’ martial law treatment of the 43 Health Workers and the military’s blatant disregard for human rights and violation of the law, is setting the pattern for the military’s conduct of beating its Oplan Bantay Laya 2’s supposed deadline to end the insurgency this year. “It is no wonder why the military continues its vilification campaign against KARAPATAN and other progressive people’s organizations; through this campaign, the military seeks to justify its fascist ways of silencing legitimate criticism of inimical government policies by legitimate people’s organizations whose members are vocal in their dissent and opposition, “said Hilao-Enriquez.

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The Alliance has also noted that the regime has resorted to slapping individuals and groups with fabricated charges to silence them and paralyze their organization’s activities just like what the martial law regime did when it jailed thousands of political dissenters and other opposition. Worse, the upcoming election is also being conveniently used by the military to strike at supposed “enemies of the state.” Early on, it has boasted that the election checkpoints have netted not only criminals but suspected rebels and used the rebel labeling to justify the illegal arrest and detention of their victims. This is illustrated in the case of Cirila Estrada, an asthmatic organizer of a peasant group in Iloilo who was illegally arrested by members of the PNP when she went to the city to seek medical service. She was charged with the election gun ban even if no weapon was found in her possession. Now she is detained at the Iloilo Rehabilitation Center (IRC).

The military has also intensified its attacks against human rights defenders. KARAPATAN has documented 338 victims of threat, harassment and intimidation for the period Jan-Feb 2010. Early this year, Cesar Lopez Dionido, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-NCR, was approached by intelligence agents and has been receiving threatening text messages. In Bohol, Ms. Ira Pamat and the Women’s Development Center, Inc., and other progressive partylist groups have become targets of a smear campaign conducted by the Southern Command of the AFP. Another health worker, Ronald Capitania, was shot on February 23, 2010 by two masked men. Capitania survived and still confined in a hospital in Bacolod City.

“The military’s disregard for human rights, disrespect of judicial procedures, and the brazenness and absence of remorse on these violations are slowly killing democracy and basic freedoms in the country. People must be more concerned and be more vigilant in asserting their rights, especially in the face of more repressive martial law tactics being foisted by the regime in the run up to the upcoming polls.” Hilao-Enriquez said.

“This brings to focus the state of our judiciary, which is often referred to as the last bastion of democratic processes. We fervently hope that the courts will not bow down to military pressure in the face of these repressive attacks against citizens’ rights. In this light, we ask, ‘what is taking the Court of Appeals so long to hand down the decision on the habeas corpus petition of the Morong 43?’” Hilao-Enriquez concluded.

Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Chairperson

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