A protest highlights an international court’s “guilty” verdict on Philippine President Aquino and US President Barack Obama.
By BRUCE KYLE MALLO
MANILA – Gabriela Women’s Partylist together with other groups protested at the Mendiola Peace Arch as they welcomed the verdict of the International People’s Tribunal (IPT) finding the Philippine and US governments guilty of violating the rights of the Filipino people.
“This is a condemnation of the intensifying political repression of the Aquino government on the mass organizations,” said Gabriela chair emerita Liza Maza, in a “butterfly protest” on July 20.
“The Aquino administration silences people who are critical to it, through surveillance, harassment, and intimidation of government employees — vital examples of how the Aquino government intensifies its fascism in the country,” Maza added.
Maza was one of the 32 witnesses who testified against the Aquino government at the IPT held in Washington D.C., from July 16 to 18. Maza gave her expert testimony from Manila via Skype, after she was barred by the US government from travelling to the US.
Among the complainants to the IPT were the leaders from the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Kadamay, Migrante, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Bayan Muna, and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan). The groups highlighted cases of how the Aquino administration violated the people’s political, social, economic, and cultural rights.
Bayan, in a statement, said the Aquino administration has adopted the tactics of the notorious human right violator retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr., in trying to quell government critics.
9 to 15 hounds
Maza cited the harassment cases against three women activists: former Gabriela International Relations Officer Rosanna “Sharon” Cabusao, a victim of warrantless arrest; Clarissa Singson Gabriela Negros chairperson who was falsely charged with murder; and Gabriela Davao secretary general Mary Sapar, who works for the Save our Schools campaign for the defense of Lumad schools under attack by the military in Mindanao, and was charged with serious illegal detention and kidnapping.
The latest case was that of Tonette Dizon, a long-time organizer of COURAGE, who was subjected to surveillance and was tailed by nine to 15 suspected military agents, Maza told Bulatlat.com.
“She was obviously followed by three cars and some motorcycled men every day,” Maza said.
“Clearly, we all know who is capable of doing these intimidation and who has the resources. It’s the military and the police, and so there is clearly a motive to abduct her,” Maza added.
She said the suspected government agents followed Dizon from the Supreme Court in Manila, where COURAGE filed a petition for a writ of Amparo for state union leaders who were being harassed, and hounded her up to the IBP office in Pasig city. Dizon subsequently sought refuge at the IBP office.
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay challenged the government: “They should stop intimidating activists.”
She said that activists such as Dizon have been deprived of the right to privacy and free movement and the right to organize.
“The Aquino government has proven time and again that his office has numerous human rights violations, despite its many pretentions, and that the government is clearly trying to break the unity among progressive groups that raise awareness and issues that truly concern the public,” Palabay said.