Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. VI, No. 38      Oct. 29 -Nov. 4, 2006      Quezon City, Philippines








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An Urgent Appeal to the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) of the Lelio Basso International Foundation for the Rights and Liberation of People (Foundation)

Second Appeal of the Filipino People

Dr. Salvatore Senese
President and
Dr. Gianni Tognoni
Secretary General

Dear Sirs:

In 1980, at the suit of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) the Filipino and Bangsa Moro peoples jointly presented their case before the PPT.  They indicted Ferdinand Marcos and his fascist government, the US government and US-controlled financial institutions, multi-national corporations and commercial banks.  Specifically, the US-backed Marcos government was charged with violations of people’s rights, violations of human rights and crimes under international law.  The US and other defendants were charged as co-conspirators.

After a fair hearing, all the defendants were found guilty as charged under the Algiers Declaration by a panel of internationally-renowned jurors and judges whose credentials for probity and independence are beyond question.

Today, twenty-six years later, we come to this Tribunal again to indict the same breed of oppressors and exploiters of the Filipino people and the other peoples of the world.  Their crimes under the Bush-supported Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo government continue to be inflicted upon the Filipino people with escalating violence and brutality in what the first verdict of this Tribunal appropriately called a neo-colonial system that breeds a “continuing criminal enterprise” under international law.

In the 1980 verdict, which we hereby adopt and affirm, this Tribunal ruled, among others, that:

1.                      Ferdinand Marcos was an illegitimate head of state and a puppet of the US whose government did not represent the genuine interest of the great majority of the Filipino people;

2.                      Philippine society was semi-feudal and semi-colonial in character whose economy was an adjunct of the US and the world capitalist system and bound by policies dictated by the US and the US-controlled International Monetary Fund and World Bank;

3.                      The social and economic situation of the great majority of the Filipino people is one of misery and oppression.  There was widespread poverty, corruption and injustice;

4.                      While the situation of the Filipino people was unique in that the Philippines was a former colony of the US burdened by a number of onerous treaties and agreements of a political and economic nature, the historical exploitation and oppression of the Filipino people was common to most of the Third World countries dominated by an expanding capitalist economy;

5.                      Specifically, the first session of the PPT on the Philippines found that the Bangsa Moro people and indigenous Filipinos were being subjected to physical extermination and to well-planned and accelerating programs of displacement from their ancestral lands;

6.                      The security forces of the martial rule of Ferdinand Marcos, with the support and direct involvement of the US, resorted to murder, kidnapping, torture and other brutalities and abuses to perpetuate itself in power and the interests of foreign and local exploiting classes; and

7.                      The Filipino people, having lost their most basic rights, freedoms and democratic means of defense and expression, had organized themselves in sectoral mass organizations and in underground armed resistance movement which acquired their legitimacy from the oppression itself, the relevance and validity of the national democratic program of government that they espoused and the widespread support of the people.

We are victims of politically motivated killings and other crimes committed and which continue to be committed with impunity by the US puppet regime of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.  We, our deceased and/or disappeared relatives, belong to a wide spectrum of social classes in Philippine society who are/were either leaders or members of the progressive left, or ordinary Filipinos who support the struggle for social justice and peace and democracy.  Prior to this appeal and with the support of our network we have taken the following preparations for a second session of the PPT on the Philippines:

1.                      We have formed an International Coordinating Secretariat (ICS) in Utrecht, The Netherlands which made the initial presentation of our appeal to PPT, discussed the details and proposed the schedule of the convening of the second session on 30 October 2006 (to coincide with the 26th anniversary of the first session of the PPT on the Philippines and the 30th anniversary of the Algiers Declaration) and the formal trial part on 22 to 25 March 2007;

2.                      We have organized a Philippine Coordinating Secretariat (PCS) which will implement and coordinate relevant activities and preparations in the Philippines;

3.                      We have convened an initiators’ group composed of our own newly-organized association of victims of the Arroyo and Bush governments, two existing organizations of victims of human rights abuses, and several well-known progressive sectoral and multi-sectoral organizations and institutions in the Philippines whose members were predominantly the victims;

4.                      We have organized our own association called HUSTISYA! composed of victims since Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed the presidency on 21 January 2001;

5.                      We have mobilized a legal team composed of human rights lawyers who will assist the victims in gathering evidence and presenting their cases before the PPT.  The legal team has selected representative cases for presentation to the PPT. It will comprehensively document as many cases as possible and preserve the evidence for future use in the unrelenting quest of the victims for justice; and

6.                      We have assembled a team of researchers and writers composed of lawyers, human rights workers, experts and scholars who will undertake an in-depth research and analysis of the issues involved in the indictment, assist the prosecutors and prepare briefing papers and materials for the jurors, judges, participants, media and other interested parties.

It is necessary to state briefly the current situation in the Philippines.

Philippine economy continues to be in a chronic state of severe crisis, underdeveloped and basically agrarian and burdened by local and foreign debts amounting to approximately six trillion pesos (or USD 120 billion).  The servicing of the interests and principal of these huge government borrowings had eaten up a whopping 81 percent of government revenues last year, which is expected to increase considerably this year. The most basic duty of government to provide social services for the poor such as health, education and housing has been sacrificed in order to service these loans and to support a bloated and exceedingly disproportionate budget for the military and the police. 

The workers, peasants and slum-dwellers in the urban centers continue to live (or merely subsist) in extreme poverty and misery, suffering from malnutrition, hunger and poverty-related diseases.  The ranks of the unemployed continue to swell and has reached around 40% of the work force including the so-called underemployed.  The government is bankrupt, and is maintained by imposition of more taxes, re-scheduling of existing debts and more public borrowings at increasingly onerous terms, and the sale of government assets.  The economy is kept afloat by these stop-gap measures and the remittances of the earnings of Filipino migrant workers abroad.  The export of labor is the major industry and the number one dollar earner for the country.  There are now more than 8 million Filipino migrant workers at any given time scattered in 180 countries around the world.

The Macapagal-Arroyo government has considerably aggravated this situation by  collaborating with foreign monopoly capital, mainly through the US government, the IMF-WB-WTO and multinational companies, in intensifying the plunder of the Philippine economy through the neoliberal polices of deregulation, liberalization, privatization and de-nationalization.

Irrefutable evidence of betrayal of public trust, electoral fraud, electioneering and accountability for grievous human rights violations confront the presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.  But by using bribery, threats and the power and the resources available to the presidency, Mrs. Arroyo was able to suppress such evidence during the impeachment process.  Her tenuous stay in office faces a daily challenge of another people’s uprising from the broad alliance of progressive and traditional opposition forces and coup d’etat from the restive military and police forces.  Plunder and corruption involving the First Family and top officials in her government are rampant.  The Macapagal-Arroyo government is extremely isolated from the people and politically unstable.  In order to survive, it has resorted to the following draconian measures under an all-out war policy in line with the US global war of terror: 

1.             It has become more servile and dependent on the US, foreign   economic interests and a faction of the top leadership of the military and police establishment;

2.             It has misappropriated, malversed and misused government resources and further abused political patronage to cultivate and maintain the loyalty of corrupt politicians, power-brokers and the bureaucracy;

3.             It has abused its powers, curtailed the basic freedoms and liberties of the people, and brazenly disregarded the rule of law; and

4.             Worst, it has resorted to serial murder, abduction and enforced disappearances, massacre, torture and other human rights abuses against political activists, human rights advocates, militant church people, sectoral and multisectoral mass leaders of workers, peasants, fisherfolk, urban poor and indigenous peoples, and professionals such as journalists, lawyers, teachers and doctors.

Sirs, in the second session of the PPT, we propose to prove the continuing violations by the defendants of our economic, social and cultural rights and our right as a people to national self-determination and liberation.  But we propose that we be allowed to put in the forefront the violations of our civil and political rights.

The human rights situation in the Philippines today is dismal and alarming. Both the brutality and viciousness of the attacks on the victims and the number of victims killed or disappeared have exceeded prior records, including that of the dreaded Marcos dictatorship.  Murder, kidnapping and torture occur almost daily nationwide. As of this date, more than 760 have been summarily killed, more than 120 have been abducted and involuntarily disappeared, scores have been massacred and thousands have been “invited” for questioning by the military, detained and tortured.  Whole villages and towns in several provinces and regions have been declared by the AFP as NPA-controlled or influenced and placed under military control.  The residents are then terrorized and forced to confess as NPA members or supporters and to swear allegiance to the government.  Curfew is imposed, checkpoints are set up and a blockade in movement of people, food and agricultural products is imposed.  The jurisdiction and authority of local officials is supplanted by military power.  There is a complete breakdown of the rule of law.  Victims, their relatives and witnesses are terrorized and prevented from complaining or coming out to testify.  For valid reasons, they do not trust the police, the public prosecutors and the judges.  The very few human rights workers who try to respond to the killings are often barred from the scene of the crime, harassed and threatened by operatives of the military.  Not a few have themselves been abducted, tortured and killed while conducting fact-finding missions. 

The killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other abuses show a clear pattern of state policy. They are being committed with impunity.  Due to criticisms from national and international human rights organizations, churches, and foreign government officials and fact-finding missions of concerned organizations, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has belatedly seen the need to issue a rhetorical statement and take a pro-forma official action, clearly intended to deflect and defuse the continuing barrage of criticisms against her government and cover up her own culpability and that of her generals and some cabinet officials.

Several human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Asian Human Rights Commission and fact-finding missions of churches, peasants, journalists and lawyers and tribunals initiated by concerned individuals and organizations in the Philippines and abroad have found sufficient evidence linking security forces of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo government to the political killings and declaring her accountable for these crimes.

We respectfully appeal for a second session of the PPT on the Philippines.  We request that the appropriate verdict be rendered after hearing and receiving our evidence on the charges.


By Evangeline Hernandez
Head Convenor 

By Aleli Dew Ayroso 

By Donato Continente

Carol Araullo


© 2006 Bulatlat  Alipato Media Center

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