Arroyo’s duplicity: Probers are welcome but death squads are on the loose

By FIDEL V. AGCAOILI
Chairperson, NDFP Human Rights Committee

The Arroyo government is once again fooling the Filipino people by claiming it welcomes human rights investigators from foreign countries in order to probe into allegations of political killings and other crimes. While Mrs. Arroyo’s executive secretary, Eduardo Ermita, was supposedly preparing the welcome mat for the foreign probers, the reactionary government’s death squads shot to death a human rights leader in Samar and, days earlier, attacked an unarmed peasant leader in Zambales while police forces raided a nuns’ convent in Agusan del Norte.

By FIDEL V. AGCAOILI
Chairperson, NDFP Human Rights Committee

The Arroyo government is once again fooling the Filipino people by claiming it welcomes human rights investigators from foreign countries in order to probe into allegations of political killings and other crimes. While Mrs. Arroyo’s executive secretary, Eduardo Ermita, was supposedly preparing the welcome mat for the foreign probers, the reactionary government’s death squads shot to death a human rights leader in Samar and, days earlier, attacked an unarmed peasant leader in Zambales while police forces raided a nuns’ convent in Agusan del Norte.

The reactionary Arroyo government is notorious for spreading blatant lies and cover-ups to conceal its own culpability in the continuing spate of extra-judicial executions, forced disappearances and other human rights violations in the Philippines. So infamous is the reactionary regime in feeding disinformation that investigators from the Amnesty International (AI) and Norwegian government should take extra caution in this regard.

Dr. Rodrigo Catayong, 55, was shot dead by Arroyo’s ski-masked hit men as he was about to get off his motorcycle with his wife at 6 am, November 5, in front of the parish church in General MacArthur, Eastern Samar. Catayong was head of the human rights alliance Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) in the province, an officer of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers and a professor and secretary of the Board of Regents of the Eastern Samar State University.

Last week, Emerlito Dizon, provincial secretary general of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL, Alliance of Peasants in Central Luzon), was attacked by three armed men in Palauig, Zambales. Fortunately, he survived the attack.

And on November 1, on the pretext of looking for a leader of the NDFP, policemen barged into the convent of the Contemplatives of the Good Shepherd in Ampayon, Agusan del Norte. The police raid was widely condemned by the Catholic Church as a brazen disregard of the sanctity of the convent and the right to due process. The police raiders were remorseless for what was unmistakably harassment, but which their chief claimed was a “mistake”.

These recent incidents show the Arroyo regime’s intent to step up its violent persecution not only against persons and organizations that have been openly critical of the government but also against those advocating human rights, peace and justice. It is bent on sowing fear among the people which is the very opposite of what it has vowed to international human rights organizations, church institutions and foreign governments that it would put a stop to the killings and hold a fair and transparent investigation.

Recent moves also attest that total war is what Gloria M. Arroyo and her advisers and generals really aim to do: While visiting China last week, Arroyo reiterated she would crush the “back” of the insurgency in two years. Then twice in a week, her national security adviser, Norberto Gonzales, called for the revival of the Anti-Subversion Law (RA 1700) which had already been repealed in 1992.

Gonzales is fanatically aiming to legitimize the present persecution of active political dissenters whose ranks continue to be the target of the regime’s Oplan Bantay Laya (military operation plan “Freedom Watch”), while intensely pushing for the passage of the fascist anti-terrorism bill (ATB). This clerico-fascist will not rest until the last blood is spilled in the regime’s anti-insurgency and anti-terrorism campaign.

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