By CPP Information Bureau
In reaction to the 2 October murder of a brother of Northern Samar Gov. Raul Daza by masked assailants, the National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas today urged unity and action by various sectors to end the climate of impunity not only in the province but the whole region as well. "Because of the coming election, it is unavoidable to think that the Daza killing and many more are connected to traditional politics," said Fr. Santiago Salas, NDF-EV spokesperson.
"However, the existing climate of impunity in unrestrained killings will make election-related violence today even more rampant. This climate of impunity came about because of Oplan Bantay Laya, where the Arroyo government and its military are engaged in the political killings of progressives and perceived supporters of the revolutionary movement. In fact, the looming concern is that Oplan Bantay Laya goes along with the Arroyo regime's political and military maneuvers to remain in power beyond 2010."
Fr. Salas explained that the political killings and other human rights violations under the Arroyo regime's Oplan Bantay Laya campaign since 2001 had over the years led to the climate of impunity. "In the Arroyo regime's dirty war in Eastern Visayas, the 8th Infantry Division routinely violates the CARHRIHL, the Geneva Conventions, and even the very laws of the reactionary government. The 8th ID's attacks on civilians and their communities sends the message that acting without law and accountability is acceptable. The private armed groups of the local politicians are emboldened by the conduct of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which in fact acts like the biggest private army of them all, butchering and threatening all forms of political opposition in behalf of Arroyo."
The NDF-EV spokesperson furthermore called for vigilance against the efforts of the Arroyo regime and the military to take control of the election. "The 8th ID chief Gen. Arthur Tabaquero has no moral authority to put down election violence because the military is actually engaged in partisanship and electioneering by persecuting progressives who want to participate in the election. The people must also guard against the striving to put so-called election hotspots under military rule, such as what Bantay party-list representative Gen. Jovito Palparan proposed for Calbayog City, and which resulted in strong criticism in Congress. Such a proposal will give the Arroyo regime, widely suspected of planning to stay in power beyond 2010, a dangerous latitude in rigging the election or else declare a state of emergency should there be a failure of election."
Fr. Salas said that the way forward over the climate of impunity in unrestrained killings in Eastern Visayas is the unity and action of various sectors against Oplan Bantay Laya and for justice for all victims of political killings and fascist state terrorism. "It is foolish to believe that the unrestrained violence today can be solved without bringing the main culprit, the Arroyo regime, to account.The political killings and election-related violence are bound to worsen because of the Oplan Bantay Laya extermination campaign against progressives. Moreover, the reactionary politicians are fighting even more ferociously for personal gain today, with lesser room for accommodation in the midst of crisis.
"Various concerned sectors such as the Church, mass media, human rights advocates, election activists, sympathetic public officials and others can therefore unite to resist Oplan Bantay Laya, call on the Arroyo regime to end the climate of impunity, and demand justice for all victims of political killings and fascist state terrorism. Such unity and action can go on to safeguard the election against the Arroyo regime's expected cheating and violence."
The NDF-EV spokesperson also urged the people to confront the reactionary politicians by asserting their democratic demands and struggling for their basic interests. "As always, the people have little say in the reactionary election, even as various politicians are now busily grooming themselves and slinging mud at their opponents. But the people can turn the tables on these rogues by rejecting their worn-out promises and by demanding concrete answers to the pressing problems of hunger, poverty and repression.
"Furthermore, the people can refuse these traditional politicians who regard public office as private gain, and support instead those who call for change in politics and advocate real progress based on nationalist and democratic reforms. The people must persevere in their mass struggles and have their democratic strength recognized rather than allow the reactionary politicians to have the monopoly of discussion. While the reactionary election will not bring fundamental changes, the people can thus earn victories and strengthen themselves for the longer struggle."