US-Arroyo regime is culpable and accountable for assassinations under Bantay Laya I and II

By FIDEL V. AGCAOILI
Chairperson, NDFP Human Rights Committee

The survivors and families of victims of political assassinations and other violations of human rights cannot expect justice under the regime of GRP President Gloria M. Arroyo for the plain reason that it is culpable and accountable for these under Bantay Laya I and II. Mrs. Arroyo has no interest in pursuing the truth behind the atrocities.

By FIDEL V. AGCAOILI
Chairperson, NDFP Human Rights Committee

The survivors and families of victims of political assassinations and other violations of human rights cannot expect justice under the regime of GRP President Gloria M. Arroyo for the plain reason that it is culpable and accountable for these under Bantay Laya I and II. The fact that Mrs. Arroyo has refused to disclose the full report of the so-called Melo Commission confirming to some small extent military involvement in the killings shows a fear for the truth and a desperate effort to hide her criminal command responsibility.

Two days ago, Mrs. Arroyo seemed to confirm long-standing accounts that government security forces have been involved in extra-judicial killings and involuntary disappearances of activists suspected to be “front leaders and members” of the armed revolutionary movement, mentioning in particular the involvement of the “butcher”, former Army general Jovito Palparan. But just the following day, she exonerated the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and reiterated the findings of the discredited Task Force Usig blaming “leftist groups” for the killings, and human rights organizations for engaging in disinformation.

These latest moves by the Arroyo regime all the more buttress earlier assertions that the gross and systematic violations of human rights perpetrated by security forces is state policy, the authority for and implementation of which can only originate from the president and the commander-in-chief of the AFP.

Mrs. Arroyo has no interest in pursuing the truth behind the atrocities. She is dependent on the military malefactors for her political survival. She arrogantly boasted of her brutal counter-insurgency campaign, now dubbed as Oplan Bantay Laya II. She is actually opposed to letting the military be subjected to independent investigation. She fears that such investigation would most surely link the killings to herself and her military loyalists. She needs her generals more than ever to ensure her party’s “victory” in the coming May 2007 elections.

The European Union and leading Church institutions are well-advised to demand the full disclosure of the Melo Commission report first and criticize its slanted and largely false character before they can consider bowing to the suggestion of Arroyo and her minions that the commission extends its sham investigation. What they should do now is to support demands by human rights groups and other organizations in the Philippines and abroad for the creation of an independent investigation commission that has the power to ferret out the truth and bring the perpetrators of these political crimes to justice.

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