By JORGE "Ka Oris" MADLOS
Spokesperson, NDFP – Mindanao
On the occasion of the anniversary of International Human Rights Day, the revolutionary forces in Mindanao reiterate their continuing respect for human rights in the face of the US-Arroyo regime's utter disregard for human rights. The new democratic revolution being waged by the CPP-NPA-NDF is at the same time a national struggle in defense of the human rights of the vast majority of the Filipino people.
The National Democratic Front-Mindanao strongly condemns the US-Arroyo regime for its gross violation of human rights. In its nine years in power, it has surpassed even the US-Marcos regime's brutality in its more than two decades in power.
The US-Arroyo regime's record of human rights violations, especially in the implementation of Oplan Bantay Laya and its record of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, harassment, mass evacuations and terrorism have become unprecedented and have turned out to be far worse than that of the Marcos dictatorship and all previous puppet reactionary regimes.
Its repeated attempts in the past to impose martial rule in the country and its exploitation of the widespread indignation at the Ampatuan Massacre to declare martial law in Maguindanao as a trial balloon for wider application reveal the US-Arroyo regime's propensity for tyrannical rule and its obsession with outdoing Marcos.
The massive use of the military, police, CAFGU, SCAA and CVO as private armies of Arroyo's warlord allies was purposely promoted under her administration. Mrs. Arroyo's political allies use the military and police to silence local opposition and lend their hand in the fight against the revolutionary forces the same way the regime uses these forces to commit extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and other human rights violations to silence its critics and remain in power. These forces have become mercenaries of Arroyo, her political allies and big foreign and comprador capitalists to coerce people into submission in the face of massive and shameless graft and corruption, abuse of power and greed for profit.
The US-Arroyo regime's OBL 1 and 2 and continuing massive military operations in the cities and countryside have spawned gross human rights violations throughout the country. Since the onset of the US-Arroyo regime in 2001, there have been 1,118 victims of extrajudicial killings and 204 victims of enforced disappearances. Such is her rule of impunity that even media people are not spared. There have already been 97 killings of media people under her regime including the 30 killed in the Ampatuan Massacre on November 23. The total so far of 57 victims of the massacre add to the already large number of those killed by government military, paramilitary, police and security forces and by warlord private armies. That such a vicious crime was clearly committed to ensure "victory" in the coming 2010 elections more grotesquely dramatizes the violence and cheating that Arroyo and her military and warlord minions have been doing in the past elections.
The US-Arroyo regime has poured the largest number of her military forces in Mindanao, with more than 11 infantry battalions and several tens of thousands of foot soldiers operating in the island. Not satisfied, it recruits, trains and arms several tens of thousands more of paramilitary forces such as CAFGUs, SCAAs and CVOs, adding to already large numbers of private security forces of warlords and big commercial logging and mining companies. These paramilitary forces are at the beck and call of political allies and big mining and logging companies, and are practically converted into their private armies to protect their interests, even as they are paid for by the ordinary taxpayers. Arroyo's Armed Forces of the Philippines creates, supports and arms Lumad paramilitary groups like the Bungkatol Liberation Front (BULIF), Wild Dogs and Task Force Gantangan-Bagani Force (TFG-BF) and tugs them along in military operations especially in Lumad communities to sow terror and induce conflict among the Lumad people.
These operations have resulted in more than 60 reported cases of extrajudicial killings in Mindanao in 2009 alone, victimizing mostly peasant and Lumad leaders of protests against big commercial mining and logging operations and against land conversions of large lardlord holdings to avoid coverage by agrarian reform.
In the Caraga Region there have been 11 recent cases of extrajudicial killings, including one where a two-month old infant was also killed, two cases of frustrated killings, a case of abduction with torture, and two more cases of torture. In Northern Mindanao, from 2004 to date, there have been 37 cases of extrajudicial killings, the most recent done by the paramilitary Bungkatol Liberation Front (BULIF) and 23rd IB against three Lumad datus in September 28, 2009 in Agusan del Sur. In Southern Mindanao Region, from January to November 26, 2009, there had been 10 cases of extrajudicial killings, bringing up the total to 115 victims since 2001. Who cannot forget the rape and murder of Ka Parago's daughter Rebelyn Pitao last March in Carmen, Davao Norte, and the killing of the child Grecil Galacio on March 31, 2009 in New Bataan, Compostela Valley? In the SOCKSARGENDS area, there have been 25 victims of extrajudicial killings and 25 victims of enforced disappearance since 2002. In Muslim areas, there have been 16 cases of extrajudicial killings, 43 cases of frustrated killings and two cases of enforced disappearances in this year alone, not counting the 57 Maguindanao massacre victims.
Thousands have been forced to evacuate from their communities because of aerial bombings and military operations in an effort to cleanse the area of protests against the entry of big commercial mining and logging operations, as part of the government's counter-insurgency program. In the Caraga region, more than 900 families were dislocated from their communities in 2009 alone. As schools and residences of families continue to be used as military barracks, the children are prevented from attending schools and their human rights violated. In the Southern Mindanao Region, there have been 22 recent cases of forced evacuations, displacing 930 families (5,129 individuals). In the Northern Mindanao Region, forced evacuations have affected 5,193 families (29,657 individuals) in 2008, mostly in Lanao. In February to May 2009, there have been four instances of aerial bombardment resulting in the forced evacuation of 4,553 individuals. In the SOCSARGENDS area, there have been 307 cases of human rights violations involving 34,624 individuals and 3,704 families since 2006. There have been many more cases of human rights violations in Muslim areas, including the forced evacuation of hundreds of thousands.
The active role of the US armed forces in committing these human rights violations cannot be discounted. Various reports have cited the presence and direct participation of US troops in combat operations across the island, especially in Zamboanga City; Tawi-tawi; Jolo, Sulu; Lamitan, Basilan; and Maguindanao. Human rights violations committed against the Filipino people by the mercenary AFP, PNP and paramilitary forces mirror that of the human rights violations committed by US soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and other parts of the world where they operate.
But the increasingly fascist methods of the US-Arroyo regime have not cowed the people into silence. Instead of becoming afraid, people are even bolder in raising their outrage against the record gross human rights violations of the ruling regime, decrying the culture of impunity it has been sowing and resisting its intensifying fascist rule. More and more are taking to the streets to decry the rotten, plunderous and brutal US-Arroyo regime and call for the ouster of an utterly corrupt, liar and tyrannical president. More and more people are joining the ranks of the revolutionary forces and the New People's Army, taking up arms and waging people's war against an unjust and cruel state and system currently presided over by the US-Arroyo regime.
Uphold human rights!
Make the US-Arroyo Regime pay for its crimes against humanity!
Oust Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo!