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Ending Political Killings In The Philippines

May 6, 2009


Just yesterday this writer blogged about how the Philippines now ranks second to the African nation of Sudan in the number of internally displaced persons, some 600,000, in the face of the independent Norwegian Refugee Council calls “climate changes”.

The term is less a reference to actual change in the weather as it is a reference to how conflicts, civil war, forces civilians to flee conflict zones with the dislocation leaving them homeless and jobless, huddled in evacuation centers.

Now comes an announcement from the government of the day that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is setting aside PhP 25-M “to put an end to political killings.”

The news reports further say: “Political violence has been a scourge of Philippine politics long before our administration. We want to erase the legacy of political violence that has haunted our nation for generations,” Ms Arroyo said.

“I invite lawmakers to contribute P250,000 each from their CDF (Countrywide Development Fund) to build this fund,” she said.

The report goes own to quote Mrs. Attoyo’s ‘little president’, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita as adlibbing that while he had “no personal knowledge” of Ms Arroyo’s announcement but was not surprised by it.

Ermita said the P25-million fund was Ms Arroyo’s “way of expressing seriousness” in putting a stop to political killings adding that “the President also caused the release of P25 million” to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) last year.

“Before I left for Geneva, Switzerland, on April 25 (to attend an international meeting on human rights) there was already talk that political killings under this administration are going high in spite of the fact that we have Task Force Usig, the Melo Commission, and most recently, Task Force 11—all intended to put a stop to these unexplained killings. I can just imagine that the President, conscious of the need to really put a stop to all this, decided that maybe we need more money … for the witness protection program, for prosecution, [and] for follow-up investigation by the police, so nobody can complain that the reason they can’t pursue this is that we lack resources.”

Malacanang’s move to throw money at the problem follows the release of the 2008 report of the non-governmental human right alliance ‘Karapatan’.

Chronicling the appalling state of human rights in the Philippines, the report points out:

“…Philippine government, as represented now by the Arroyo administration, has time and again failed in its boast of promoting the dignity and respecting the rights of Filipinos. Since its assumption to power in January 2001, this regime has been more interested in preserving its political and economic self-interest rather than ensuring the well-being of its people.

Despite repeated claims of eradicating poverty and guaranteeing democracy, the Arroyo government has deprived the people of the country’s resources and unleashed the brutality of its armed forces against those whose lives it has sworn to protect.

Discontent, not surprisingly, has risen among Filipinos due to grinding poverty, corruption and ineffectiveness of government. Those who protest this appalling state of affairs are, however, unjustly branded as terrorists or enemies of the state. They are hunted down and silenced to preserve the rule of those in power.”

The Karapatan report’s tables of statics list the cold statistics illustrating the gravity of the human rights crisis in the Philippines.



Given apparent editorial deadlines, the report is surely work in progress. But one clear emblematic murder that remains unresolved is that of Davao elementary school teacher Rebelyn Pitao whose brutalized lifeless body was dumped by her killers in an irrigational canal.

It is killings such as Rebelyn’s that the government of the day seemingly thinks will be resolved simply by throwing money at it.

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