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Is Political Dissent Criminal?

May 10, 2009

Extrajudicial Killings

Extrajudicial Killings

The Philippines’ human right situation, more specifically the continuation of politically motivated extra judicial  killings under the spectre of state-sponsored terrorism will come before the upcoming 1th session of the UN Human Rights Council on June 2-18.

There is a new report from UN human rights Special Rapporteur Philip Alston that points to the failure of the Arroyo regime to  institutionalize reforms he recommended two years ago.

Alston has a chilling new observation: that Pres. Arroyo’s recent statement for the Armed Forces to end the insurgency “once and for all” by 2010 remains the justification of military officials in tagging political and civil society organizations as fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).

http://lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/Session1/PH/DIA_PHL_UPR_S1_2008_Diakonie_uprsubmision.pdf

Opposite Poles: Philip Alston and Jovito PalParan

Opposite Poles: Philip Alston and Jovito PalParan

A further observation by Alston that is alarming is about how “political dissent is being criminalized,” as embodied in the Philippine Human Security Act which was enacted last year.

The report notes how  “the Human Security Act (HSA) is one of the most incoherent, disorganized and disjointed laws our Congress has ever passed. (…) The law has no discernible structure, no headings or subheadings, and no groupings of sections. Provisions follow one another without logical connection (…).” Regarding prosecution of security forces involved in human rights violations, NGOs fear the law will serve as a pretext to justify the criminalization of political dissent.”

Alston also notes the “rise in killings ascribed to the Davao Death Squad, and the failure of the local and national governments to end the culture of impunity.”

He says Ms Arroyo should be more transparent on what “concrete steps have or have not been taken” by her administration and the AFP to end measures in the counterinsurgency campaign that had led to the execution of civilians.
“Moreover, forced disappearances and illegal detentions remain all too common, as does the bringing of trumped-up charges against Filipino activists and human rights abuse victims,” the United Nations Special Rapporteur says.

Contrary to Alston’s recommendation, the government has yet to abolish the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group.

Alston said the group’s main purpose was to prosecute members of the CPP, “many of whom will not be reachable by legal processes.”

“The temptation to execute such individuals thus remains,” he said.
Alston’s broad –sweeping report does credit the Arroyo government for actions that “partially implemented” his recommendation, and fairly castigates the Communist Party of the Philippines, the National Democratic Front, and the New People’s Army A as having , had failed to stop its own killing of civilians with purported “blood debts” or “accountabilities to the people.”

Reading through the Alston report one cringes distressfully at the thought that the both the Philippine State and its enemies are exacting a huge bloody toll on the very people they all claim to serve and protect.

If these entities are indeed our friends can there be worse enemies???

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. jcc34 permalink
    May 10, 2009 11:52 pm

    “culture of impunity”, culture of lawlessness, culture of poverty, culture of corruption. everything is cultural..

    • May 11, 2009 3:36 am

      Such a situation can surely engender despair, jcc. But being cognizant of the landscape, understanding it should take us one step closer to be empowered, to work at making things right.

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