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Mensahe ng Pakikiisa
Kumperensya laban sa Pampulitikang Panunupil at Terorismo ng Estado ng Bayan Muna-Timog Katagalugan
Rep. Satur C. Ocampo
Presidente, Bayan Muna
Setyembre 19, 2002
PIC, Taft Avenue, Manila
Mainit na pagbati ng pakikiisa sa mga kasama at kapanalig natin sa Timog Katagalugan!
Napapanahon ang kumperensyang ito ukol sa pampulitikang panunupil at terorismo ng estado dala na rin ng matinding pananalasa sa batayang karapatang pantao, sibil at pulitikal na umiiral sa kasalukuyan.
Dalawang araw mula ngayon, gugunitain natin ang ika-31 taon mula ng ideklara ang malagim na Batas Militar sa ating bansa. Sa ngayon, nakikita ang muling panunumbalik nito sa anyo ng pampulitikang panunupil at hayagang paglabag sa karapatang pantao.
Ang dalawang mukha ng pampulitikang panunupil, sa partikular, ay nakikita sa tahasang pagkitil ng buhay ng mga aktibista at progresibo; at sa sustinidong black propaganda na ginagawa laban sa ating partido sa pagtatangkang direktang i-ugnay ito sa armadong kilusang rebolusyonaryo.
Sa pagitan ng dalawang anyong ito ay ang tuloy-tuloy na pananakot, pagbabanta at iba pang anyo ng paninira at pagpilay sa ating partido. Malinaw na ang layunin ng mga ito ay ang pagsira sa atin sa eleksyong 2004. Higit pa rito, malinaw na bahagi ang mga atakeng ito ng pagpapatahimik sa mga kritiko ng kasalukuyang pamahalaan at sa imperyalistang interes ng Estados Unidos.
Sa tala na rin ng Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace (EMJP) may 1, 334 kaso ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao na naitala mula sa pag-upo ni Gng. Macapagal-Arroyo sa pamunuan noong Enero 22, 2001 hanggang Hulyo 15 ng taong kasalukuyan.
Kabilang na rito ang 27 kasapi ng Bayan Muna na pinaslang, kung saan labing-siyam (19) dito ay mula sa Timog Katagalugan. Sa pagtalaga ng maraming batalyon ng mga sundalo at patuloy na kaso ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao ng mga sibiliyan, mistulang isang laboratoryo ng programang counter-insurgency ng pamahalaan ang naturang rehiyon.
Sa Kongreso, niluluto na ang mapanupil na Anti-Terrorism Bill na magbibigay ng legal na salalayan sa terorismo ng estado. Asahan ninyo ang mariing pagtutol at paglalantad sa isyu ng inyong mga kinatawan sa Bayan Muna kaugnay nito. Masusi rin ang ating pagbabantay sa iba pang kontra-mamamayang panukalang ginagawa sa Kongreso.
Asahan rin ninyo ang pagpupursige natin na ituloy ang nasimulan ng pagdinig sa House Committee on Civil, Political and Human Rights ukol sa paglabag sa mga karapatang pantao laban sa ating partido. Kaugnay nito, pagbati ang akin na ring ipinaaabot sa mga magiting nating mga kasama, kabilang na ang batang si Adeliza Albarillo, na buong tapang na tumestigo sa naturang hearing.
Kapit-bisig at buong loob nating sagkaan at hadlangan ang patuloy na mga atakeng ito. Nasa ating pagbibigkis tungo sa iisang mithiin na magkaroon na tunay na panlipunang pagbabago nakasalalay ang ating lakas.
Kayong mga kasama at kapanalig sa Timog Katagalugan ay hindi matatawaran ang determinasyon na isulong ang ating mga adhikain. Kaisa at kasabay ninyo ako sa bawat hakbang patungo rito. Mabuhay kayo!
Notes on International and National Human Rights Situation for the Northern Luzon Human Rights and Peace Conference
Rep. Satur C. Ocampo
President, Bayan Muna
September 19, 2002
Magandang araw. Isang karangalan sa akin na maging bahagi ng mahalagang kumperensyang ito ukol sa karapatang pantao at usaping pangkapayapaan. This conference comes in between two grand historic events in history: the first being a reminder of the people’s assertion of national sovereignty; the other a grim reminder that we must never again allow our rights and freedom to be trampled upon.
On September 16, 1991, the Filipino people made the historic decision of booting out the US military bases from the country. Eleven years later, US military forces have found their way back to Philippine soil, no thanks to the US-led borderless war on terrorism and the acquiescence of the Macapagal-Arroyo government to the hegemonic designs of its imperialist master.
Two days from now, on September 21, we also mark the 31st year of martial law declaration in the country. But three decades and four changes of presidents later, the victims of the dark dictatorial Marcos regime still cry out for justice. The Bayan Muna bill seeking compensation for victims of human rights violations during the Marcos years is still pending on plenary level in the Lower House.
Today, the so-called war on terrorism waged by the United States is taking shape on our own shores. But first, let us examine this US drive.
War on Terrorism
After the September 11 attacks, the US has taken an extremely aggressive stance on all fronts. 9-11 served as the launching pad for the US? re-assertion of its might as global cop. Using the banner of war against terrorism, the US has launched a unilateral war against its perceived enemies, where US allies are expected to follow suit. Either that or be deemed by the US as pro-terrorism.
The US needs war to fuel its economy and maintain its global politico-military might. It uses war to generate its military-industrial complex in terms of job generation, arms and supplies production, and the like. After Afghanistan, the US is bent on attacking Iraq as part of its pre-emptive strike policy. The US maintains that Iraq, which it dubbed earlier as among the axis of evil, has ?weapons of mass destruction.?
Shortly after the attacks, some 1,200 people were arrested and detained on mere suspicion that they were terrorists. They were held without charges, and denied access to counsel and their families. Some were never charged and tried in court, but detained nonetheless. Targets of these arbitrary detention were mostly immigrants of Middle East, Latin, and Asian stock. Over 600 remained detained to this day.
The US Congress also passed so-called anti-terrorism legislations, foremost of which was the USA Patriot Act of 2001. Other executive orders and administrative regulations issued include the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)? provision of indefinite detention without charges following warrantless arrest; the Bureau of Prisons? rule allowing spying on prisoners? confidential attorney-client communications; freezing of assets of suspected terrorists; use of military tribunals to try non-citizens accused of terrorism; and expansion of power to detain immigrants and conduct surveillance activities.
The US has identified over 30 organizations throughout the world as foreign terrorist organizations or FTOs. These includes the Abu Sayyaf Group and only recently, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). The inclusion of the CPP in the FTO list came days after US State Secretary Colin Powell’s visit to Manila last August. The Arroyo government, not surprisingly, welcomed the US tag.
Interestingly, the US defines FTOs, among others, as foreign organizations engaging in terrorist activities ? these being activities that threaten US national security and its nationals.
The US deems itself as the lone country on high moral ground to wage wars. All others are terrorists. So who are the terrorists? They are simply what the US says them to be.
Rejecting the ICC
While paying lip service to the ideals of justice and democracy, the US has taken a strong arrogant stance against the ratification of International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC is a permanent independent judicial body that will try crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes and aggression. The Rome Statute which creates the ICC was signed in 1998 by 120 countries. The Philippines was among its first signatories.
Former US President Bill Clinton signed the treaty but did not transmit it to the US Senate for ratification. Under Bush, the treaty was ‘unsigned’, so to speak, and rejected.
Last July 30, the ICC came into being after the 60 required ratifications were met. Over 70 countries have ratified the ICC. The US has actively worked against its ratification, saying that its military forces deployed in various countries could be the subject for trial.
What it has done instead, is enter into bilateral agreements seeking exemption for the trial of American nationals in different countries. More importantly, the US has recently passed a law imposing sanctions on countries party to the ICC by withdrawing foreign military assistance.
Curiously, the said US law exempts NATO member countries and nine other countries. But the Philippines, despite its servile support to the US, is not included in the exemption list. This is why the DND and the Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security have recommended the Philippine’s non-ratification of the treaty. The defense department is aping the US’ lame, double-standard excuse that military and police forces could be the subject of harassment suits by human rights organizations.
In Congress, we are set to file a resolution urging the President to sign the treaty and transmit the matter to the Senate for ratification. Eleven solons have so far co-authored this. I will also deliver a privilege speech on this issue when Congress resumes on September 30.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo prides herself as among the first world leaders to declare full support for Bush’ war on terrorism. Ms Arroyo cannot pat herself on the back quite enough when she said in her State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July, and I quote:
“As a result of our decisive action after September 11, the Philippines is now a recognized player in world affairs. The President of the Philippines was the first head of government to emphasize the interconnection between the war against terrorism and the war against poverty?We have gained powerful allies in our domestic war against terrorism.”
It was the November 2001 US visit of President Arroyo that started the ball rolling for renewed RP-US relations in the context of the war on terrorism. The US pledged a full military assistance package amounting to $100 M in exchange for the subsequent return of troops in the country under the guise of so-called joint-military training exercises; use of our air skies and sea ports as staging and transit points for the war against Afghanistan; and, if not for strong public opinion against it, the signing of the dubious Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA).
The recently-concluded Balikatan 02-1 exercises failed in its declared objective of crushing the Abu Sayyaf, but succeeded in re-gaining entry of US forces into the country. The said exercises are set to resume in next month. Meanwhile, the President has again allowed the use of our air skies and sea ports for the US? impending attack against Iraq.
Human Rights under GMA
These events provide further rationale for the government?s intense drive to hunt down so-called terrorists. Criminals, bandit groups, secessionist groups and underground revolutionary organizations have all been lumped into this category.
But, in reality, it is political dissenters critical of the government that are the main target of this.
The Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace reports 1,334 cases of human rights violations from the time President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo assumed power on January 22, 2001 until July 15, 2002. There are 37,164 victims, including 148 individual killed.
Even the party-list I represent in Congress and of which I am president, as you may know, has been the target of intensifying attacks ranging from outright killings to black propaganda. To date, 27 of our members and supporters at the grassroots level have been killed. Some of them were executed brutally and treacherously. Fifteen cases occurred at Mindoro Oriental which is fast serving as a counterinsurgency laboratory of government by means of the 204th Infantry Battalion.
Here in Northern Luzon, among the Bayan Muna fatalities are Peter Dangiwan who was killed on April 30, 2001 and Warlito Nagasao who was killed in March 2002. Samantalang noong mga panahong ding iyon, si Dante Bitagun, isa rin naming coordinator, ay dinukot, tinortyur at kinulong ng mga pinaghihinalaang intelligence agents ng military sa loob pitong (7) araw. Noong Pebrero naman ay ni-ransack ang mga kagamitan sa loob ng ng opisina namin dito noong Pebrero 2 ng taon ito.
Hindi na rin lingid sa kaalaman ninyo na makailang ulit na rin kami sa Bayan Muna na naparatangang ‘komunista’ ng mismong Pangulong Arroyo. Kung kaya’t hindi na rin nakapagtataka na kahit opisyal ng military katulad ni Col. Palparan ng 204th IB ng Mindoro ay tahasang pinaratangan na ang Bayan Muna, sampu ng iba pang kaalyado nitong mga organisasyon, ay prente ng CPP.
Intense black propaganda–chiefly through the military and its stooge organizations such as the dubious National Alliance for Democracy– is being employed against Bayan Muna and other militant organizations in a clear drive to discredit us. Their tack has been to directly and maliciously link legal, democratic organizations to underground revolutionary organizations.
Only recently, we discovered that the AFP website posted NAD articles and paid advertisements directly attacking Bayan Muna and myself. One statement was even identical to one of NAD’s statements but had no attribution to it. The military has denied having anything to do with NAD, but all indications prove otherwise. We will, in time, file appropriate charges against these.
In Davao City, no less than our fourth party-list nominee and our vice-president for Mindanao have been harassed and slapped with spurious rebellion charges by the military. In Cebu City, an army commander had the gall to say that they will shoot on sight members of Bayan and Karapatan upon entrance to their camp. Branding said militants as ‘enemies’, the said officer has denied access of these groups to suspected rebels that have been allegedly illegally arrested.
In Sulu, dubbed as next site of the second Balikatan exercises, 15 battalions have been deployed. Karapatan reports cite massive human rights violations due to constant aerial bombardments and artillery bombings in civilian communities.
The situation in Basilan is no different. Over a hundred people have been illegally arrested and detained in line with the July 13, 2001 DOJ memo authorizing warrantless arrests in the area. We had the opportunity to talk with some of these detainees during our International Solidarity Mission, and all believe that the motive for their arrest was simply the bounty money offered for the capture of ASG bandits. They also said–and it is sad to note–that they became instant ASG suspects because they were Muslims.
The situation here in Northern Luzon, which I am certain you know better than I do, underscores the intense drive by armed agents of the state. CAFGU recruitment has been intensified to protect big business interests, such as the Corn and Cassava Plantation Project in Isabela. There are also reports of military and CAFGU units using children as shields when taking a bath in communities. Meanwhile, three suspected NPA rebels, all hors de combat, were summarily executed in broad daylight in full view of horrified residents in Quirino.
Indigenous peoples, as in the case of the Banwaons in Agusan, Mindanao are forcibly recruited as CAFGUs. Even a notorious tribal leader has been used by the 36th IB to sow fear among his fellow lumads.
In Congress, the anti-terrorism bill–similar to the USA Patriot Act–is in the works. Government is hard pressed to imitate the Bush administration that it needs to come out with a legislation that will define terrorism and penalize it. To this day, there is no definition of terrorism but the administration has gone on to make ‘terrorists’ synonymous with ‘dissenters.’
Not surprisingly, peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front are on a standstill, following government’s support for the US’ terrorist tag of the CPP and its insistence of a framework amounting to the NDF’s capitulation.
The twin issues of human rights and the pursuit of genuine, lasting peace are founded on the people’s determined struggle to assert their rights and strive for fundamental reforms in society.
These become even more important in the context of the US’ mad drive to wage wars against its perceived enemies, and the Philippine government’s total, unconditional support for this.
In the near future, we can expect government to further heighten its drive to silence dissenters. There is need, all the more, for democratic and progressive sectors of society to forge a broad alliance that will advance the integral issues of national sovereignty and integrity, human rights, and genuine peace. Thank you.