5 Years Under Arroyo: A New Dictator Rises

Jul. 24, 2006

MANILA — In the five and a half years of the Arroyo regime, state security forces have summarily executed more than 700 civilians and have caused the forcible disappearance of almost 200. Three hundred fifty (350) more survived attacks on their lives. Thousands have been displaced and harassed, hundreds have experienced physical assault in the course of military operations or while exercising their rights to assembly and free speech.

There are 6,578 cases with 388,370 victims of human rights violations in the past five and a half years. This is the findings of the human rights umbrella KARAPATAN that is documenting reports of human rights violations committed by suspected state security forces.

KARAPATAN presented a powerpoint report on its documentation on the human rights cases that was presented at the Kapihan sa Treehouse this morning. The human rights group is slated to come out with their full report after Mrs. Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address next week.

“Killings, disappearances, political persecution and attacks on our civil liberties have been prevailing for five and a years of the GMA regime. Such is the alarming situation of the Philippines under an undeclared state of martial law,” says KARAPATAN Secretary General Marie Hilao-Enriquez.

KARAPATAN said Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is being charged with massive electoral fraud and graft and corruption, has presided over unprecedented extra-judicial killings, political persecution and serious affronts to civil liberties in pursuit of her political survival, making her the next dictator after Ferdinand Marcos.

“Her annihilation campaign can be categorized into three rampant human rights violations: Killings, Disappearances and Political Persecution and Attacks on Civil Liberties,” said the martial law survivor and veteran human rights activist.

KARAPATAN scored the Arroyo regime’s Oplan Bantay Laya, the Arroyo regime’s five-year (2002-2006) “end game strategy” to dismantle the Communist Party of the Philippines, National Democratic Front of the Philippines, New People’s Army and the Mindanao Secessionist Groups, which targeted civilians and has resulted to 710 civilians killed arbitrarily, 301 among them activists belonging to various cause-oriented groups and progressive organizations. It also produced 262,908 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in 221 cases of forcible evacuation, displacement and demolition.

According to KARAPATAN, most of the documented cases show that these IDPs were not caught in the cross-fire but were victims of saturation drives during intense military operations.

As the counter-insurgency program codenamed Oplan Bantay Laya’s (OBL) 2006 deadline draws near, the killings have intensified since 2005. The total number of victims of human rights violations in 2006 constitutes 38% of the total number of victims in the five and a half years under the Arroyo regime.

The human rights group noted that in the three weeks following Arroyo’s June 17, 2006 declaration of an all-out war and a P1 billion increase in the counter-insurgency budget, 10 killings and 15 enforced disappearances occurred a glaring indication of even more killings and abductions to come.

In violation of International Humanitarian Laws (IHL) that it has ratified, the government’s OBL targets legitimate people’s organizations, unions, human rights groups, media groups and even church institutions by tagging them as communist fronts or terrorists with their members being subjected to “target research.”

The rationale, the AFP says, is to “neutralize and destroy the political infrastructure of the CPP-NPA-NDF.”

To quell public outrage and prohibit the development of a people power to oust her illegitimate presidency, Arroyo abused her political powers through the Calibrated Preemptive Response rule and Executive Order 464.

Following her Presidential Proclamation 1017, Arroyo launched a legal offensive against her critics in the political opposition and people’s organizations.

Enriquez said “The state’s legal offensive complements the campaign of vilification and assassination of mass leaders, organizers and personalities of the people’s organization and the intensifying counter-insurgency operations in the country.”

Combined with extrajudicial killings, the legal offensives against the national and local leaders of progressive parties and people’s organizations are more than harassment. They intend to isolate the movement from other sectors of society and form part of a well-planned campaign for the annihilation of the so-called left movement.

Pres. Arroyo, desperate to survive her worst political crisis, is riding on the US-backed counter-insurgency effort to destroy the political opposition and annihilate the Philippine Left. The main targets of her renewed war are the progressive parties and their followers whose triumphant entry into the parliamentary arena in 2001 has been seen as a threat by the military and the traditional ruling elites.

“Pres. Arroyo’s desperate pursuit for political survival has virtually turned her into a new dictator and the nation in a state of undeclared martial law. The only way out of the worsening trend of killings, abductions and other gross human rights is the removal of the Fake President from office,” Enriquez concluded.

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