|Signs of impunity and desperation|
|Written by Benjie Oliveros|
|Saturday, 28 March 2009 21:39|
Human rights organization Karapatan has raised the alarm over the surge in extrajudicial killings during the first quarter of 2009. A total of 16 extrajudicial killings have been recorded so far, the latest victim was urban poor leader Sabina Ariola, 51, who was shot at during rush hour at 8:25 a.m. when she was about to speak on a public address system on board a truck in busy Sta. Rosa, Laguna. The most shocking case of extrajudicial killing during the first quarter of 2009 was that of Rebelyn Pitao. Who could forget how young teacher Rebelyn Pitao, 21, was violated then brutally murdered just because she was the daughter of New People’s Army (NPA) leader Leoncio Pitao a.k.a Commander Parago?
Karapatan has been raising the alarm since the last quarter of the year because of the surge in extrajudicial killings especially in Southern Mindanao. Now it seems to be spreading across the nation again.
Karapatan believes that the Arroyo government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are intensifying the commission of extrajudicial killings since the last quarter of 2008 in a frantic effort to pursue its impossible dream: the decimation of the NPA by 2010. Impunity is rearing its ugly head again. However, the AFP’s policy of targeting civilians - including a young teacher whose only fault is being the daughter of an NPA leader - reflects not only the impunity of this administration, it also shows its desperation, an ugly one at that.
Meanwhile, despite Malacañang’s repeated denials that it is not involved in the moves at the Lower House to force through the Charter Change (Cha Cha) resolution even without the concurrence of the Senate, the actions of Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, son of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo prove otherwise. Mikey Arroyo is so desperate that he risked approaching former Arroyo ally Jose de Venecia who was ousted from the House Speakership through the maneuverings of the Arroyo brothers, to solicit his support in mustering enough signatures to ram through the Cha Cha resolution. . What is so urgent with the Cha Cha resolution that they are moving heaven and earth to have it passed now? Why can they not wait till after the 2010 elections as advised by some sectors? Why is there a need for it in the first place? But why would De Venecia make up such a story from out of the blue and then retract it afterwards? The impudence of the Arroyo family in pushing for self-serving measures shows that they think they could operate with impunity. It also shows their desperation.
The 2010 elections are drawing near and when the Arroyo government is out of power, the Filipino people would surely demand that it be held accountable for its long list of sins: the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, the corruption scandals, the attacks on civil liberties, the twisting of the justice system for political ends, and the debasement of all institutions of government. The next administration, most probably, would come from the opposition - unless there would be rampant cheating - because of the extreme unpopularity of the Arroyo government. An opposition administration might give in to the people’s clamor for justice. They have been victimized by the demolition jobs the Arroyo government has launched against them, and they might just return the favor.
Last week the Ombudsman, after weeks of being in the center of criticism for not doing its job of investigating corruption scandals - which are numerous under the Arroyo administration - and for, instead, doing a good job at protecting the Arroyo family, finally announced the results of its investigation regarding the corruption in the bidding and awarding of road construction projects, which was revealed in a World Bank report. The Ombudsman recommended the filing of charges against former and current officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways but stopped short of knocking at the doors of Malacañang. The participation of President Arroyo’s husband Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo in the corruption-ridden deals was mentioned by witnesses in the World Bank report, but the Ombudsman chose to ignore it. Mike Arroyo even had the effrontery to declare that he would “clear” his name. This shows that the impunity in corruption still exists and what the Ombudsman has been trying to do is to pin the blame on underlings while desperately shielding Malacañang.
Impunity and desperation in a murderous, corrupt, and undemocratic regime is a dangerous combination. It brings back memories of Martial Law. It would then not be surprising that if the Arroyo government fails in its Cha Cha bid, it would resort to massive cheating during the 2010 elections. Worse, it could declare Martial rule before or after the elections. The only thing that could prevent it from doing so is the militant action of the Filipino people. Bulatlat.com