Between January 2001 to September this year, records from the human rights alliance Karapatan-Southern Tagalog showed 142 extra-judicial killings in the region. Cases of human rights violations have reached 2,280 affecting 9,222 individuals or 13,102 families.
By Dennis Espada
CALAMBA CITY, Laguna – Relatives of slain political activists believe the Melo Commission created by the Arroyo administration to look into politically-motivated slayings shows “no hope for justice” and is but a venue for “whitewashing” government’s accountability.
Last Sept. 14 during the commission’s hearings, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. said that the military’s total war policy did not include political killings. The general blamed the communist-led New People’s Army (NPA) as responsible for the deaths of “843 civilians” under the Arroyo administration since 2001.
He also called party-list lawmakers in Congress, particularly Bayan Muna Reps. Teddy Casino and Satur Ocampo, as “enemies of the state.”
Reacting to the AFP general’s allegations, Arman Arbarillo said “If this is how the military looks at members and leaders of progressive organizations, it reveals the motive they have for attacking our ranks to the extent of killing us.”
Arbarillo is the son of Bayan Muna coordinators Manuela and Expedito Albarillo who were murdered in Mindoro in 2002 during retired Maj. General Jovito Palparan’s stint as commander of the AFP’s 201st Infantry Brigade.
He added: “In the first place, the Commission was appointed by President Arroyo herself…at the start of its investigation, the Commission’s use of members of Task Force Usig to give testimony to the cases even though it did not investigate these cases only proves its inutility to give justice to the victims.”
142 summary executions
Between January 2001 to September this year, records from the human rights alliance Karapatan-Southern Tagalog showed 142 extra-judicial killings in the region. Cases of human rights violations have reached 2,280 affecting 9,222 individuals and 13,102 families. No justice has been rendered on the victims for years despite condemnation by the international community.
Glen Malabanan, secretary-general of Martir ng Bayan-Timog Katagalugan (People’s Martyrs-Southern Tagalog), an alliance of relatives and friends of slain activists, said the government’s disregard to the victims’ rights leave them no other choice but to directly engage in protest actions. She said that justice will not be served simply by relying on the Commission and the filing of cases in courts.
Glen is the daughter of peasant leader Romeo Malabanan who was slain on December 2003 in Bay, Laguna.
A protest march against state repression is being organized by various sectors led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance)-Southern Tagalog chapter from September 17 to 21 and Malabanan ensured their group’s participation.
On the afternoon of Sept. 12, unidentified gunmen shot dead JAM Transit (formerly Tritran Bus Company) worker Nemesio Aquino while the latter was walking out from the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DoLE) Bureau of Labor Relations office in barangay (village) Parian in this city.
Although the victim did not belong to any militant unions in the region, secretary general Luz Baculo of the Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (Pamantik or Solidarity of Workers in Southern Tagalog), said, “The whole labor movement should stay as vigilant as ever in these times of intensifying political repression and killings.”
Baculo also raised alarm on the continued surveillance and liquidation attempts against Romeo Legaspi, union president of Honda Cars Philippines and chairman of the labor federation Organized Labor Association in Line Industries and Agriculture (Olalia). Since the surveillance began last year, Legaspi has not reported to work for fear of liquidation. (Bulatlat.com)