Free Our Sisters, Free Ourselves!
(Revised Update: 25 May 2006)
The headlines in Manila’s most circulated broadsheet read:
May 12 – Two More Leftists Shot Dead
May 13 – Batasan 5 Charged Again
May 15 – 93rd Leftist Leader Killed
May 23 – Government Must Answer for All Killings – CHR
(Pattern of complaints … shows members of the Armed Forces and the Police as suspects.)
May 24 – Killings Alarm International Group (Amnesty International)
A total of 601 have been victims of political killings from the time Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed the Philippine presidency in 2001 up to May 20, 2006 according to Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights). Of this number, 258 belonged to cause-oriented organizations and the rest were civilians who had been accused of being active in or supporting the people’s democratic movement. Bayan Muna (The People First) partylist is the hardest hit with 94 of its members killed by elements from the military, police, para-military units or hired killers. The Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) partylist has lost 21 of its coordinators and members. A total of 68 women have been summarily executed, 35 of whom were organized mostly under GABRIELA, the alliance, with three from the Gabriela Women’s Partylist (GWP). The killings are part of its Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL), a national program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines with full knowledge and approval of its Commander-in-Chief Gloria Arroyo. It includes those from the democratic movement as targets for assassination and summary execution. In 2006 alone, there are already 70 victims of the military’s summary execution.
Political persecution continues as Arroyo’s vengeance against her critics. “One week after being rebuffed by a Makati judge, the Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday (May 12) filed new rebellion charges against the “Batasan 5” lawmakers and 41 others.” (PDI 13 May 2006) The Batasan 5 stepped out of the protective custody of the Philippine House of representatives without the threat of arrest on May 8. It was an occasion for rejoicing for the people’s representatives and their supporters after the judge granted defense’s motion to strike out the amended information which would have added 46 individuals to the two already charged with rebellion. In effect there was no case against them.
But after frustrating DOJ’s attempt to secure warrants of arrest, said judge was slapped by the DOJ with a motion to inhibit herself, which she did. The case was raffled off to another judge on May 15. It is now a long wait for the judge’s ruling which can either be an issuance of warrants of arrest, grant of bail because the evidence is not strong enough or dismissal due to insufficiency of evidence, depending on how fairly and independently the judge will act.
It will be recalled that after the Presidential Proclamation 1017 declared “a state of national emergency”, three trumped-up cases of rebellion, which has been made a non-bailable charge, were filed against 51 persons which included the “Batasan 6” parliamentarians: Crispin Beltran who was arbitrarily arrested and is now in the custody of the Philippine National Police while confined in the Philippine Heart Center for hypertension; Liza Maza of the Gabriela Women’s Party; Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casino and Joel Virador of Bayan Muna; and Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis who is also the chairperson of KMP (Peasant Movement in the Philippines).
Leaders of the democratic movement in the Philippines are also among those charged with rebellion: Tita Lubi, founding Vice-Chair of the Gabriela Women’s Party and a member of the Program & Management Committee of the APWLD (Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development); Nathanael Santiago, Secretary General of Bayan Muna; Vicente Ladlad also of Bayan Muna and a member of the Board of Trustees of Selda, an organization of former political prisoners; Rafael Baylosis of KMU (May 1st Movement) and Randal Echanis of KMP, who are also with the Anakpawis partylist; and Rey Claro Casambre, Executive Director of the Philippine Peace Center.
Implicated in the preposterous testimony of a military agent turned perjured witness are Dr. Carol Araullo, chairperson of Bayan (New Patriotic Alliance); Emmi de Jesus, Secretary General of GABRIELA; Rita Baua, Bayan’s International Relations Officer; Ruth Cervantes of Karapatan whose husband is BM’s Rep. Teddy Casino; Judge Romeo T. Capulong, UN Judge ad Litem who heads the panel of lawyers for Batasan 6; Danilo Ramos, Secretary General of KMP; Joel Maglungsod, Secretary General of KMU; and Renato Reyes, Secretary General of Bayan. Included in a Mindanao list are Luz Ilagan, Chair of the Gabriela Women’s Party, and two young Moro women, Amirah Lidasan and Zainab Ampatuan, from the Moro-Christian Peoples’ Alliance and Suara Bangsa Moro partylist.
We call on everyone defending human rights, upholding civil liberties and working for fundamental changes in our society to continue to support the women and men being persecuted by the illegitimate, corrupt, puppet and fascist US-Arroyo regime. Let us call for a stop to the killings and political persecution. Let us call for the ouster of the new dictator, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.