International Human Rights Day commemorated with a protest by the human rights alliance, KARAPATAN, and militant organisations after declaration of martial law in the province of Maguindanao, Philippines. Manila, Philippines. 10/12/2009.
The human rights alliance, KARAPATAN, together with organizations of victims of human rights violations and their kin – Desaparecidos, Hustisya (Justice for Victims of Arroyo’s Regime) and SELDA (Society of Ex-Detainees for Liberation and Amnesty), Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN- New Patriotic Alliance), other progressive people’s organizations, and civil libertarians, marched to Mendiola Bridge today and called for the end of impunity, and the ousting of of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, in this year’s commemoration of International Human Rights Day.
“As people all over the world observe the International Day for Human Rights, the human rights situation in our country is going from bad to worse. Arroyo, after Marcos, has unleashed the most vicious and most brutal counter-insurgency campaign” said Fr. Dionito Cabillas of KARAPATAN.
Mr. Jigs Clamor, deputy secretary general of KARAPATAN, explained that since Arroyo became the president up to end October 2009, counter-insurgency programs called Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL-Oplan Freedom Watch) 1 and 2 have claimed the lives of 1,118 victims of extrajudicial killings, 204 victims of enforced disappearances, 1,026 victims of torture and hundreds of thousands of displaced persons due to mass militarization of both rural and urban areas.” Victims include activists and leaders and members of progressive legal organizations of farmers, workers, women, indigenous peoples and muslims, youth, church people, who were labeled as members of “front organizations of communists” and “enemies of the state”.
“The Arroyo regime’s counter-insurgency policies have encouraged warlordism in the provinces. In its vicious attempt to quell the insurgency by 2010 , paramilitary groups such as CAFGU’s (Civilian Auxiliary force Geographical Units), Civilian Armed Auxiliaries (CAA), and Civilian Volunteer Organizations (CVO’s) were created and armed purportedly to augment the regular state forces in the counter-insurgency campaign. Warlords in the rural areas like the Ampatuan in Maguindannao are coddled and utilized by the regime for its counter-insurgency campaigns thereby creating a private army with which the warlords can advance their political interests” said Mr. Dollente of the Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace.
KARAPATAN also holds the US government, along with the Arroyo regime, equally responsible for these atrocities against the Filipino people as it is the prime imperialist power that supports the arroyo regime economically and militarily. It has sent US troops in the country violating our sovereignty and is an accomplice in the violations of our people’s rights. “The Ampatuan massacre was spawned by the culture of impunity in the country, an incident waiting to happen with the continued implementation of the OBL” they said.
Just recently, Arroyo declared martial law in the province of Maguindanao supposedly to “prevent armed rebellion” and capture the suspects of the massacre that killed 57 individuals. With this, human rights groups vowed to push for the uplifting of martial law in that area, and warned the people to be very vigilant in not allowing the regime to replicate the late dictator Marcos's declaration of Martial law in the whole country.
KARAPATAN reiterates its call to the people not to allow a terrorist president to cling to power. Arroyo’s reign of terror over the country should immediately be ended. She should be held accountable and be immediately prosecuted for her crimes against the people.