Friday, May 19, 2006

Fake president faking concern over unsolved killings

Fake president faking concern over unsolved killings
State policy of execution and persecution exists nationwide
There exists a nationwide state policy of execution and persecution – and that is the reason for all these killings, enforced disappearances and political persecution of so-called leftist leaders.

We, human rights advocates and defenders, can see through this ploy and we know that the fake president is faking its concern over the unsolved killings. She waited for the body count to reach more than 500 before she ordered an investigation. Her belated order for a probe came in time with its newly acquired but undeserved position in the UN Human Rights Council.

Worse, the GMA regime's generals and cabinet officials have already exculpated the regime by resurrecting the "red purges" issue before any real investigation starts.

In all of KARAPATAN's dealings with survivors and families of victims, not one alleged or even hinted at other armed groups to be the perpetrators. In fact, the families, survivors and colleagues of victims have a strong suspicion that the military and their death squads are responsible for these atrocities because:

1. The military, police and their agents have been identified, as in the case of survivors Emmylou Buñi and husband Brylle Cruz, KARAPATAN-Central Visayas staff and Bayan Muna organizer, respectively. On 24 November 2005, soldiers staying at the resort of Tuburan Councilor Roy Tabotabo fired at the couple. The shot missed Brylle but hit Emmylou on the chest; it was fortunate that Emmylou survived this attempt on her life. Tabotabo's caretaker, Ritchel Buhawi fled with the soldiers after the incident. Chief Insp. Crisanto Duque did not conduct serious investigation and failed to trace the whereabouts of Buhawi. The couple filed a court case against the alleged gunman Ricky Lao and two more intelligence agents of the 78th IB under the command of Lt. Col. Jessie Alvarez.

In the case of another survivor Gerardo Cristobal, a union leader who was able to defend himself from his assassin, the removal of the ski mask from one of the suspects revealed him as police officer, SPO1 Romeo Lara.

2. There was a threat, intimidation and a vilification campaign against the victim before he/she is killed. Before they are killed or disappeared, the victims are first harassed and accused of being an `activist by day, NPA by night.' The same argument is used to justify the killing and for not immediately investigating the case. The organizations they belong to are listed in the "Knowing the Enemy" CD and "Trinity of War book" of the AFP as communist fronts.

In the case of Ofelia "Perla" Rodriguez, family members said Perla was invited to go to a military camp several times for questioning in 2005 where she was being forced by a certain 2nd Lt. John Paul Nicolas to admit that she was a top-ranking NPA-leader. On January 6, 2006, Perla was shot on the head inside her home in Mexico, Pampanga, in plain view of her mother. There can be no other suspect whom the family can pinpoint in this instance but this military man who kept on festering Perla Rodriguez.

Now, the tag of being members of so-called communist fronts are again being used to blame the victim and evade state responsibility, thus the military theory of CPP purges.

3. A detachment was very near the area when the killings happened but there was no response from the supposed 'protectors of the people.' An example of this is the Ricardo Ramos slay case, where there are also circumstantial evidences such as soldiers looking for Ricardo before he was shot dead and the soldiers in the detachment abandoning their post after the incident.

4. In many of these killings perpetrators are motorcycle-riding men, usually wearing bonnets or ski masks.

KARAPATAN and the families of victims have long been calling for an investigation and a policy statement from Mrs. Arroyo that her administration will not tolerate extra-judicial killings and that the Oplan Bantay Laya, which targets civilians, will be abandoned but the order for a probe came belatedly, after 584 civilians have already been killed.

Until she does that and until the killings, enforced disappearances, among other atrocities have stopped, we call on the public to remain vigilant and not to be cowed. On May 20, we invite the media and the public to join families of victims of political persecution and execution on May 20, 2006 at the Sta. Cruz Church in Manila , 10:30AM.

Stop the killings! Stop political persecution!
Uphold human rights!
Human rights violators must be punished!

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