WHEN I come across propaganda, I rarely stray beyond the opening paragraph. I say “rarely” because not every piece of propaganda deserves the trashcan. As with any spoken word or written statement, when the subject is something important, the better policy is to take the statement at face value and conduct one’s own research and draw one’s own conclusions. In short, when reading or listening to propaganda, the best mistake that one can make is to believe every word as gospel truth. Every piece of propaganda has a political agenda and unless one belongs to that breed that will believe anything that has emotional appeal, it is best to reserve one’s opinions until one has a better grasp of the subject matter.
I say this because there are so many Filipinos hooked on condemning extrajudicial killings and holding President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo personally responsible for them.
So, when we hear someone, or a group, or an entire organization or coalition of organizations condemning extrajudicial killings, what is it exactly that they condemn? Is it the killing, per se? Then, why not just condemn murder in general? Or is it only the killing of people known to be active in fighting for human rights? If it were the second instance, is there a reason extrajudicial killings should be considered more reprehensible than generic murder?
The answer to the last question is most probably NO. The insistence on a different term to denote political killings is not because most find them more reprehensible. It is because giving them a political dimension makes it easier to put the blame on the entire administration without the need to go through legal processes. While the commission of murder must be imputed to a specific person or people and their participation established and proven, the entire administration is sought to be held liable for extrajudicial killings committed during its term unless it can show that it did everything humanly possible to end them. In other words, the term “extrajudicial killing” is resorted to when no specific murderers can be named.
IT'S ALL POLITICS AND PROPAGANDA, I TELL YOU!
When is a killing or kidnapping attributable to abuses committed by individual military and policemen and when do they take on political color? Is Mrs. Arroyo liable based of command responsibility? Isn’t that equivalent for holding her responsible for the crimes of every rogue cop and soldier in the country? Isn’t that unjust?
Way I see it, her liability rests on her failure to stop the killings. The chain of command or proof of her knowledge and/or complicity is entirely irrelevant. It isn’t necessary to prove them. It is a simple question of competence. That is why all the frenzied cries and condemnations that make her out as a heartless monster who will stop at nothing to keep her throne are just unnecessary propaganda.
An even more relevant question to ask is why those quick to condemn the President do so as though the buck stops at the door of Malacañang. Does it really stop there? Or are these extrajudicial killings a mere component of the larger antiterror campaign of US President George W. Bush that this administration has vowed to support?
The killings of leftist militants she implies, are either the work of individual military /police officers, OR the fault of George Bush's policy. LOL.
And is it REALLY just a lack of competence on Arroyo's part kung bakit hindi nila ma-solve at mahuli yung mga pumapatay sa mga leftist activists? Arroyo seems to be a strong admirer of Gen. Palparan, his policies, and what he stands for. Is Sassy a strong admirer of Palparan too?
And here's a list (as of Apr. 2005) of lefty groups and media organizations who the government and ISAFP has labeled as "enemies of the state". Thank god hindi kasali ang Manila Standard Today sa listahan!
Related: ISAFP botched this one up.
UPDATE: Seems like Amnesty International doesn't think it's all politics and propaganda
Amnesty International tells RP : Shame on you
Slays traced to state of emergency, war vs Reds
By Norman Bordadora
Last updated 01:59am (Mla time) 08/16/2006
Published on Page A1 of the August 16, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
THE UNABATED killing of leftist activists constitutes a pattern of political executions that should be a source of “deep embarrassment” to the Philippine government, according to Amnesty International (AI).
In a 51-page report released yesterday, the London-based human rights group said the threat of more such murders had intensified this year along with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s declaration of a state of emergency in February, the arrest and threatened arrest of militant party-list lawmakers, and the administration’s all-out war against communist insurgents.
The group raised concerns about “credible reports” that security forces were involved in the killings, or at least tolerated or had knowledge of them.
AI documented a steep increase in the incidence of extrajudicial killings this year, recording 51 cases in the first semester. It pointed out there were 66 such killings in the entire 2005.
“No one deserves to die for their political affiliation. It should be a deep embarrassment to the government that people in the Philippines cannot freely exercise their rights of political expression and association,” said AI’s Southeast Asia researcher Tim Parritt.
In its report that included case studies of the killings and of warrantless arrests, AI listed these key recommendations: Reassertion of respect for human rights; guarantee of the administration of justice; compliance with the human rights agreement in the peace process, and action by other human rights institutions.
That seems about right.
Culture of impunity
In her State of the Nation Address last month, the President said she was condemning the political killings. But she also heaped lavish praise on Major General Jovito Palparan, who has been tagged the “butcher” of leftist activists for the cases of extrajudicial killings and rights abuses in areas where he has been posted.
“The common features in the methodology of the attacks, the leftist profile of the victims and an apparent culture of impunity shielding the perpetrators has led AI to believe that the killings are not an unconnected series of criminal murders, armed robberies or other unlawful killings,” the group said.
“Rather, they constitute a pattern of politically targeted extrajudicial executions taking place within the broader context of a continuing counterinsurgency campaign,” it said.
It cited motorcycle-riding death squads preying on leftist activists as well as cases of militant politicians and activists being labeled as communist cadres.
AI said there was “an increased risk that those responsible for the killings would believe that they had received a signal of official acquiescence for these abuses.”
It cited “repeated credible reports that members of the security forces have been directly involved in the attacks, or else have tolerated, acquiesced to, or been complicit in them.”
It said that as early as 2003, the UN Human Rights Committee called for government action on “the lack of appropriate measures to investigate crimes allegedly committed by state security forces and agents and to prosecute and punish these perpetrators.”
AI called on the Deputy Ombudsman for the military and other law enforcement offices to conduct “prompt, thorough, impartial and effective” inquiries into all complaints of political killings purportedly involving military, police or other security personnel.
I guess it all starts at the top with Arroyo's "War on the Left" and her military's policy of targetting arroyo critics and militant groups.
More on the Amnesty Int'l report from Ellen Tordesillas here and here.
Luis Teodoro comments:
The irony is that there are simple lessons in these wrongful assumptions a less intellectually challenged regime, and a brainier police and military, would have learned from the martial law experience. These are—repeat after me, now—that (1) attacking the very population whose hearts and minds you claim to want to win will win you only a harvest of resentment, hatred and further rebellion, and (2) the only way to compete with community activists is by serving the community rather than slapping residents around.
That the Arroyo regime and its military and police henchmen have not learned lessons so simple only simpletons could fail to absorb them, speaks volumes about its sheer incapacity to understand what drives the poor into rebellion. It also demonstrates how far it will go in its greed for power, wealth and privilege. For in the end and beyond all the rhetoric, greed is what the ongoing destruction of Philippine communities and the entire nation is all about.
UPDATE: Sassy does a rowback.