Before Alston arrived in Manila, Dalmacio "Tatay Daki" Gandinao was shot in his home in Salay town, Misamis Oriental. Tatay Daki was the head of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in that province. While Prof Alston was consulting with the victims of political killings in Manila, Farly Alcantara of the League of Filipino Students in Camarines Norte was also shot dead by motorcycle riding men.
The latest was yesterday, while our group gathered in Davao City to meet Mr.Alston, victims and relatives of those slain, activists and journalists. A journalist from my home province Shariff Kabungsuan, Hernani Pastolero, 64, editor of the weekly paper "Lightning Courier" was killed in front of his house.
These incidents only show the true situation of human rights in the country. Ever since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo began calling the victims and our organizations as "communist fronts" this has become a blanket authority for anyone, including her local allies, to kill all the critics of the government.
I am most elated when Karapatan Secretary-General Marie Hilao-Enriquez invited me to join Karapatan's consultation with Prof. Alston. I was afraid that because he was scheduled to meet the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front, there was no room for Prof. Alston to listen to the human rights situation in Moro communities and to Moro victims of extrajudicial killings.
I tried to brief Prof. Alston about the situation of the Moro people in the light of President Arroyo's militarist policy in dealing with her conflict with the Moro people, such as her "state of lawlessness and lawless violence" and the "hand of steel" against terrorists. However, he told me he was already briefed about the situation by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and from his talks with the MNLF and MILF.
But what information did the AFP give Prof. Alston? It doesn't give me comfort to know he was briefed by the perpetrators of indiscriminate arrests, torture, killings and massacre of Moro civilians. President Arroyo, the military, the police and even some courts treat all those who were killed Mindanao, especially in areas where the Abu Sayyaf operates, as all terrorists, despite the denials of their relatives.
I wonder how the AFP presented the case of Almujayal Padiwan, the 7-year old Tausug kid I interviewed in 2005 who ran away from the hospital in downtown Jolo after the Marines threatened to kill him. His parents and older brother were killed in Kapuk Punggul, Maimbong in Sulu on February 1, 2005. The Southern Command called Almujayal and all the members of his family Abu Sayyaf.
I wonder how the military will answer the question of the families of the Moro inmates massacred in Camp Bagong Diwa on March 15, 2005. It’s been two years after the incident, and a year after the Commission on Human Rights released its report on the culpability of then DILG chief General Angelo Reyes as well as then PNP chief Arturo Lomibao for the carnage. But they have not been charged.
But will the colleagues of Prof. Alston in the United Nation listen to our plea? Will the countries representing the United Nations reprimand our government for their crimes against their people?
President Arroyo has been receiving a pat in the back by the American government for killing terrorists in Mindanao, for "destroying" terrorist cells. She continually receives economic and military aid from the US government, in return for allowing American military presence in the country.
It will be Mrs. Arroyo's word against the word of the hundreds of victims. But the people, especially the victims of her terror tactics, will never bow down to Arroyo. No amount of aid and lies can make the struggling people stop and turn away from their fight for justice. Let all UN Rapporteurs come and hear our situation. Come and hear also how we struggle to end President Arroyo's tyranny. (Amirah Ali Lidasan is the vice chairperson of Suara Bangsamoro, a party-list organization)