“Medalla de Horror” for BS Aquino’s fourth SONA—Karapatan

Pres. BS Aquino faces the nation on Monday, July 28, with three impeachment cases slapped against him—two for his presidential pork called Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and one for entering into the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States government. All the impeachment cases boil down to BS Aquino’s betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution.

“The DAP is spreading like the plague, hounding the Aquino government, at the expense of the ordinary taxpayers. Now, the executive and legislative branches who benefitted from the DAP act as BS Aquino’s PR machinery in its defense,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

Palabay said that “even the newly installed AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gregorio Catapang shamelessly called on the soldiers to defend DAP, because through DAP the AFP has been pampered with billions of money for its terror campaign against the people. “ The AFP is the chief implementer of the BS Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan, a counterinsurgency program similar to Gloria Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya.

“Such is a case of a people held up by its own government and gunned down by its supposed protector, the AFP. It is using the people’s money against the people. This makes all those who express disgust over the corruption in the government vulnerable to military harassment and other forms of human rights violations,” Palabay warned.

Atrocious human rights record: Aquino’s Medalla de Horror

“This is likely as the four years of the BS Aquino government is marked by human rights violations, his medalla de horror, committed against those opposed to the anti-people policies and programs of the government,” said Palabay.

She cited the 117 peasants killed in defending their right to land against the big time land grabbers that are the big business corporations and plantations; and the 49 indigenous peoples who were victims of extrajudicial killing when they fought for their ancestral lands against foreign big mining corporations and other ‘development’ projects. (See separate table on Civil and Political Rights committed under the Aquino government).

From July 2010 to June 2014, Karapatan recorded 204 people who became victims of extrajudicial killing, and 207 victims of frustrated killing.

“However Aquino blames his predecessor for all his and his regime’s woes, he cannot deny his similarity with Gloria Arroyo in perpetuating corruption and terror. A continuum exists,” Palabay said citing the case of the killing of Gregorio Gelacio on July 19, 2014. Galacio is the father of Grecil Buya, the 9-year old child killed during the Arroyo regime because the military said she was a child combatant.

Galacio sought justice for the killing of his child. In the process, he became a victim himself of military harassment and red tagging. About 10 men surrounded Galacio’s house and shot him. He sustained six gunshot wounds and died on the spot.

Karapatan in earlier statements said the DAP was used directly and indirectly to sow terror among the people through the AFP and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) through projects channelled to paramilitary groups engaged in ‘peace negotiations’ with the government.

Jail the Plunderers, Free all political prisoners

“The DAP controversy also brought to fore the situation of prisoners, including the political detainees, as those initially charged with plunder were sent to ‘special’ detention cells and accorded special privileges such as immediate hospitalization without any court order and special visitation rights, among others,” Palabay added.

She said that the inequality and inconsistency in the government’s attitude between the common crime violators, the political detainees and those accused of plunder started off the call to “jail the plunderers, free all political prisoners.”

There are now 504 political detainees, most of them arrested through trumped up criminal charges. There are 53 who are sick and 42 elderly who deserve to be released on humanitarian ground. “There are also 15 peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) who should not be in jail if only the government is serious in its so-called peace initiatives and sincere in its commitment to implement previously-signed agreements,” Palabay added.

Karapatan said that the inhuman jail condition and the inequality before the law is embodied in the case of Andrea Rosal—arrested when she was seven months pregnant, dumped into a cramped jail, went through the maze of bureaucratic red-tape before she was hospitalized, and eventually lost her two-day old daughter Diona.

Similarly, Miradel Torres, four months pregnant, was arrested for criminal charges. Miradel was diagnosed with threatened abortion. Yet, like Andrea, she was made to travel for hours from Quezon province to Taguig City Jail; and transported back and forth the jail and hospital for check-up, instead of confining her immediately to the hospital. “Like Andrea, and unlike Atty. Gigi Reyes, she needed a court order for her hospitalization.”

Karapatan believes, “The construction of a ‘first-class jail’ for the likes of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla and Reyes adds insult to the injury.” The said ‘first class jail’ is partly funded with DAP funds amounting to Php 20 million.

Palabay said the “paranoia of Aquino on the rising people’s dissent against his government is apparent through his cohorts’ attempts to give him untrammeled political power through emergency powers and the deployment of military and police poised to quell the exercise of free speech and freedoms of assembly in the protests during his SONA.”

“The pork scam, the PDAF and DAP, exposed the filthy governance that BS Aquino tried to cover-up in his earlier years. However, it also brought out the best in our people—the vigilance, the unity, and the will to change the bankrupt system that breeds corruption and exploitation of our people. The impeachment of BS Aquino is definitely just the beginning of the people’s show of unity,” ended Palabay.