The way Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos is being questioned about human rights violations during the rule of his late father, one would think Senator Marcos was the inventor of the gas chamber or some electro-torture device. For his part, he has consistently re-affirmed that torture, disappearances, or murders were never a matter of policy during President Marcos’ time. In fact, the late President was never criminally charged of such acts, much less convicted. But, again, there is a curious slant in media that tries to make it appear that human rights violations were exclusive to the time of Marcos’ rule. MEDIA seems to forget about the human rights violations that continued unabated and actually got worse after Marcos.
American writer and Cory admirer James Ross said in his article last week published in the Inquirer 2/22/11: “In January 1987, police and Marines fired on peasant farmers marching on Mendiola Street toward Malacañang Palace, killing 13 and wounding dozens. President Aquino inexplicably endorsed the armed “vigilante” groups in Mindanao, which already had been implicated in terrible abuses. And my colleague and friend Al Surigao, a fearless human rights lawyer in Cebu, was gunned down in his home by military “assets” on June 24, 1988, just a couple of months after he wrote to me that the military’s threats against him had stopped.” He added: “Despite coup attempts, corruption in high places and a social structure in which wealth equals power, democracy in the Philippines has survived these 25 years. But democratic government is more than periodic elections. It is about having a government that respects basic rights and ensures redress when wrongs are committed.” That was written during the week of the 25th anniversary of People Power (some are calling it “People Poorer”), and as much as Mr. Ross would have wanted things rosier, his lament on what has happened post Marcos is obvious.
The Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, at the time the country’s leading human-rights group, recorded “more than 1.2 million victims of dislocations due to military operations, 135 cases of massacres, 1,064 victims of summary executions, and 20,523 victims of illegal arrest and detention, 816 desaparecidos – the disappeared, or victims of enforced disappearances — during the six years of Cory’s regime.”
According to Cher S Jimenez writing in Asia Times Online, “as of 2007, there is an increasing international awareness of the extrajudicial harassment, torture, disappearances and murder of Filipino civilian non-combatants by the Philippine’s military and police. Since the advent of the “War on Terrorism” in 2001, the people of the Philippines have witnessed the assassinations of more than 850 mainstream journalists and other public figures and the harassment, detention, or torture of untold more.”
And as of December, 2003, the human rights watchdog KARAPATAN had documented “human rights violations against 169,530 individuals, 18,515 families, 71 communities, and 196 households. One person, it said, was being killed every three days under the Macapagal-Arroyo government or a total of 271 persons as of December 2003.”
Internationally, the U.N. special rapporteur on extra-judicial killings, stated that “another victim was added to a grisly death toll of over 800 people since 2001 when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo began her term in office.”
Now, who is to answer for all these documented crimes committed during the years after Marcos? Why the muted voices concerning these? Or, do they wish to just sweep them under the rug and continue to conveniently make Marcos their scapegoat for all that has gone wrong two and a half decades after Cory took power? “Accountability” is a word heard often nowadays but who really means it? Selective accountability is what the oligarchy owned traditional media, broadcast and print, are practicing in their pretense in objectivity and impartiality.
It’s all part of the biggest collective denial in recent history of what the result has been of the promises made 25 years ago at Edsa. But in spite of this attempt at brainwashing, the poor, that make up the vast majority of the population, know they are poorer, bigger in number and go along their daily lives in poorer conditions and with less basic government services to avail of compared to a quarter of a century ago. They also know that corruption has worsened in all levels of government. No amount of repetition in media and propaganda spewed by the Lopez controlled broadcast outlets will change what they have experienced and continue to experience daily. “You can fool all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.” If there were to be an uprising here, I’ll bet it will be ABS-CBN that the people will attack first.