By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chief Political Consultant
National Democratic Front of the Philippines
This publication, A Look into the Complaints Submitted to the Joint Monitoring Committee, from 4 June 2004 to 31 December 2007, is a factual analysis of the contents of complaint forms filed against the armed forces of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) for alleged violations of human rights. These complaint forms were filed with the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) formed in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
This pamphlet exposes in very concrete terms the blatant lies of the GRP and its agencies, especially Task Force Usig (TFU), regarding the extrajudicial killings of unarmed civilians, as well as the malicious attempts to shift blame for a number of these criminal incidents to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army (NPA) and other revolutionary forces in the NDFP.
Prof. Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions has seen through the false claims of the GRP and the scheme to malign progressive legal activists as “communists” and “enemies of the state” and then to blame the CPP, NPA and other revolutionary forces. Before him,
respected human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and religious institutions like the World Council of Churches and national councils of Christian churches in various countries have called the GRP and its agencies to task for command responsibility and have supported the evidence provided by the families of victims, the surviving victims, Philippine-based people’s organizations, religious institutions and human rights organizations like KARAPATAN and several international fact-finding missions.
In the article, A Conspiracy of State Murders, the pamphlet documents the fact that the overarching rationale for the extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations is the GRP’s counterinsurgency program dubbed Oplan Bantay Laya I and II. It also shows in two instances the complicity of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for having direct knowledge of the atrocities being committed by the military and police in her counterinsurgency program and the attempts to cover these up. No less than Macapagal-Arroyo’s Cabinet Cluster on Internal Security is in charge of the orgy of political killings and kidnappings.
In September 2006, representatives from various GRP agencies, including the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), the GRP Negotiating Panel and Monitoring Committee, the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG), among others, formed a technical working group (TWG) purportedly “to clean up the different lists of incidents/cases of alleged political killings submitted by different groups (covering the period 1 February 2001 to 31 October 2006) for possible similarities, discrepancies, double count or inaccuracies” in order to “provide inputs for an intelligible response to the local and international public regarding allegations against the State”. It came out with its initial report on 20 December 2006.
The TWG made the following absurd conclusions: that there was no pattern in the extrajudicial killings; that most of the victims listed had insufficient information (528 out of 725 in the list of KARAPATAN); that the killings happened only after the NPA declared an escalation in tactical offensives; and that, while 184 incidents involving 240 victims could be classified as “political killings”, only 110 incidents could be deemed valid and, relying on the data of TFU, a number were attributed to the revolutionary movement (including the cases of Sotero Llamas and Victor Olayvar) and only a few to the Armed
Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
In an orchestrated move, simultaneous with the press releases of TFU and the AFP Chief of Staff, spokesman, and regional military commanders, the PNP and AFP began submitting complaints to the JMC against the forces of the NDFP, with 1,373 being submitted in one day on 8 November 2006. The obvious intent was to bloat or inflate the number of incidents against the revolutionary movement with a barrage of nuisance and false complaints that mocked the integrity of the JMC and proved the attitude of impunity by the GRP. Unwittingly, the GRP provided the documentary evidence for the falsity of its claims and for the scheme of perpetrating gross and systematic human rights violations and then scapegoating the revolutionary forces for these.
The articles in this publication are based on the complaint forms themselves. There is no attempt to embellish much less obfuscate the facts and figures as was done by TWG. Surprisingly, the basic conclusions in the articles concur with those independently drawn by Prof. Alston.
One article shows how the general character of the complaints filed by the GRP against the NDFP are tainted with duplicate filings and defective complaints – supported by scanned copies of illustrative complaint forms – or false attributions and outside the coverage of CARHRIHL, among others. In fact, of the 1,791 complaints filed by the GRP, only six (6) could qualify for referral to the NDFP Human Rights Committee.
The pamphlet also contains illustrative examples of the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by the GRP, featuring specific cases as recorded in the complaint forms and complemented by data from reports of international and national fact-finding bodies and missions.
These examples demonstrate the wide range of violations, the systematic pattern, the level not only of the brutality and brazenness but also of the depravity and perversity of the perpetrators.
It is urgently necessary and crucial to expose the lies of the Macapagal-Arroyo regime regarding the extrajudicial killings and disappearances. The denial and distortion of the truth about these criminal acts of the military and police minions of the regime must not be allowed. The sufferings of the victims and their families and their cries for justice should not be obscured or overwhelmed by the fabrication of lies and distortion of the circumstances by the regime.
Without the truth, the path to justice can never be clear; and without justice, there can be no lasting peace. All efforts must be exerted to bring the masterminds and the perpetrators to justice. All attempts by the GRP to obfuscate and bury the issue of extrajudicial killings, disappearances, torture and other grave human rights violations must be thwarted. We hope that this publication will contribute towards the ultimate goal of punishing a brutal regime for all the cold-blooded horrors it has unleashed against the Filipino people.
Finally, the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, along with the rapid deterioration of the over-all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in the country continue to be among the most compelling reasons to demand the ouster of the incumbent regime and its illegitimate head. The debunking of the lies of the GRP and the military on the issue of the killings and other human rights violations is in consonance with the
calls for the ending of the extremely oppressive and corrupt Macapagal-Arroyo regime. Soon enough, this regime will have to pay for its crimes against the Filipino people. Only thus can there be hope for the fruitful resumption of formal talks in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.