Last night, acclaimed writer and online friend Ninotchka Rosca, Dr. Annalisa Enrile and Judith Mirkinson — all leaders of the Gabriela Network USA and now known as the Gabnet 3 — successfully boarded their plane after being waylaid by a stupid watchlist put up by the Arroyo government.
The scores of Gabriela leaders and members were ecstatic over the happy ending to this ill-fated harassment attempt against the women activists which began August 5 when Dr. Enrile was stopped from boarding her return flight to the US. I could just imagine the relief the Gabnet 3 felt when their planes were on the runway preparing to fly away from Manila.
The Gabnet 3 saga is an example of how the Human Security Act or the Anti-Terrorism Law may be used to terrorize innocent civilians. The HSA was used as basis for the watchlist of 500 persons, including the three women activists, which was drawn up on the recommendations of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and on orders of Justice Sec. Raul Gonzalez.
Confronted by the three feisty women, two human rights lawyers (Alnie Foja and Edre Olalia) and Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza, an immigration official admitted that they were on the watchlist because of suspicions that they were linked to the Taleban! Yes, the Taleban!
Just how the NICA and the Anti-Terrorism Council/Task Force composed of several agencies including the DOJ arrived at this finding of Taleban links of the Gabnet 3, only these horrible pricks know.
Who are these women the Arroyo government has linked to Taleban:
Ninotchka Rosca, an acclaimed contemporary writer and novelist, who has long been based in the US and a fierce critic of the Arroyo government’s rising fascism — spurred most probably by her being part of the anti-Marcos resistance. In her own words: “I have gone to many countries without any problems but right here in my own country, this terrible thing is being done against me. This is the way tyrants treat writers and artists because they do not wish us to inspire Filipinos to see the truth, to be critical, to be disobedient of illegitimate authority, to question and right wrongs.”
I would have expected the government to argue that Rosca co-authored a book with revolutionary communist leader Jose Maria Sison — but no. She had to be linked with the Taleban. Told about this, Rosca reportedly retorted: “I do not even like that group!”
Judith Mirkinson is a mainstay of the US solidarity movement with the Philippines. She has been here in the Philippines countless times, joining missions to investigate barbaric treatment of activists, human rights violations, and US military intervention in our internal affairs. She is the international relations officer of Gabnet USA.
Dr. Annalisa Enrile teaches at the University of South California’s School of Social Work. She’s the chair of Gabnet USA. A clinical professor at the USC School of Social Work, Enrile has taught in the areas of community practice for social change, theory and ideology, and women and social movements. In 2006, she traveled to the Philippines with 23 master’s degree students from the USC School of Social Works for the first-ever Feminist Theory, Social Action and Social Work seminar. The goal of the trip was to learn from the community and engage in community action projects.
The scum in the Philippine government, headed by the supreme scum herself, cannot by any chance compete with these three women’s credibility as champions of Filipino women and the Filipino people.
Lawyers Edre Olalia and Alnie Foja who accompanied the Gabnet 3 at the airport last night observed that the BID documents on the watchlist and the lifting thereof were of poor taste. Poor tyrannical taste, that is. They said there is absolutely no basis for the DOJ and the BID to do that to the 500 persons placed on the watchlist especially when there are no pending case against them in any court, and that there is no expressed authority from any court for the placement of the same 500 names in such a sweeping watchlist.
Kapag napagdiskitahan ka ng gobyernong ito, lagot ka. Ilalagay ka sa watchlist at sasabihing may konek ka sa Taleban. Lagot ka.
What made the government lift the arbitrary order? Righteous and indignant protests from the three women’s friends, co-workers, and supporters. If this issue reached the courts, it would have been a monumental slap on the faces of Arroyo government officials. It would have been a test-case on the dangerous HSA.
And so we must continue to be vigilant and be inspired by the Gabnet 3. They stood up, fought for their rights, faced down their tormentors and laughed all the way out of Manila, with the government itself providing them ammunition on what we Filipinos sometimes take lightly but the whole world is always incensed to know:
The Arroyo government has gone nuts and using “counter-terrorism” to violate human rights of critics and diseenters.
Photo courtesy of Arkibong Bayan: (From left) Rep. Maza, Dr. Enrile, Rosca, Mirkinson, Gabriela leader Lana Linaban and Bayan International Officer Rita Baua display protest placards in a presscon in Quezon City on August 11.