International tribunal gives Pinoys a chance at attaining justice against Arroyo

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism posted on its blog a short feature on the Permanent People’s Tribunal and its Second Session on the Philippines that has accepted a petition from Philippine organizations for the court to try President Arroyo and other entities for wholesale violations of the Algiers Declaration.

The PPT opened its second session on the Philippines in simple ceremonies in The Hague recently. Parallel activities were also held in Manila to enable the petitioners – families of victims of extrajudicial slays, peasants brutalized by economic policies violative of social and economic rights, among many others – to witness this historic event.

Historic, because the PPT will be the first international tribunal to try Mrs. Arroyo for her many crimes. Here in the country, many parties have attempted to hold her accountable for her many transgressions but the efforts fail not so much because of a lack of evidence but due to the transparent and brazen cover-up by the Arroyo camp. From the congressional canvass to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, to the two impeachment complaints – the Arroyo camp always had one excuse and concocted the most insulting plots just to conceal the serial acts of cheating, stealing, lying and killing of its foes.

Victims of extrajudicial slays and other political killings also look forward and welcome the PPT as the Arroyo government has failed up to now to undertake an independent investigation. All it has done is to unleash whitewashing machines called Task Force Usig and the Melo Commission. These two whitewashing machines have prioritized giving time to the military and police top brass – the heads of the suspected perpetrators and masterminds of the slays – and thus effectively shut the door on any meaningful participation by the victims’ families and witnesses.

Retired Gen. Eduardo Ermita, an expert in psywar and counterinsurgency and current executive secretary of Mrs. Arroyo, was quick to the draw in labeling the PPT as a leftist vehicle, oblivious to the history and role of the tribunal in exposing to the world the many US-backed dictatorships that oppressed and plundered Third World countries since the late 1970s. The PPT’s first session on the Philippines in 1980 became the first juridical body to find the Marcos dictatorship guilty of brutalizing Filipinos and condemned the US and big foreign corporations for propping the fascist regime through military and economic aid.

Arroyo continues to pretend to the world that she’s this country’s legitimate president through her foreign trips and official representation in international bodies. But one good thing that arose from her death squads’ slays of so many activists is that foreign governments and international organizations have expressed outrage over her official (albeit unstated) policy of killing dissidents under the pretext of fighting so-called communist terrorists. Thus, the killings and the refusal to allow an independent probe by United Nations and European Union have exposed Arroyo’s grave culpability for non-adherence to international humanitarian law, the laws of war that prohibit the harming and killing of non-combatants and civilians. She’s a war criminal, using the Geneva Conventions as a yardstick.

One reaction to the PCIJ blog entry on the PPT said that the tribunal’s work may not be needed and averred that the inclusion of President Bush and multinational institutions like the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organization, and multinational companies as respondents along with Arroyo may shoo away prospective supporters.

Shades of colonial mentality are obvious in the reaction, as well as a refusal to acknowledge the reality that Mrs. Arroyo draws her staying power from the sponsorship and encouragement of her foreign masters. Aside from her cabal in Congress and local big business, Mrs. Arroyo serves these foreign masters only too well. And the foreign masters return the favor by expressions of support for her illegitimate regime, continued economic aid inspite of barbaric treatment of dissenters, unimpeded flow of military support inspite of its questionable use for muzzling and killing her foes, etc.

The sad part about this reaction is a seeming refusal to cast a net on the real problem with the de facto presidency: President Arroyo may be unpopular and always at the verge of ouster, but has been kept afloat by her local and foreign sponsors. This sickening political, social and economic reality is not without a material basis. It is but an expression of the rotten system that subjugates the Philippines.

One lesson the nation should learn is that toppling the presidencies Marcos and Estrada may have stopped their plunder and oppression, but not excised the social cancer the breed these malignant rulers and paved the way for the entrenchment of the likes of Arroyo.

The PPT that will try Arroyo should thus be welcomed as a fresh air in a political admosphere dominated by the illegal ruler’s self-serving propaganda and the mainstream opposition’s narrow-minded ploy of capturing power for themselves. The PPT’s existence as well as those of people’s movements should show that there must be a third way, so to speak, and that is one that aims for radical social change to excise the cancers of imperialist plunder, bureaucratic corruption and feudal stranglehold on land and our national wealth.

Failing to go beyond the plain oust-Arroyo analysis will consign us to missing the whole point, and we cannot afford to commit that mistake again.

Photos courtesy of Arkibong Bayan.

Click here for the people’s petition (second appeal to the PPT), here for the initiating organizations, here for news on the PPT’s second session on the Philippines the following for news published by local and international media organizations:

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