Full text: Rep. Satur Ocampo on GMA’s role in political killings and abductions

THE EXTRA JUDICIAL KILLINGS AND ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES OF ACTIVISTS UNDER THE GMA ADMINISTRATION ARE CONSTITUTIVE OF THREE (3) CONSTITUTIONAL GROUNDS TO IMPEACH PRESIDENT GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO

Presented by Satur C. Ocampo
Bayan Muna Representative and
Deputy Minority Leader

To the Committee on Justice
House of Representatives
Nov. 24, 2008

I. OPENING STATEMENT

Esteemed Members of the Committee on Justice, let us hearken to the complaint of the Filipino people charging respondent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of having committed three impeachable offenses – first, culpable violations of the Constitution; second, high crimes; and third, betrayal of public trust for being criminally, civilly, administratively, and publicly liable for the extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and other violations of the constitutional rights of hundreds of militant activists.

Respondent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is criminally, civilly, administratively, and publicly liable for the extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and other violations of the constitutional rights of the people hundreds of militant activists due to her following acts and omissions:

First, by approving extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, illegal arrests, and torture of activists in legal organizations members of organizations critical of, or opposing her government polices and programs as main components of her government’s counter-insurgency program – the Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) I and II, she is directly responsible, as principal, as a principal by inducement, for the deaths, kidnappings, and arbitrary arrests and detentions of hundreds of political dissenters, as well the violation of the victim’s other constitutional rights.

Second, by failing to prosecute, despite due and ample notice, the perpetrators of the human rights violators from the military and the police, specifically retired Major General Palparan who has been singled out in the Melo Commission report, and thereby allowing the impunity with which the systematic and gross violations of the constitutional rights of the victims have been violated, she is guilty of nonfeasance and dereliction of duty in the death of hundreds of activists. Both these actions are violations of or offenses under the Constitution and Philippine laws, and, therefore, not only proved the sufficiency of substance of the complaint for human rights violations, but also provides sufficient grounds to impeach Pres. Arroyo.

II. PRESENTATION OF THE ACTS CONSTITUTING THE IMPEACHABLE OFFENSES

Let me now present the people’s case before this Honorable Committee.

A. Distinguished colleagues, respondent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is directly responsible, as a principal by inducement, for the deaths, kidnappings, and arbitrary arrests and detentions of hundreds of political dissenters, as well the violation of the victims’ other constitutional rights because she has personally approved the government’s counter-insurgency program – the Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) I and II, which provides that to defeat the CPP-NPA-NDF rebellion, legal organizations that acted as its “fronts” must be destroyed and its leaders and members “neutralized”, that is killed or forcibly disappeared.

I urge you then to listen to the following facts:

1. Oplan Bantay Laya I (OBL I), the first counter-insurgency program of the Arroyo government, was approved by respondent in 2002, thus making its components a matter of state policy that must be followed. It was supposed to end in 2006. On March 1, 2007 Pres. Arroyo publicly ordered the implementation of OBL II because there were allegedly some areas that needed to be cleansed of CPP-NPA influence, and setting the target to defeat the movement by 2010.

One major component of OBL I and II is the stress on the need to conduct military operations not only against the guerilla forces in the countryside but also against progressive legal organizations that the government accuses as “CPP-NPA fronts”. In effect, even if OBL I and II have been disguised as counter-insurgency programs, they are in reality aimed at repressing legitimate dissent and suppressing political dissenters. The Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) was added as part of the “legal offensive” component of OBL II.

3. Pursuant to the policy directive of OBL I, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) immediately embarked on a “Target Research Program” aimed at in building intelligence data and information, complete with quotas and timetables, on legal organizations and their leaders and members who were marked for “neutralization”.

4. Immediately thereafter, there was a marked increase in the number of leaders and members of militant people’s organizations who were extrajudicially killed, forceably disappeared, illegally arrested and tortured.

5. Most of those who were extrajudicially killed, forceably disappeared, illegally arrested and tortured were priority subjects of the said “target research”.

6. There is a clearly discernible factual pattern in the killings and disappearances:

  • Soldiers take a door-to-door census in a barangay in order to identify members of local people’s organizations.
  • A provisional Order of Battle (OB) of leaders of people’s organizations is drafted based on the census results. The draft OB is made known to the community.
  • Those on the order of battle are ordered to report to be interrogated for information. If they do not cooperate, they are tortured. Any names provided during such interrogations are added to the order of battle.
  • A “Know Your Enemies” seminar is held and “communist terrorist movement” front organizations are listed and their leaders vilified. Sometimes such meetings precede the census. Members from the “speakers bureau” tell those assembled about CPP lies, its true aims, and its use of fronts.
  • Individuals identified as leaders of people’s organizations are encouraged to “surrender”. If they refuse, posters or leaflets vilifying them personally as communist terrorists will be distributed. Then their houses are placed under surveillance.
  • Finally, such individuals are killed or abducted and eventually forcibly disappeared.

7. The foregoing facts are affirmed by Prof. Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, in his Final Report on his Mission to the Philippines.

8. To date, since respondent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo approved OBL I and II, 601 political dissenters have been extrajudicially killed, 176 have been forcibly disappeared, and in all probability tortured, while some 245 have been victims of torture.

9. The following are the more known of the hundreds of victims of extrajudicial killings, and enforced disappearances and torture committed under the Arroyo government, and whose relatives are with us here today:

  • The couple Expedito and Manuela Albarillo, both active leaders of Bayan Muna in San Teodoro, Mindoro Oriental, who were illegally arrested inside their abode and subsequently killed nearby by suspected military elements under the command of General Palparan on April 8, 2002;
  • Eden Marcellana, then KARAPATAN – Southern Tagalog Secretary General and Eddie Gumanoy, then KASAMA – TK Chair who were abducted and subsequently killed by suspected elements of the 204th Brigade of the Philippine Army, then under the command of General Jovito Palparan, on April 22, 2003 in Naujan, Mindoro Oriental;
  • Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo who were abducted on February 14, 2006 in Barangay Buhol na Mangga, San Ildefonso, Bulacan merely by military elements for a having a brother who is an alleged NPA rebel, and who were forcibly disappeared for more than a year before they were able to escape from their military captors on August 13, 2007;
  • Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno, both students of the University of the Philippines who were doing research on peasants, who were abducted by suspected military elements in Barangay San Miguel, Hagonoy, Bulacan on June 26, 2006; and
  • Jonas Joseph Burgos, son of the late press icon Jose Burgos and a member of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan (AMB), who was abducted by suspected elements of the 56th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army on April 28, 2007 while he was eating lunch in Hapag Kainan Restaurant at Ever Gotesco, and now forcibly disappeared;
  • IALAG efforts that gave rise to the Batasan 6, Tagaytay 5, Southern Tagalog 72, more trumped up cases against this Representation, et cetera.

10. Decisions by independent judicial bodies point to the Arroyo government’s culpability in the rash of killings.

  • The Supreme Court, in its October 7, 2008 decision on the Petition for Prohibition, Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order [Manalo vs. Secretary of National Defense, et al.] granted all the reliefs prayed for by the brothers, and categorically affirmed the factual findings of the Court of Appeals that General Jovito Palparan and several junior officers and enlisted personnel under his command then were responsible for the abduction and subsequent enforced disappearances of the Manalo brothers; and by their attestation, UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno, before the two escaped from their military captors.
  • Just last week, the UN Human Rights Committee found the Philippine government guilty of violating primarily the right to life of slain human rights defenders Eden Marcellana and Eddie Gumanoy. In its 12-page communication tabbed as CCPR/C/94/1560/2007 dated 11 November 2008, the UN body stated that “the facts as found by the Committee reveal a violations by the Philippines of article 2, paragraph 3 (the right of violated persons to effective remedies and the State ensuring that such remedies are provided and enforced); article 6, paragraph 1 (the right to life of every person); and article 9, paragraph 1 (the right to liberty and security of persons) of the Covenant [that is, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights]”. The UNHRC further declared that the Philippine government “is under an obligation to provide the authors with an effective remedy, including initiation and pursuit of criminal proceedings to establish responsibility for the kidnapping and death of the victims, and payment of appropriate compensation. The State party should also take measures to ensure that such violations do not recur in the future.”

Let me now go to her second act, or better still, omission.

B. Honorable members of this committee, respondent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is likewise personally liable, by nonfeasance and dereliction of her sublime oath, for the deaths, kidnappings, and arbitrary arrests and detentions of hundreds of political dissenters, as well as the violation of the victims’ other constitutional rights because she failed, or refused to prosecute, despite due and ample notice, the perpetrators of the human rights violators from the military and the police, specifically retired Major General Palparan who has been singled out in the Melo Commission report, and thereby allowing the impunity with which the systematic and gross violations of the constitutional rights of the victims have been perpetrated.

Again, I respectfully ask you, ladies and gentlemen, to lend me your ears.

1. This representation is a witness to Pres. Arroyo’s failure, or refusal, to prosecute, human rights violators in the military and the police despite knowledge of the ongoing carnage against militant activists. In at least two face-to-face meetings, I personally informed the respondent of the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances perpetrated by military elements against our ranks, and asked her to put a stop to them. The first was in November 2003 in Malacanang with Bayan Muna Rep. Siegfred Deduro and where Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita was present. And the second was in her home in La Vista in March 2004.

2. Despite my plea, the “festival of killings”, as one newspaper succinctly out it, continued, and is continuing to this day.

3. Respondent never made any public pronouncement condemning the perpetrators of this orgy of killings, abductions, and disappearances directed at our ranks. Instead, in her various public statements, she gave both tacit and overt approval and encouragement to the military campaigns under OBL I and II and the military officers behind them.

4. As a case in point, let us consider Mr. Jovito Palparan, the most vicious, ruthless, and outspoken proponent of the extrajudicial killings of activists whose case I personally presented to the respondent as early as 2003.

  • Instead of thoroughly investigating him and his subordinates for serious accusations of human rights violations, she rapidly promoted him from Colonel to Major General in a span of four years.
  • Respondent even publicly acclaimed Palparan’s “exploits” and “successes” as an effective military officer during her State of the Nation Address in 2006.
  • Respondent never heeded the recommendation of the Melo Commission to prosecute Mr. Palparan and his subordinates for having probably committed the human rights violations charges against him.
  • Yet, as pointed earlier, the Supreme Court itself has declared Mr. Palparan and several of his former subordinates of having committed the crime of abduction and enforced disappearance against Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo.

5. Respondent’s failure to prosecute human rights violators created a climate of impunity where, as already pointed out, 601 political dissenters have been extrajudicially killed, 176 have been forcibly disappeared, and in all probability tortured, while some 245 have been victims of torture, and where there is no end in sight of this utter madness.

6. Respondent has not acted on the recommendation of Prof. Alston that extrajudicial executions must be eliminated from counterinsurgency operations, and specifically for her to do the following acts:

  • To take concrete steps, as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, to put an end to those aspects of counterinsurgency operations which have led to the targeting and execution of many individuals working with civil society organizations;
  • To take necessary measures that will ensure that the principle of command responsibility, as it is understood in international law, is a basis for criminal liability within the domestic legal order;
  • To direct all military officers to cease making public statements linking political or other legal organizations to those engaged in armed insurgencies; and
  • To make transparent the “orders of battle”, “watch lists”, and similar list of individuals and organizations maintained by the AFP, PNP, and other elements of the national security system, and making public the said list, including their purposes, the criteria for inclusion, and the number of names on each.
  • To abolish the IALAG.

III. SUMMATION OF THE PRESENTATION

Distinguished colleagues, based on the facts and pieces of evidence presented, there can be no other conclusion except that the impeachment complaint against Pres. Arroyo for human rights violations is sufficient in substance. The allegations in the complaint, if proven true, constitutes an offense, which in turn are grounds for impeachment under the Constitution.
The complaint therefore is sufficient in substance.

More than being sufficient in substance, there is sufficient evidence to find probable cause or there can be no doubt that there is sufficient ground “to engender a well-founded belief that the crimes of extrajudicial killings, abductions, enforced disappearances, and torture have been probably committed by respondent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, crimes which are constitutive of three impeachable offenses provided under our Constitution”.

First, her act of approving OBL I and II and her omission in failing, or refusing to prosecute human rights violators, that led to the deaths, kidnappings, and arbitrary arrests and detentions of hundreds of political dissenters, as well the violation of the victims’ other constitutional rights constitute a willful and intentional violation of the Constitution, which among others, enjoin her, as President of the Republic to execute its laws, serve and protect the people, respect human rights, and do justice to every man.

Second, her act of approving OBL I and II and her omission in failing, or refusing to prosecute human rights violators that led to the deaths, kidnappings, and arbitrary arrests and detentions of hundreds of political dissenters, as well the violation of the victims’ other constitutional rights constitute high crimes, particularly as crimes against humanity, because they are offenses of enormous gravity that strike not just at the very life and orderly working of the government, but of the Philippine society in general.

Third, but not the least, her act of approving OBL I and II and her omission in failing, or refusing to prosecute human rights violators that led to the deaths, kidnappings, and arbitrary arrests and detentions of hundreds of political dissenters constitute a betrayal of public trust because by her said acts, where she betrayed public interest, tyrannically abused her power, inexcusably neglected her duty, and breached her official duty by nonfeasance to the prejudice of public interest and brought her office into disrepute, respondent Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo has been rendered unfit to continue in office.

To end, let me venture into the reason behind these seemingly endless killings of political dissenters.

Respondent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo did all these crimes against the very people she is constitutionally mandated to protect because she wants to stifle the ever-growing dissent against her illegitimate and morally depraved government. In short, she wants to perpetuate herself in power, for eternity it seems.

Ladies and gentlemen, beware of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo!

Thank you.

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