Alston Press Statement and Melo Commission Report
Hold Arroyo Regime and Military
Accountable for Extrajudicial Killings
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chief Political Consultant
National Democratic Front of the Philippines
23 February 2007
The press statement of the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary
executions Prof. Philip Alston and the report of the Melo commission put forward important
findings and conclusions that hold the Arroyo regime and the Armed Forces of the Philippines
(AFP) accountable for extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations from 2001 to
Alston asks the top officials of the Philippine reactionary government to acknowledge the
reality of the extrajudicial killings and to issue a statement from the very top, from the
President, from the Secretary of Defense, and certainly from the AFP chief of staff saying
that extrajudicial killings will not be tolerated. He avers that the extrajudicial killings are
convincingly attributed to the military by the victims and their families.
Alston falls short of spelling out the culpability of de facto president Gloria M. Arroyo as
AFP commander-in-chief and her cabinet oversight committee on internal security for
adopting and carrying out the policy of state terrorism and the operational plan Bantay
Laya I and II, in line with the Bush global war of terror.
However, Alston states that the all-out war policy has driven a part of the military to
commit extrajudicial killings. He describes as unconvincing the false claim and intrigue
of AFP chief of staff General Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. that the victims of extrajudicial
killings are communists but are "purged' by the communists on suspicion of being spies
or malversing party funds.
It is well-known that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) launched the Second
Great Rectification Movement in 1992 as an educational movement to reaffirm basic
revolutionary principles and criticize, repudiate and rectify the grave errors and crimes
committed by renegades against the right to due process in so-called anti-informer
campaigns mainly in the years of 1985 to 1988.
The report of the Melo commission repetitiously and obsequiously praises and exculpates
Gloria M. Arroyo and insults the revolutionary movement. But it establishes that there is
a grave problem of extrajudicial killings perpetrated by what it estimates as "a small group
of military rogues". It considers as credible and convincing the information drawn from
sources other than the families of the victims and the human rights organization Karapatan
that the military is responsible for the extrajudicial killings.
The Melo report takes to task AFP chief of staff General Esperon for failing to prevent,
investigate and punish those responsible for extrajudicial killings in accordance with the
principle of command responsibility and the rule of law. The commission holds General
Palparan responsible for the extrajudicial killings and abductions of unarmed activists
within his previous areas of command and for making statements condoning and
encouraging these atrocities.
The Melo report exposes the self-contradictions in the false claim and intrigue of the
military that the extrajudicial killings are the result of an "internal purge" within the
ranks of the revolutionary forces. It finds credible and convincing the testimonies of
the surviving victims and the families of the victims. Although the Melo commission
was boycotted by them, it was able to rely on the investigations and documentation
of the Human Rights Commission and other sources.
The Alston mission is restrained by considerations of the Philippines being a member-state
of the United Nations and having representatives in the human rights treaty bodies of
the UN. The Melo commission is even more limited by the fact that it is a creature of
Gloria M. Arroyo, lacks independence and ample resources of its own and does not
enjoy the full confidence of the families of the victims and the human rights organizations.
After trying to mothball the Melo report because of its criticism of the military, the Arroyo
regime has been compelled to release it only because of the demands of UN agencies,
the European Commission, human right organizations, the general public and others.
The families of the victims of extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations and
the broad masses of the people are pleased with the positive points in the Alston
press statement and the Melo commission. They have yearned for justice for so
long that they welcome any glimmer of hope. At the same time, they are concerned
that the Arroyo regime will continue to push the military, police and paramilitary forces
to commit more human rights violations in line with Oplan Bantay Laya, especially after
she signs the Anti-Terror Act.
Gloria M. Arroyo has reacted to the Alston statement and Melo report by pretending
to accept them gracefully but insisting that 99.9 per cent of her armed minions are
"good". She lets her executive secretary Ermita, justice secretary Raul Gonzales and
General Esperon badmouth Alston. Without any sense of honor and shame, Esperon
repeats his lies against me in a futile attempt to deflect attention from his exposure
as a liar by the Alston statement and even by the Melo report.
Esperon misrepresents as victims of the New People's Army those massacred by the
Philippine Army in 1984 in Leyte. He claims that an "internal purge" within revolutionary
ranks started from that time and has continued up to the present. He is caught lying
by claiming that Satur Ocampo, Luis Jalandoni and I signed the so-called purge order
in Leyte in 1984. At that time, Satur was detained in Bicutan. I was in solitary
confinement in Fort Bonifacio. And Louie had been a refugee in Europe since 1977.
Esperon also makes the false claim that I identified certain legal mass organizations like
Bayan, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Gabriela and League of
Filipino students not as legal "national democratic forces" but as "front organizations"
of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF). He uses an old doctored
film clip of me delivering a lecture in Brussels, Belgium in 1987. The military psywar
experts conflated a passage of my speech enumerating the legal democratic
organizations and another passage mentioning the NDF.
Only an imbecile would dare to misrepresent me as being ignorant of the underground
organizations of the NDF and confusing them with legal democratic forces in the Bayan
multisectoral alliance. What is the point of Esperon in making all the foregoing false
claims against me? To "prove" that I have identified legal organizations as belonging
to the NDF and to "justify" the military in threatening and murdering legal activists?
So long as the US-directed Arroyo ruling clique is in power, it is impossible for the
victims of human rights violations to obtain justice through the legal channels in
the Philippines. Before a single military officer can be held responsible for any of
the hundreds of extrajudicial killings, there shall have been more victims of human
rights violations. And Arroyo shall have signed the Anti-Terror Act and begun to
use it as a bludgeon to attack the broad range of opposition forces, especially
the legal progressive organizations. The Arroyo regime is goading the people
to wage all forms of resistance. ###