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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 the present.

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. ###

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