Lacson appointment adds insult to injury

"BS Aquino’s appointment of Gen. Panfilo Lacson as 'rehabilitation czar' in typhoon-affected areas is the same as appointing Gen. Jovito Palparan to a plum civilian position in government. Nothing in Lacson’s bloody record indicate his competence to handle the rehabilitation of communities affected by typhoon Yolanda. In fact, he is most known as a notorious torturer during Martial Law, and his involvement in high-profile case of rights abuses such as the disappearance of PR consultant Salvador “Bubby” Dacer in November 2000,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.


Lacson is said to be among those responsible for the disappearance of Redemptorist priest Fr. Rudy Romano in Cebu in 1985 and the torture of activists Marco Palo, Joseph Olayer, Manuel Mario Guzman, Rolando Salutin and Rodolfo Benosa in 1983, as part ogf the Metrocom Intelligence and Security Group (MISG). He was also charged with multiple murder cases in the death of 11 suspected members of the Kuratong Baleleng in 1995. 

“The appointment of another favoured ally of BS Aquino who is most known for human rights violations is adding insult to injury. This shows the real intention of BS Aquino – to silence emerging discontent of hungry and neglected victims of super typhoon Yolanda,” Palabay said. 

“We need a government that understands the plight of the poor people, look at things from their perspective, and support the people’s efforts to rebuild their communities. Even befo
re the typhoon wrought havoc in Samar and Leyte, these communities were already poverty-stricken, thus, making people vulnerable to the impact of natural and man-made calamities. There was neither economic security nor basic services for the people. Efforts to rehabilitate and reconstruct the areas hit by the typhoon require a full grasp of the situation in these communities, especially of the poor peasants, fisherfolks, workers,” Palabay added.  

Karapatan said that the government cannot use the typhoon to escape its responsibility from its failure to address the people’s needs in these communities when BS Aquino assumed office. The government should have prioritized the implementation of genuine land reform, quality health services, education and housing, infrastructure development to spare or shield the people from the impact of natural calamities. 

“That would also ensure a speedy recovery after a calamity hits the communities,” said Palabay. “But the government did not. And, now the people are left to fend for themselves because the government has turned deaf and blind to the situation of the plight of the people.”

On November 20-25, two teams from Karapatan went to Samar and Leyte to join the relief and medical missions organized by BALSA and Samahang Operasyong Sagip (SOS). The teams documented the situation in Samar and Leyte.  

In Tacloban and Samar, almost all crops and houses were washed away by the storm surge. Some villages merely rely on rain water or water from wells. Relief operations remain sluggish. Barangay officials lamented how government agencies only distributed relief goods in barangays “with casualties.”

Karapatan teams observed that pregnant women, children and those with wounds sustained during and after the typhoon need immediate attention but the hospitals are incapable of accommodating as much patients because it lacks personnel and equipment. Some hospitals were also destroyed. It would take six to eight hours travel to get to the next hospital in Calbayog or Catbalogan.

Mosquitos started to breed in stagnant waters. Sanitation problems also put the health of communities in danger. There are still missing persons that are feared to have been covered by the rubbles but search efforts and the clearing of debris by the authorities were idle.

“Samar and Leyte reeks not only of decaying bodies that BS Aquino have tried to downplay but also of corruption that exacerbates the already downtrodden situation of the people of Visayas,” ended Palabay.###