The truth can never be concealed

By their incessant and orchestrated hurling of calumny and red-tagging, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and the Armed Forces of the Philippines and its agents attempted to malign the work of Karapatan through columns in the Philippine Daily Inquirer and other dailies, news websites such as Rappler and social media. Thanks but no thanks. Thank you because the issues were brought to the fore and gave the public the opportunity to ruminate and understand them. Thank you because the insidious ferocity of State machinations is exposed and the plight of the victims disclosed. No thanks, because Karapatan and its advocacy need not be flaunted around. But the destitute, the disadvantaged, those who are being rendered invisible and marginalized should be put on centerstage and their problems, especially the inhuman stomping on their rights by the powerful, should be given attention and resolved for justice, for real and lasting peace. Karapatan is a nationwide human rights organization, which exists on efforts of its own members to raise resources, voluntary and committed work, and on donations from supporters who believe in it and its advocacy. We document and tell the facts as they are, and those who speak truth to power, the millions of Filipinos who decry the systematic rights abuses, the poverty, the puppetry of this government, cowers the powers-that-be.

Karapatan is a nationwide human rights organization, which exists on efforts of its own members to raise resources, voluntary and committed work, and on donations from supporters who believe in it and its advocacy. We document and tell the facts as they are, and those who speak truth to power, the millions of Filipinos who decry the systematic rights abuses, the poverty, the puppetry of this government, cowers the powers-that-be.

Among the cases that we documented is the brutal massacre of Dionel Campos, Juvello Sinzo and Emerito Samarca before their loved ones and community members by the Bagani/Magahat paramilitary group, a case that has stirred condemnation and public discussion on the human rights situation in the Philippines. Campos was a community leader and chairperson of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang Sa Sumusunod(MAPASU). Samarca was the executive director of the award-winning alternative school for indigenous peoples, the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV). This great blunder to its counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, a case emblematic of the terror operational plan that is touted as for “peace and development,” so bothered the Aquino government.

As Pres. Aquino III clandestinely stayed in the background, as he always does with his every misstep, he gives the burden of explaining to the AFP and its agents. He apparently instructed all his teams of assistants and advisers to mobilize all its machineries to remedy this great blunder. So on went the seemingly elaborate but cheap propaganda blitz – get all the known personalities, all those who have made a mark whether by theirerudition, profession, government position, or all those that could be hoodwinked or paid - and portray the military as Saints and the Aquino government as a Messiah to lead you to the right path, many call it the doomed path, and all else as villains. The agents and hired propagandists are like broken records echoing the same lamentations, the same lies.

The military was quick to deny any involvement in the massacre and to the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary group. Hysterical, it went into another blunder when it sponsored the press conference of the presumptive three datus from Mindanao – Marcial Belandres, Nestor Apas and Lumansad Sibugan – right at General Emilio Aguinaldo Headquarters of the military, then took them to Malacanang afterwards. The three datus are notorious in Mindanao for their leadership of paramilitary groups terrorizing the Lumad communities. They even joined military operations as testified by eyewitnesses and documented by human rights defenders in the field.

Meanwhile, government pawns – fake datu, LGU officials, tribal leaders, and other NGOs – who pretend to espouse the cause of the Lumad keep on complaining that alleged Lumad killings they blame on the NPA were not given attention by Karapatan. Incredible and ridiculous indeed that they would seek Karapatan for help for those they claim to be victims when they are close, albeit, adjunct of the government machinery that possesses mammoth resources – money, personnel (including armed), sophisticated high-tech equipment, trolls and well-oiled propaganda machinery. Again, thanks but no thanks, because our mandate is to assist those who were deprived of rights by the State, in contravention of its obligations and commitments to international human rights instruments, and citizens who were denied access to government support in their efforts to seek justice.

The issue in contention here is not Karapatan nor about Karapatan. The issue is the Aquino government’s heinous human rights violations through its Oplan Bayanihan, with the implacable pursuance of impunity as it coddles the offenders.

Why is the BS Aquino afraid of an independent investigation of the United Nations Human Rights Council? As in the time of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the crimes of the Aquino regime will be open to scrutiny. The statistics on victims under his watch as of September 30, 2015: 294 extrajudicial killing, 318 frustrated killing, 27 enforced disappearances, 172 victims of torture; 911 illegal arrests and detention, mostly for fabricated charges; more than 65,000 victims of forcible evacuation; 15 massacres and many other human rights violations - will be affirmed by the victims and the witnesses among the masses who have nothing to lose – neither money nor title - for telling the truth. The thousands of evacuees are living testimonials to the fierce military operations and paramilitary threats and harassments in the government’s desperation to quell the resistance and offer to foreign investors the plunder of their vast fertile land and rich mineral resources. The privileged treatment for paramilitary forces is shown in the imprint of Congressional Appropriations, not to mention those hidden in deceptive programs of OPAPP and the DSWD. The proliferation of “datu”, by virtue of NCIP appointments, is to contravene the traditional datu and tribal leaders who resist the entry of foreign corporations. The “datu”-lackeys of the government, who admittedly are rebel surrenderees, are the government’s trusted instruments of deception and force to easily and conveniently betray their mass constituents. Meanwhile, not a single perpetrator of these crimes has been convicted and made accountable for the rights abuses.

The truth can never be concealed. Like the elongated nose of Pinocchio, lies too can never be concealed. Cristina Palabay Secretary General, Karapatan

 

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