Vigilance, key to elections 2016 and beyond

The 2016 election campaign frenzy comes to a close. By far, this seemed the most farcical, nastiest, and most hysterical presidential elections in the post-Marcos era—a sign of how far the elite and foreign-dominated system has deteriorated and broken down.

As votes are cast on May 9, and as the nation awaits the results of the elections, Karapatan urges the Filipino people to remember:

1. The human rights violations committed by the BS Aquino’s blood-soaked “tuwid na daan”, now led by Aquino clone Mar Roxas.

Let us remember the regime’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which resulted in 318 victims of extrajudicial killings and 583 victims of frustrated killings; 30 victims of enforced disappearance and 224 victims of torture, among others (as of March 2016). Included in these numbers are victims of the 15 massacres committed by the regime’s armed forces, including paramilitary groups.

The Aquino regime leaves behind 543 political prisoners, languishing in jail because of false criminal charges. There are elderly—as old as 74, who were convicted for fighting for the interests of poor peasants but were treated as criminals. There were political prisoners who died in prison because of ailments and the lack of proper medical treatment in jail, among them peace consultant Eduardo Serrano. Serrano belonged to the group of NDFP peace consultants who were jailed that violated the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and in contempt of the peace negotiation. There are now 18 NDFP peace consultants in detention.

At 12:45am today, May 8, another political prisoner, Jose Andaya, 70, died inside the Tinangis Penal Farm, Pili, Camarines Sur. In his medical certificate issued by the Bicol Medical Center on October 20, 2015, Andaya sufferred from hypertensive cardiovascular disease and congestive heart failure. Andaya was arrested on April 24, 2015 by members of the Philippine National Police, on trumped up charges of murder.

The BS Aquino regime has victimized innocent civilians, like security guard Rolly Panesa, who was abducted, illegally detained and tortured for a prize. Mar Roxas’s Department of Interior and Local Government, with the Department of National Defense, is responsible for squandering at least Php 95 million of people’s money in a span of three years for rewards to “informants” who turned in so-called communist leaders.

2. The sell-out of what remains of the country’s sovereignty by allowing the unhampered presence of US troops through the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, on top of the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Mutual Defense Treaty.

3. The misuse of public funds through the pork barrel system. The public funds are kept within the ruling faction instead of using these for say, the victims of typhoon Yolanda or the victims of drought who had to beg for rice subsidy but ended up dead and jailed. Worse, BS Aquino has appropriated unto himself and the Liberal Party the right to use people’s money and government resources to campaign for his anointed successor Mar Roxas—a desperate act to ensure he does not end up in jail once he steps down. Already, the call to jail BS Aquino and his cohorts has started.

4. The fight for fundamental change does not begin and end with the elections. As the circus folds up, the reality reappears—poverty, oppressive and repressive structures and laws, unemployment and all the social ills the Filipino people are too familiar with, and have lived their lives for generations.

The past elections have proven that not one superhero, however we imagined him/her to be our savior, will and can serve the best interest of the poor majority. Whatever comes out of the 2016 elections and beyond, the power to change the course of our nation is still in the people’s hands. This is the best guarantee that our dreams and hopes as a people are achieved.