IALAG abolition does not wash off blood from GMA’s hands

Human rights watchdog Karapatan welcomed the long overdue abolition of the Inter-agency Legal Affairs Group (IALAG). Karapatan claimed that the Philippine government's act of abolishing IALAG is  but a confirmation that  the agency has time and again been used by state agents to violate human rights.

IALAG, formed by the President through Executive Order 493 in 2006, was tasked to investigate, prosecute, monitor and handle litigation processes of cases involving national security. However, the group has become a government agency responsible for fabricating criminal lawsuits against political activists suspected of being members or supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Human rights workers and advocates were not spared from the legal offensives. 

Now that IALAG is abolished, Karapatan called for the immediate release of the individuals illegally arrested and detained including Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas' leaders Randall Echanis and Bernadith Dignos; National Democratic Front peace consultants Randy Felix Malayo and Elizabeth Principe.

The rights group also added that the trumped up charges against these activists should be dropped, as well as the charges against labor lawyer Atty. Remigio Saladero, the 72 regional and provincial leaders in Southern Tagalog, and other activists.

Karapatan however condemns the Arroyo regime’s continuing threat on the civil and political rights of the Filipino people. Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita even declared that the government has “other means  of monitoring the activities of those trying to destabilize government.” It is possible that the Arroyo administration will not stand down from targeting unarmed individuals calling for genuine social change.

Despite this move of the government, atrocities against political activists have not ceased.  KMP National Council member Fermin Lorico, 52, was shot three times and was killed on June 10 by three unidentified men believed to be members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Lorico had just come from an anti-charter change protest rally. On the midnight of June 11, a conference attended by representatives and coordinators of Anakpawis, Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women’s Party, Kabataan Partylists in Cagayan, was raided by several masked and armed men.

Karapatan reiterates that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should be held accountable for the gross human rights violations in her 9 years of power. A vital step in obtaining justice for the victims is her removal from Malacañang. ###