Arroyo tolerant of rapists and other human rights violators

She had set them free, they who have trampled human dignity.  That is how the human rights group Karapatan sees the policy of President Arroyo towards convicted, unrepentant rapists and her military
officials accused of atrocities against civilians.

Karapatan said that perhaps the only difference is that Arroyo wanted to give plum positions to her military henchmen like Gen. Jovito Palparan who not only remain scot-free but also offered several
government posts.

The human rights group had likewise accused Arroyo of abetting criminality in the country.

"Mrs.  Arroyo not only acquiesced on extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances through Oplan Banta Laya, she has likewise condoned rape by giving freedom to those who should serve  their sentence," Karapatan said.

The rape case against Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith in 2005 and the statutory rape against Congressman Romeo Jalosjos in 1997 were tried in the name of the people of the Philippines, for which these two were found guilty.  "Yet, the de facto Philippine President insists on giving preferential treatment to unrepentant criminals."

Arroyo continues to insult us with the brazen display of power that came with the position she arrogated upon herself.  "We Filipinos do not have to put up with this kind of governance, there should be a remedy to this plague" the rights group said.

Karapatan lambasted Arroyo for her constitutional discretion to grant presidential pardon to Jalosjos without regard to the fact that he had raped a child, was without remorse and that he has not even served a fraction of his sentence of two life terms.

Her government spirited away Cpl. Smith three years ago and connived with the U.S. Embassy in harboring a man who raped a Filipina. "It is our belief that the recent revision of Nicole's sworn statement was caused by the seeming insurmountable odds foisted by both the U.S.  and Philippine governments on 'Nicole' and her family, i.e., the connivance in coddling Smith and the obvious refusal to serve justice for this public crime."

The group said Nicole's case became the case of the 'People of the Philippines vs. Smith,' and that literally, a significant section of our people helped Nicole attain conviction for the man who has
violated her human dignity and the dignity of our people.   "It is the Arroyo government that has condoned this degradation and aggravated it."

Karapatan said they understand Nicole's predicament, saying that it is not unusual that some victims would crumble when the state exerts its immense power over an individual. "That is why it is all the more important for people to rally behind them and the cause for justice."

"We condemn Arroyo and her minions for the practice of exerting undue pressure on victims so that they would recant their testimony against perpetrators, making them claim that they had done so
“voluntarily” so that they “could return to normal life.”

However, a normal life in this country is difficult as human rights violations occur everyday, where government reneges on its obligation for reparation and restitution, where interests of a foreign power
takes precedence before the welfare of its citizens.

When victims crumble in the face of naked state power, all the more that peace-loving Filipinos must work double-time to right what is wrong.