Families of victims of human rights violations under the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo government slammed the newly-installed House of Representatives Speaker, saying she is still accountable for the many atrocities from 2001 to 2009.
Angered at the complete rehabilitation of Arroyo’s political career, the families said her comeback is an insult to the victims and to the Filipino people who were also victims to the massive electoral fraud she befitted from in 2004.
“[Arroyo’s rise to the Speakership] illustrates the grave impunity under [President Rodrigo] Duterte who coddles a fraud, plunderer and rights violator,” the families said.
In a press conference, JL Burgos, brother of the disappeared peasant rights activist Jonas abducted in April 28, 2007, said, “Birds of a feather flock together,” adding he is not surprised the Arroyo’s political rehabilitation happened under a regime such as Duterte’s.
Roneo Clamor, Karapatan deputy secretary general, said the spectacle at the House of Representatives Monday, boils down to impunity, noting that both Arroyo and Duterte are accused of implementing policies that cause human rights violations in the country.
Karapatan said more than 1,600 were victims of extrajudicial killings while more than 200 remain missing as a result of Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya counter-insurgency program.
Also present in the press conference Tuesday were Evan Hernandez, mother of human rights worker Beng Hernandez who was among the first victims of extrajudicial killings under Arroyo, as well as Linda Cadapan, mother of missing University of the Philippines student Sherlyn.
Cadapan said she had been in tears since Monday afternoon after learning Arroyo has benefitted from a dramatic coup d’etat that ousted former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
“It is hard to believe that the worst violator of human rights like Arroyo can escape justice and can still be rehabilitated as one of the highest officials of the land once more,” Cadapan told Kodao in Filipino.
Worst annual death rate of journalists
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines for its part said it vows to persevere even more to exact accountability from Arroyo under whose term a total of 103 journalists were killed.
“It was under the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo presidency that the worst attack against journalists in history happened,” NUJP said, recalling 32 reporters were killed in November 23, 2009 in the incident called the Ampatuan Massacre.
“The family believed to be behind this gruesome act has been abetted by the corrupt and bloody government of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo through political, financial, military and other forms of support, emboldening them to commit unprecendeted forms of atrocities,” NUJP said.
The group added that Arroyo’s nine years still has the worst average annual death rate of any president.
NUJP recalled that during Arroyo’s state of national emergency, the newspaper The Daily Tribune was raided and troops deployed around the premises of ABS-CBN.
During a live interview, then Arroyo Cabinet Secretary Ric Saludo said they could take over station for airing statement of mutinous military officers.
Kodao Production’s daily radio program was also taken off air due to orders from Malacañang.
The NUJP, as well as Kodao Productions and Bulatlat.com were tagged by the Armed Forces of the Philippines as “enemies of the state” under Arroyo.
Kodao was also charged with rebellion, along with 60 other activists under Arroyo’s state of national emergency in 2016.
The case was dismissed, however, when the government witnessed wrongly claimed he had been working as a spy under Kodao since 1989.
Kodao was only established in 2000. #