The first article is from the Tribune. This paper is leftist and quite outspoken often. It was closed down briefly by Arroyo at one point. People from it have been charged with sedition from time to time but I am not sure what the situation is now. The paper soldiers on!
Excuse for utter AFP failure
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Military chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr., at the summit organized by the high court to bring about solutions to the never-ending spate of extra-judicial murders, along with continuous abuses of human rights by the government, offered a solution to end the summary executions: The resumption of the peace talks with the communists on condition that a three-year bilateral ceasefire is forged.
In proposing this “solution,” Esperon still refused to admit it is the military elements killing the leftists and other activists. Instead, he continued to lay the blame on the communists for the extra-judicial killings of these leftists, whom he also says are fronts of the armed communist organization.
The solution offered then by Esperon does not make any sense. Why is there then a need for a three-year ceasefire and peace talks between the government and the communists to resolve the problem of extra-judicial murders, if, as Esperon insists, it is the leftists that are killing their own?
It stands to reason then that even if there are peace talks and a three year ceasefire, the summary executions of leftists and militants would still continue, if, as claimed, it is the communists killing leaders of their own “front” organizations. What then do peace talks and a three-year ceasefire achieve, especially as such ceasefire won’t hold, as it never did, even in the past, mainly because even as a ceasefire is in place, the military continues to accuse the leftists and other militants of reneging on whatever agreement has been reached, as the communists also do.
But granting that a ceasefire will hold, will the Arroyo government and its military, within the three-year ceasefire span, also stop its deployment of troops in urban poor villages located in Metro Manila and provinces where the leftists exert influence, and where the military, in the guise of community service, go into a brainwashing of the urban poor to reject these leftists who are into parliamentary struggle?
More important is the fact that the summary executions of leftist leaders will go on even as a ceasefire is in place, since all fingers point to the military elements executing these leftists, and the military leadership continues to deny that its men are involved in these political murders.
This would be open season for the military elements to continue killing militants and leftist leaders then continue blaming the militants for these, while officially, the AFP and the armed force of the communists stop having firefights and encounters.
Even during the summit, cameras caught Esperon showing Jose Maria Sison’s 20-year-old video on his computer, insisting that the aboveground leftists are fronts of the communist organization.
If there was sincerity in Esperon’s call for a ceasefire and peace talks, what was the idea of again showing this video and pointing to these aboveground leftists as fronts yet at the same time call for peace talks and a three year ceasefire?
What is more likely is that Esperon announced this ceasefire proposal because the military generals know that they not only can fight their branded “enemies” such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the alleged breakaway Moro National Liberation Front, the Abu Sayaff Group, the armed communist insurgents, the political foes, along with the militants and the leftist groups they tag as communist fronts, not when they have no more funds most of which go into the personal pockets of corrupt officers; not when they can’t provide their soldiers with the right weapons and ammunition to fight the enemies; not when their Air Force has no aircraft; not when their soldiers in the field, surrounded by the enemy and already being killed and wounded by the enemies, are not being given the AFP assistance, whether by air or through reinforcements in nearby areas; not when the military intelligence network is focused not on these real enemies of the state but on political foes and critics and not when the military is much too divided and highly unprofessional with its leaders being politically partisan for the military’s own good as well as the soldiers no longer having respect for their prostituted officers. And even more important, not when the soldiers who fight and give their all realize that the military is losing the war in all fronts.
And as long as the military and Malacañang continue to deny their direct and indirect involvement in the political murders, no ceasefire is likely to stop the political murders from recurring.
Esperon, who, along with Gloria Arroyo, bragged that the communist insurgency will be wiped out in a year — and before he retires, knows damn well he can’t hack it mainly because their plan of decimating the legal Left leaders through summary executions boomeranged on them.
The second article is also from a leftist newspaper http://www.malaya.com.ph/jul18/news2.htma Manila daily.
This article is not as strident. However, the Tribune article does bring up some excellent points. If the extra-judicial killings are caused by the NPA and their fronts a peace deal will not solve anything. Also, if the killings are on the part of the AFP or national police there is no reason to think that a peace deal will stop them either. In fact it will merely free the Armed Forces to concentrate upon such killings. This article is good in that it has a few statements from the NPA side as to what would be required for a peace treaty. There are of course other insurgencies in the Philippines not involving the NPA but various Islamic separatist groups.
Criminalize violence vs
dissenters, summit urges
BY EVANGELINE DE VERA
DELEGATES to the National Consultative Summit on Extra-Judicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances that ended yesterday were unanimous in proposing a law that would criminalize violence against political dissenters and media men.
The 12 groups of panelists at the Supreme Court-sponsored two-day summit also agreed to the proposal of Armed Forces chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr. for a resumption of peace talks with communist rebels, saying the failure of government and the National Democratic Front to forge a truce is the root cause of the violence.
"The most viable and long-term solution to the problem of the killings and disappearances is going back to the peace process. There must be a renunciation of the armed struggle, particularly in relation to the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army)," said the group of Associate Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago.
The groups, each headed by an associate justice, also called for a sustained dialogue between government and various sectors of society to solve the insurgency problem which they said is not a military problem but a political one.
The military has repeatedly denied any hand in the killing of political activists and perceived critics of the administration.
The delegates denounced the spate of summary and arbitrary executions, saying extra-judicial killings and involuntary disappearances are abominable and have no place in a democratic society.
The group of Senior Associate Justice Leonardo Quisumbing proposed a "new crime" where the victims or offended party is a journalist, judge or militant who is killed or kidnapped in the course of the performance of his duties.
"This is not penalized in the Revised Penal Code. If we have a law protecting women and children, this group is also in need of the protection of the law. This is not an intrusion by the judiciary into the domain of the legislation as under our laws, the Courts can propose laws for the enactment of Congress," said the group.
The group also proposed that if a respondent in a case for habeas corpus denies custody of a missing person, the court hearing the case shall issue an order authorizing a government official entry and examination of specified military and police camps, safehouses, offices and detention centers.
The group of Ynares-Santiago said there is a need to specifically define offenses involving extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances, apart from murder, kidnapping and serious physical injuries as defined under the Revised Penal Code.
It said the rampant incidents of killings and forced disappearances have exposed the insufficiency of the writ of habeas corpus to address the problem because the respondents can merely deny possession of the body of the victim.
Associate Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez said: "The military or the police authorities merely issue a `general denial’ of custody and nothing more, forgetful of their role as protector of the State and the people. To restore trust and confidence in these agencies is to erase the perception that extra-judicial killings are committed by these authorities."
The group further recommended that a serious study of the writ of amparo be undertaken to see how it can be availed of as a protective and remedial tool.
The writ of amparo is a special constitutional court order to protect or enforce a constitutional right, other than physical liberty which is already covered by the writ of habeas corpus, in line with the power of the Supreme Court to adopt rules to protect or enforce constitutional rights.
The group further called for the passage of a law on command responsibility of military superiors over the actions of their subordinates.
The group also proposed a bill similar to a national ID system, which sets down clear parameters but does not violate basic human rights.
During deliberations of the Gutierrez group, 13 members concurred with the recommendation for the issuance of a resolution requesting President Arroyo to issue an order to all agencies concerned to put a stop to the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.
Four members of the panel, who are from the military and police, dissented.
Associate Justice Antonio Carpio recommended that in habeas corpus proceedings, the petitioner may ask the court for an order allowing him to search specific private and public premises under guidelines prescribed by the court in the presence of the police and representatives of the Commission on Human Rights.
Carpio’s group also urged the Supreme Court to adopt a rule allowing persons threatened with extra-judicial killings — whether by state agents, insurgents or other armed groups — to apply for a protection order from the courts directing the NBI or the police to provide them security. The order may also be directed to tribal councils and churches whose customary laws are recognized.
Chief Justice Reynato Puno said the summit was a success because it brought together two protagonists – the military and the militant groups – at the center of the controversy.
In his closing address, Puno said the summit would be remembered because it opened the possibility of the resumption of the long-stalled negotiations between government and the CPP.
"Those who expected some verbal violence to happen were disappointed. If there were to be the only achievement of this summit, that is, to bring back to the talking table and away from the killing fields the Republic and the CPP-NDF, that would have been enough success," Puno said.
CPP founder Jose Ma. Sison said government should first address three "prejudicial" issues first before they would agree to return to the negotiating table.
He said the first issue is extra-judicial killings.
"It (government) must stop the extrajudicial killings, abductions, tortures, mass displacement of more than one million people and other human rights violations perpetrated by the reactionary armed forces," Sison said.
Sison also said the government should declare that it is against his "terrorist blacklisting" and that of the CPP and the NPA. The United States and the European Union have listed them as foreign terrorist organizations.
The third issue is the indemnification of the victims of abuses during the Marcos years.
Sison said that if the government wants to forge a ceasefire during the peace negotiations, it must come to terms with the NDFP on the basis of its proposed 10-point Concise Agreement for an Immediate Just Peace.
Also, he said government "must agree with the NDFP on how to accelerate the forging of comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms in order to address the root causes of the armed conflict."
Sison said the NDFP negotiating panel has long expressed its desire to engage in exploratory talks for the purpose of resolving the "prejudicial" questions that they are raising.
NDFP chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni said Esperon’s recommendation for the resumption of the talks if the communist agree to a three-year ceasefire "is cheap propaganda."
"General Hermogenes Esperon speaks with a forked tongue. He pretends to be for the resumption of peace talks but says his recommendation is ‘to crush the insurgency in forms of peace and negotiation’," said Jalandoni.
Jalandoni said Esperon showed "utter disrespect" for a GRP-NDFP agreement which stipulates that a prolonged ceasefire should be forged only after the root causes of the conflict are addressed through fundamental economic, social and political reforms.
"He wants only the pacification of the revolutionary movement," he said.
Jalandoni nevertheless said the NDFP is open to resume exploratory talks if only to put an end to the killings, enforced disappearances, forced displacement of "over a million people" by the military, and the terrorist labeling of Sison, the CPP and the NPA.
The peace talks have been stalled since August 2004 when the NDFP withdrew from the negotiations after the group was included in the United States’ list of foreign terrorist organizations.
Malacañang said the CPP-NDFP wasted a good opportunity to return to the peace negotiations by rejected the proposed bilateral ceasefire.
However, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said the truce proposal remains.
National security adviser Norberto Gonzales said the truce is necessary for the resumption of the talks.
"How can you talk when you attack? If they reject the ceasefire, what’s the use of the negotiations?" he said.
Gonzales also said the proposed truce does not go against the government policy of eliminating insurgency in the next few years as the campaign is focused more against armed groups and armed rebellion.
He said if the CPP-NPA-NDF continues to reject the proposal, government would simply proceed with its all-out campaign against insurgency. – With Victor Reyes, Reinir Padua and Jocelyn Montemayor