SF CHRP (San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines) is a San Francisco based human rights advocacy group. Latest news and views on human rights in the Philippines.
Reference: Rupert Estanislao, Chair
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In a display of utter contempt for the youth and student movement in the Philippines and a dismissal of victims of human rights violations under the Aquino administration, Etta Rosales gave insult to injury when she said that comparing the human rights situation today with the human rights situation under martial law was “muddling the issue.”
“Rosales, the so-called chair for the Commission on “Human Rights,” showed a complete lack of will in fulfilling her role as human rights monitor and advocate as well as a complete disconnect from the atrocious human rights record in the Philippines.” Said Rupert Estanislao, chair for the San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (SF CHRP). “Despite being a victim of human rights violations during the time of Marcos, Rosales displayed not even a modicum of sympathy for the youth and student protesters who are only demanding their basic right of access to a comprehensive education, as well as championing the cause for human rights victims under the Aquino administration.”
Rosales made her comments on Sunday to ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol in reaction to a period of week-long strikes, walk-outs, and demonstrations led by youth and student leaders and organizers in commemoration to the declaration of martial law by then president Marcos on September 21, 1972.
On the program Rosales stated, “Stop comparing martial law of yesterday to what they [the government] are doing now because if they do that they are merely muddling the issue. Mag-aral sila. Naiintindihan ba nila ang sinasabi nila? [They are students. But do they even know what they are talking about?]” She then had the audacity to say that instead of protesting for a right to a comprehensive and accessible education, the students should instead go to the library and “learn” what martial law was “really about.”
“The only thing muddled here is Commissioner Rosales’ recollection of history and the struggle of the Filipino people,” says League of Filipino Students secretary-general Mai Uichanco.
Kabataan Party-list congressman Raymond Palatino, who represents youth and students in the Philippine House of Representatives, was in shock. “When I first heard her pronouncement, I cannot believe my ears. Rosales has seemingly contracted a rare form of selective amnesia. Has she totally forgotten the vital role of the student movement in toppling the Marcos regime?”
“Despite being the chair for the Commission on Human Rights, Rosales has shown willful ignorance to the deplorable and decaying human rights situation on the ground today.” Commented Estanislao. “Martial law reinforced the unbalance in Philippine society today. How could Chairperson Rosales not sympathize with today’s youth and students in a time when most families can barely pay for tuition fees and other living expenses?”
“She has also forgotten what martial law was actually deployed for,” continued Estanislao. “Martial law was used to strengthen the tools of state terror in order to cement the hold of corrupt politicians, greedy land lords, and bureaucrat capitalists. It was used to target the open and legal national democratic mass movement, which in turn was seeking to fundamentally change the exploitative social and economic system by overthrowing president Marcos and his cronies.”
During the period of martial law, Marcos strengthened certain tools of state terror such as the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Constabulary, and state-backed militias (Civilian Home Defense Force) in order to attack those who were a part of the open and legal national democratic mass movement and those who opposed Marcos’ policies.
While martial law was declared ended by Cory Aquino after the first EDSA uprising, the tools of state terror and repression which were strengthened by martial law never went away. Instead of “all out war” by terrorizing the countryside, the AFP uses talk of “peace and development” which displaces the peasantry. Instead of the Philippine Constabulary, there is the Philippine National Police performing illegal surveillance and assassinations. And instead of Civilian Home Defense Force units, there are Civilian Armed Geographical Units doing the biding of local politicians and landlords by attacking the peasantry and community organizers.
Since 2001, there has been an increase in human rights violations that rival, if not surpass, president Marcos’ 21 years in office. Under the Arroyo administration (2001-2010), there were 1,206 victims of extrajudicial killings, and 206 victims of enforced disappearances. Arroyo’s rate of extrajudicial killings rivaled those of Marcos with 155 extrajudicial killings per-year under Marcos’ tenure and an average of 134 extrajudicial killings a year under Arroyo.
The culture of impunity has not stopped under Aquino. There has been 100 victims of extrajudicial killings, 11 enforced disappearances, 62 victims of torture, almost 400 political prisoners languishing in prison, and 37,000 cases of other various human rights violations.
“With the tools of state terror still in the hands of the Aquino administration, the same tools set-up by martial law, Rosales has to either be completely lacking in common sense when shown the evidence, either has the “selective amnesia” that Palatino pointed out, or has become a mere lapdog for the Aquino administration.” Added Estanislao. “It is a shame that a former victim of martial law has stooped so low. Given her background Rosales should be taking the side of the youth and students not becoming another puppeteer-ed mouthpiece for yet another inept head of state.”
SF CHRP completely condemns the comments of Rosales and calls her out for her lack of compassion and sympathy for human rights victims and the plight of youth and students today. All efforts must be taken in order to dismantle the tools of state terror under the de facto state of martial law that the Aquino administration continues to place the Filipino people in. SF CHRP stands by and supports all actions taken by all youth and student organizations, and supports the call of Anakbayan and the League of Filipino Students for a week of strikes, action, and protest.