Let’s talk IMPUNITY, Mr. President

Dear President Aquino,

I don’t know where you find the gall to speak of the abuses of martial law when your government continues to kill innocent civilians across the Philippines.

Saan mo kinukuha ang kapal ng mukha na magtalumpati tungkol sa karapatang pantao?

On the eve of People Power, which swept your mother to the Presidency, you recall your father’s suffering and your sorrows – forgetting the killings, torture, rape and arson faced by Lumad in Mindanao and other oppressed Filipinos.

DO YOU REMEMBER THEM, MR PRESIDENT? Your troops stood by as militia forces killed school head Emerito Samarca, Dionel Campos and Juvenal Sanso in Lianga, Surigao del Sur last year. Children saw their fathers, uncles and teacher die. (Photo courtesy of Kilab Multimedia)

You twit your predecessor, likening her nine-year rule to the “dark years” of a strongman we ousted after thousands of murders and disappearances, illegal arrests and torture.

Yes, we remember Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s abuses, too. We remember activists falling one by one to the bullet. We remember Jovito Palparan’s bloody trail. We remember her calling him her hero.

Yet under your tuwid na daan, attacks on the Lumad continue even in church sanctuaries far from their besieged mountain communities. Do you remember how your ally, Nancy Catamco, came last year with cops and militia to “rescue” the Lumad in Haran?

‘Saving the Lumad’ Cops summoned to Davao City by the Chair of the House of Representatives Committee on Indigenous Peoples to “rescue” lumad fleeing military abuses in their mountain communities injured 15 of the displaced folk and destroyed a number of temporary shelters. (Photo by Karlo Manlupig)

Your government shares the Marcosian tendency to give new meanings to words. He had “salvage”.

Under your government, “rescue” means delivering people to their tormentors. Do you remember how your hand-picked successor, Mar Roxas, told Lumad evacuees in Tandag to seek help from the military they were fleeing?

You talk of Marcos’ impunity and heap scorn on his son’s refusal to acknowledge the atrocities of martial law. Yet you, too, are as blind to the truth of human rights abuses.

Parishoners at the Redemptorist Church in Baclaran view posters of Lumad killed under President Benigno Aquino III’s administration,

You have ignored entreaties from allies, rights groups, UN agencies and a cardinal to pull out rampaging military and paramilitary forces from Lumad communities.

Do you know that 30 children have been killed by your Armed Forces in the last six years, Mr. President? That’s almost half of the 70 Lumad slain by your government.

Last year, you rebuffed a Lumad delegation led by a frail woman chieftain.

bibiBai Bibyaon Ligkayan Bigkay is almost 90, Mr. President, but she can tell you of her people’s experience with impunity.

In the 1970s, Bai Bibi saw family and friends die when Ferdinand Marcos gave blessings for loggers to take their ancestral lands. Today, her people are refugees, under siege by firms that want to set up mines and plantations.

Today, Bai Bibi grieves for five children injured in an attack of arson of their Davao refugee camp, and another child killed by the paramilitary last month.

Saan ka kumukuha ng kapal ng mukha?

When you beat your chest, remember these: You allowed mining firms to fund the militia who now rampage across the land.

You refused to heed political allies who warned of growing abuses by a militia controlled by your Armed Forces.

You shrugged off the murders of a school head and two indigenous leaders in front of children – as your troops stood nearby, doing nothing.

You ignored the Commission on Human Rights findings that your soldiers summarily executed two children, a blind old man and two other young adults in Bukidnon.

You stood by, silent, as your generals hosted murderers in Camp Aguinaldo and accompanied them to Congress, where they bedazzled your pet lawmakers with a theory about god given rights to kill civilians who espouse “foreign ideas.”

You are quick to take slight over the silliest things. And you keep silent in the face murders?

Saan ka kumukuha ng kapal ng mukha?

You think People Power’s legacy is only for your friends? You think human rights are only for those who sing hosannas to your crooked path?

Nine of ten Lumad children have never been to school. Mr. President. And yet  in the last two years your AFP and their militia dogs have torched or closed down some dozens of alternative schools funded partly buy churches.

Children bereft of their schools. Childred dead. Children maimed. Children fleeing homes in the dead of night. Their parents dead, tortured, hunted.

Thirty years after the fall of a dictator, I see another tyrant in Malacanang. You may not be in the realm of Marcos, but we didn’t fight for two decades, didn’t go to EDSA just mini tinpot dictators could rule this country again.

I no longer think the problem is ignorance or an attention-challenged brain, Mr. President. Your every act of commission or omission on the Lumad issue has been geared to offering fat cats a free pass to ancestral lands protected by law — as Marcos did.

Saan ka kumukuha ng kapal ng mukha?

* featured image by Kilab Multimedia

2 thoughts on “Let’s talk IMPUNITY, Mr. President

  1. Reblogged this on kwentokoto and commented:
    Rebloggin this post with the hope that somehow,the president would read it. Somehow it could open his mind to the realities of Lumad life. Somehow it could open his heart to their plight.


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