The unbridled extrajudicial killings of journalists and activists raging the country is beginning to attract the attention of the international community. To save face, the Philippine government has said that it is open to receiving help in order to resolve this issue. Last week, an EU delegation invited by the governemnt arrived to help provide technical assistance to strengthen the capability of Philippine institutions to address the intensifying pattern of extrajudicial killings. The EU Needs Assessment Mission (EU-NAM), headed by Ambassador Alistair MacDonald, met with various government agenices and civil society organisations during its 10-day mission.
So what did Ambassador Alistair MacDonald have to say about the Philippine Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police?
“…(T)here is a great need for more awareness of human rights laws, of international humanitarian laws, of the law of armed conflict, of how to deal with civilians who are not bearing arms caught up in the conflict or the counterinsurgency campaign.” (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view_article.php?article_id=74005)
WOH. My father (Bayani Alcala) is probably turning in his grave right now and saying he knew that since Marcos’ time, but that it would happen again under a so-called democratic regime — he didn’t see that one coming. That there have been more than 800 victims since Arroyo assumed power in 2001, as what the human rights group Karapatan declares, is simply mind-boggling.
This ‘gap analysis’ was welcomed by police and military officials — a very different reaction to what United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston received, when he described the AFP as being in a ‘state of denial’ over the issue in his scathing report on the extrajudicial killings.
Scary. That’s my reaction. This conclusion only substantiates the claims made by the Left that blames the military and the government’s counter-insurgency policy as the cause of the extrajudicial killings.
Soldiers and police are supposed to protect the people, but if they have the vaguest notions of human rights and are in dire need of ‘training’, then I fear the worst. Governments are supposed to take the people in its wings — opposition or not — but if it turns away when those that disagree with it are murdered, then it ceases to be my government.