Philippines ‘Witness’ Recounts Killings
Thanks to Jack Stephens of The Mustard Seed.
Bayan to Sec. Puno: Impunity, patronage, not who appoints police officers, behind Ampatuan massacre
November 27, 2009
Multisectoral group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) today criticized Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ronaldo Puno for obfuscating the issues why the Ampatuan massacre happened.
Puno, in a press briefing Thursday, said that he intends to ask Congress to amend the law giving local government officials the power to choose top police officers assigned in their area. He said that the Ampatuans apparently became “too close” with top local police officers in Maguindanao.
Four senior policemen in Maguindanao have been implicated in the mass murder which claimed at least 57 victims, including women, journalists, and human rights lawyers that is being widely blamed on the Ampatuan clan and its private army.
“Let us remind Puno that the reason why the Ampatuans became the monster that they are today is because the Arroyo administration coddled and nurtured it for its own political interests. That the local police force and the military-controlled “civilian volunteer organizations” became part of the Ampatuan private army is Malacañang’s own doing,” Bayan chairperson Dr. Carol Pagaduan-Araullo said.
Araullo said that as long as the system and culture of patronage politics exist, centralizing the power to appoint police officials assigned to local government units to the national government will not address the problem.
“In a case like the despised Arroyo administration, which has used patronage politics to consolidate its control of power and has deeply cultivated the pervading climate of impunity, the immediate consequence of Puno’s proposal is to further bolster Malacañang’s power over local governments and police. It can use this against unfavored or uncooperative local government officials and also to influence the outcome of the upcoming elections,” said Araullo.
The Bayan leader reiterated that the key to avoid a repeat of the Ampatuan massacre is to end once and for all the climate of impunity created under the Arroyo administration.
“This means placing behind bars not only the triggermen such as those in the Ampatuan massacre but the masterminds. This should apply to all the cases of extra-judicial killings and other cases of human rights violations that involved state security forces and their armed civilian units. Unfortunately, this demand will likely fall on deaf ears since the highest government officials are culpable,” Araullo added.
As an immediate move, Araullo dared government to decisively dismantle all the private armies and armed civilian groups in the country, which it has legitimized under the guise of counter-insurgency efforts and suspending, investigating and prosecuting police and military officials involved in human rights atrocities