US scholar: ‘Human rights abuses’ under Cory worse than under Marcos

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JUAN Ponce Enrile’s recent claims on Martial Law in his interview by Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has thrown the Yellows and Reds into paroxysms of rage against the respected senator. The unkindest comment was from the editor in chief of Philippine Star who, instead of presenting facts to debunk Enrile’s claims in her column, branded him “a senile man with symptoms of dementia” who “should be tossed into a regular jail pronto.

Such is the sad state of journalism in this country. Such vitriol is proof of Jose Ma. Sison and his Communist Party’s victory in having Filipinos toe their propaganda line, helped by the Yellow Cult.

The communists’ fabrication in Hitler’s style of repeating the Big Lie again and again: “Communists and its NPAs arrested or killed in the course of their armed struggle against the reactionary State are victims of human rights violations.”

Lazy or naïve journalists — and unscrupulous ones fabricating false data — have swallowed the lie. A CNN Philippines article was entitled “8 things Juan Ponce Enrile, Bongbong Marcos got wrong about martial law.” There it claimed: “More than 3,000 were killed during the Marcos regime, data from human rights group Amnesty International show.” I have copies of the AI reports from 1974 to 1981: Nowhere did the AI make that claim.

That article also claimed: “A 1974 Amnesty International report also said Enrile ‘admitted privately to the Archbishop of Manila that incidents of torture against martial law detainees had indeed occurred.’”

That’s not Marcos, but Cory.

The biased-for-the-leftist-view report of course didn’t report the actual AI phrase which was “reportedly admitted,” which means it was hearsay on the part of AI. It also didn’t quote the very next sentence after that: “Mr. Enrile also said some colonels and other high officials had been court martialed.” That is evidence that there was no state policy for torturing dissidents, but did occur as aberrations that happens all the time in all countries during armed rebellions. 

Victors’ narrative
We will never mature to become a strong nation if we refuse to accept facts that give us a different interpretation from the narrative victors of a particular political clash have disseminated — in this case the account of Martial Law propagated by the Yellows and Reds who toppled Marcos in 1986.

Totally ignored in the allegations of massive human rights violations during the Martial Law period is the undeniable fact that the Communist Party and the Moro separatists waged an armed war against the Republic.

While there were indeed tragic horrific cases of military and police abuses against civilians, inevitable in all armed conflicts since ancient times and in every country that experienced such wars, most of the so-called killings and human rights abuses were casualties in this war launched by communists and Moro separatists against the State, which of course defended itself.

Proof of this is that even after Marcos fell in 1986, such “human rights violations” continued, as Cory Aquino helped the insurgency to surge, naively believing the communists who fought Marcos would continue to be supportive of her.

Such violations were during the regime of Corazon Aquino, purportedly the icon of Philippine democracy whom a few fanatics even lobbied the Vatican to declare a saint.

Such a conclusion isn’t just my opinion. It is based on data presented in Richard Kessler’s book Rebellion and Repression in the Philippines (1989: Yale University). Kessler is an American national security and foreign affairs expert. His last position before he retired recently was director of the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Kessler’s data, however, doesn’t really report “human rights violations” as usually defined as those against innocent civilians, but reflect the arrests and casualties of the NPA and its other fronts, since these were reports by the Task Force Detainees, which the communists set up and controlled.

Kessler presented data in his book to point out that “human rights abuses” — i.e. casualties in the insurgency — had not at all subsided even after Cory Aquino assumed power until 1988, the last year for which data was available.

Kessler’s data is shown in this column (Table 5.1), scanned directly from the book and is unedited except for the arrows to emphasize that the data involves the Marcos and Aquino regimes. (See table above.)

International groups, such as Amnesty International and the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights, issued reports in 1988 that suggested that the human rights situation (under the Aquino regime) was “at least as bad as it had been under Marcos” (emphasis mine). As table 5.1 indicates, human rights violations — always a problem in the Philippines — did not cease with democracy’s return.” (p. 136).

I summarize Kessler’s data in the table below:

However, we would just be making an inane apples-and-oranges comparison if we just looked at the totals, since these do not take into account the fact that the Marcos cases span 11 years against Cory’s three.

To evaluate how bad the human rights situation really was during the comparative regimes, the average per year should be taken for the years under Marcos and those under Aquino.

There were three times more arrests per year under Cory than under Marcos: 3,627 against 1,960. The average of those killed and disappeared during Cory’s watch was 244 annually, which isn’t too far from Marcos’ 296.

Kessler in his book even gave vivid examples of real human rights abuses under Cory. One example:

“In April 1987 a member of the United Farmers’ Organization was kidnapped by a local vigilante in Cebu City, her body, with her head and leg hacked off, was recovered over a week later. In May, a 30-year-old woman, eight months pregnant, and another young woman, disappeared. Their bodies were later discovered, headless and stabbed multiple times. That pregnant woman’s abdomen had been slashed open and the fetus ripped out. One day in June, a farmer hoeing his field in Negros was attacked by several vigilantes, who accused him of being a communist rebel. He was decapitated and disemboweled. They took the head to the local military commander who told them that the man was innocent. The head was abandoned in a ditch, to be recovered later by the man’s wife” (Kessler, page 136).

Vigilantism, other than rogue police or military men, is one of the main causes of human rights abuses under any government. As Kessler explained in 1989, observing the first three years after Marcos fell:

“Vigilante groups had sprung up all over the country with the tact or direct support of the military and the government during 1987 after a year of relative calm in the insurgency. In Mindanao were the Alsa Masa in Davao City, the Eagle’s Squad, the United People for Peace; in Negros, the Philippine Constabulary Forward Command; and in Cebu, the Tadtad and the Citizens’ Army against Communism; even in Manila, the police began giving weapons’ training to civilians forming neighborhood patrols.”

Kessler concluded of the Cory Aquino regime: “The government appeared powerless to restore the rule of law.”


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