THE following is the introduction to a report titled “The Killing Goes On” of Western NGO, Amnesty International (AI), very slightly redacted for purposes that will be revealed towards the end of this column.
AI report starts
“At least 550 people, all of them unarmed, have been killed by government or government-backed forces in the Philippines. The authorities have frequently sought to portray the victims as legitimate targets in their long-running campaign to defeat armed opposition groups.
But the facts tell a different story. Whole families have been gunned down. Villagers working in their fields have been shot dead. Women have been raped by gangs of soldiers before being killed. The most inhuman forms of torture, including castration, have been inflicted on people targeted for death.
No section of society has escaped, although the socially and economically disadvantaged and the politically weak have been the most vulnerable. The armed opposition has also been responsible for political killings. The victims have included residents of rural communities, trade unionists, government officials and opposition group mem-bers suspected of spying for the military.
Political killings were being committed on a large scale and that they had become the most serious human rights problem in the country. This report shows the extent to which the killings go on.
Those responsible for extrajudicial executions have included members of the Philippine Army. the national police, militia units known and authorized civilian groups. Also involved have been semi-official and unofficial paramilitary groups, including anti-communist vigilante groups known to function with the acquiescence of, or in collusion with, formal security forces.
Some of the killings have been particularly brutal. In July, two women suspected of belonging to an armed opposi-tion group were killed after being arrested by a group of 50 soldiers and civilian militia members. After being tied and kicked by the soldiers, the commanding captain slashed and stabbed the women’s ears with a hunting knife. Both women were raped by more than half of the group of armed men. The next day they were stabbed to death and buried near a river.
A man detained at a military checkpoint in February was later found dead. Police said he had been shot when he had tried to grab a gun while under arrest. An autopsy revealed that he had been shot 28 times and that his arms had been broken. The back of his head was shattered and wounds indicated that bullets had been fired near his genitals.
Many of those killed have been children, including infants and the very elderly. On 3 August, 19 members of a Muslim family were lined up outside their home and shot dead by soldiers. The victims included a pregnant wom-an, six children aged between one and 13 years and two of the children’s grandparents. The soldiers claimed they had come to arrest a member of the family who was suspected of being a Muslim rebel.
Extrajudicial executions are part of a broader pattern of serious human rights violations in the Philippines. Hun-dreds of people have ‘disappeared’ in police or military custody and a significant number of the ‘disappeared’ are known to have been killed or tortured. The practice of ‘disappearance’ itself contributes to the incidence of arbi-trary killing and torture. People held in unacknowledged, secret detention, without access to family or lawyers, are particularly at risk of being killed or tortured. The risks are intensified in situations, such as that in the Philippines, where police or military forces feel free to commit such violations without fear of punishment.
Amnesty International has also documented other serious human rights violations in the Philippines. Scores of po-litical detainees have alleged that they have been tortured or ill-treated while held in custody for investigation. Leading military and government figures endorsed moves to restore the death penalty for so-called heinous crimes, including political offences such as rebellion and subversion.
This report focuses on extrajudicial executions and complements previous reports which have detailed ‘disappear-ance’ and torture in the Philippines. It shows how particular groups of people, such as trade unionists, human rights lawyers, religious leaders and peasant activists, have been targeted. It includes case studies of 85 people who were killed by government or government-backed forces, and of several others killed by armed opposition groups.” End of AI report
AI report ends here
No. This report on gruesome human rights violations in the Philippines isn’t about the situation since President Duterte assumed office in 2016 and launched his war against illegal drugs. It’s not even a report on the situation during Martial Law.
The report was issued in February 1, 1992 and involves the period 1986 to 1992, during the presidency of Corazon Aquino, whom Western media dubbed as the Saint of Democracy, and local church leaders even want the Vatican to canonize as a genuine saint.
You can access the report yourself as it is posted in AI’s website, its URL https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/asa35/001/1992/en/.
My point is the following: There will always be human rights violations in conditions in which there is an insurgency, or as in the past three years or so, there is a war against a national threat, such as the illegal drug trade that has gone out of control—even involving the highest ranks of government and the police — during President Aquino’s administration.
The instances related by the AI report were never investigated by the Cory administration. I suspect though that the AI interviewed Communist Party activists, who of course exaggerated their experiences to pursue their revolu-tionary propaganda aims. Believe me, these AI researchers are so gullible, mostly bleeding-heart, straight-out-of-college people who think they can change the world. I know, I was interviewed by AI researchers when I was de-tained as a political prisoner in the 1970s.
In the fog of war, in any kind of war, the beasts in men—in many cases due simply to the terror of facing death—overcome their moral compass.
The deep problem of human rights violations reports like the AI’s is also this: The concern of state-less organiza-tions like AI is to uphold an individual’s absolute human rights. The priority of the state though is the survival of the nation consisting of millions of people, not of the rights of an individual.
Thus, even a purportedly civilized nation, when it felt threatened in reality or in delusion – such as the US commit-ted horrendous human rights violations in its war against the Vietnamese people, and then in Iraq and now Syria. Have the AI, the International Criminal Court and those New York-based human rights groups ever protested the kidnapping and torture of suspected terrorists detained for years in the US Guantanamo prison?
In our country—in contrast to a few countries such as Pinochet’s Chile (ironically helped by the Americans)—there has never been a state policy of wholesale killings and detention of the opposition by any administration. Not even during Martial Law, which I will prove, incontrovertibly, in a series of columns next week.
In that series, I will prove that the myth of massive state-sponsored human rights violations during Martial Law has been intensively propagated by the Communist Party through an unholy alliance with the Yellow Cult, since such a perception had been practically its sole excuse for waging a war to topple a government.
Since that myth of a fascist state undertaking massive human rights violations has been believed by a substantial part of the intelligentsia, the communists are trying to claim that Duterte is simply Marcos reincarnated, which gives them the propaganda weapon, the reason for their very existence, and, importantly, to get sympathizers for their plot to seize power, even among those who abhor atheist communism as a totalitarian ideology.