By ABIGAIL B. ANONGOS
A carnival of tyrants
Butchers and lords
All but the jester
All but the jester
Bit of twist from my July 23 Facebook post after GMA’s ‘installation’ as House Speaker. The SONA did not even happen. It was not so long ago that this new House Speaker rigged the elections to her favor, executed Oplan Bantay Laya, pushed for Charter Change and introduced an anti-terrorism law.
Less than a week of her house speakership, a warrant of arrest is issued against former Bayan Muna representatives Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casiño, former Gabriela Women’s Party representative and presently NAPC convenor Liza Maza, including former Anakpawis rep and DAR secretary Rafael Mariano. The warrant of arrest is based on trumped-up murder charges filed by the Arroyo regime in 2006.
It feels like 2006 all over again. Two days from this article’s date of publish we count the 12 years since the assassination of Alyce O. Claver in Tabuk, Kalinga. It was broad daylight. She and Dr. Chandu Claver were bringing their children to school when the ambush happened. They Alyce and Chandu were local members of the CPA Kalinga chapter. Chandu was then the BAYAN MUNA chair of the province. A few years back, their two eldest daughters visited home and were very kind to pop by the CPA office. They have grown and have surpassed the difficult years. They are excelling in their chosen fields.
It feels like 2006 all over again. Two months ago we remembered elder-leader and activist Rafael Markus Bangit who was shot in Isabela, en route to Baguio to enrol his oldest son in college. His children are grown now, the three young men musically inclined like their father. The youngest and only girl the pride of the brood.
This coming September 17, 2018 will also be the 10th year since the enforced disappearance of Cordillera activist and CPA pioneer James Balao. James was abducted in September 2008, during the Arroyo regime. And it was not an isolated case because the killings, abductions, human rights violations were taking place at a nationwide scale.
Records of human rights organisations documented 763 killings of activists under the Arroyo regime. 96 of them were indigenous activists. Until now, for Alyce, for Makoy, for James and the 763 slain under the said regime, we continue to cry out for justice.
It is unnerving, the similarities of the Arroyo regime and the present one. But in the case of the current regime the human rights violations are by far larger in scale, more brutal and brutish, more systematic and institutionalised. Both are brazen in executing their orders, with the latter infamous for his misogyny; crass and vulgar language. Now, the two together is a recipe for monstrosity. We can only expect a turn of events at the worst, for the worst. It is the deadliest time for land and environmental defenders, especially indigenous activists in the Philippines. Global Witness reports that the Philippines ranks second to Brazil for the most number of killings of land and environmental defenders.
On the other hand, I think we must not lose sight of what we, the people, have achieved in defense of human rights during the Arroyo regime. Remember the Stop the Killings Network. Remember HUSTISYA. Remember each protest in Baguio City or wherever you may have been at that time. Try to remember if you were in any of these protests. Remember the outpouring of support and solidarity from the international community, remember the courage of people’s movement.
In the present situation, difficult as it is, let us also do the same. Be inspired by the people’ s concerted efforts in defense of human rights. Better yet, be part of these efforts. The United People’s SONA was resoundingly successful, and if you were there you should be proud to have added your voice in denouncing injustice and asserting human rights. If we were there but only in the sidelights, be bold and take charge. If you were there and scoffed at the protesters and their calls, surely there is something wrong—the good news is, we can make this right.
I thank Luchie Maranan for allowing me to close my flurry of thoughts this week with her poem that captures the moment and the challenge: