March 26, 2007 Monday
Administration of President Arroyo is worse than the Marcos government it had tried in 1980 according to the six-member jury on the Permanent People’s Tribunal.
The jury found the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo government, the George W. Bush government and their collaborators guilty of gross violations of human rights, economic and social rights and transgression of the national independence of the Filipino people.
During the time of Marcos and the present government, Jury President Francois Houtart said that the jury found very similar situations.
According to Houtart, “during Marcos, the whole world knew that there was a dictatorship and it is expected that there will be violations of human rights. Today democracy, which is perhaps the reason why it is less known in the rest of the world that today’s situation is similar to martial law, thirty years ago.”
The tribunal will hold the Arroyo administration liable if “anything happens to the witnesses that testified,” Houtart said.
PPT Secretary General Gianni Tognoni, speaking on behalf of the jurors, said that the verdict was unanimous due to the overpowering evidence presented. Tognoni added the jury did not have a moment of doubt as to the guilt of Mrs. Arroyo and Bush during the negotiations.
The jurors also denounced as “unacceptable” the inclusion of the Philippine government under the Arroyo administration in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). The inclusion of the Philippines, the jurors said, demoralizes the credibility of the United Nations particularly in human rights, and is “an intolerable offense” to the victims.
Houtart said that although the judgment may be legally non-binding, it is nevertheless “morally binding.”
The judgment will be transmitted to the United Nations, the International Court of Justice, the European Parliament and various foreign governments.
Tognoni said that the transmittal to these bodies will be a major step toward focusing world attention on the human rights crisis in the Philippines.
He added that world opinion will add more pressure to the US-supported Arroyo administration to stop the killings.
Japanese juror Oda Makoto, a well-known novelist and social activist, apologized to the Filipinos for not knowing what has been happening in the Philippines since he sat on the jury that tried the Marcos government in 1980.
Malaysian juror Irene Fernandez, a lawyer, social development expert and head of Tenaganita, wished that liberation will come soon for the Filipinos.
Sen. Ana Marie “Jamby” Madrigal said that Mrs. Arroyo deserves the conclusion.
She said that, “I hope Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will be made accountable for crimes against humanity by the international community.”
Jose Maria Sison, the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, compared Mrs. Arroyo to a devil dwarf. She stated that, “You know a devil dwarf does mischief, all that’s bad. Marcos being a dictator is a giant, while Gloria, no matter how big her voice, is a pip squeak.”
Around 200 people gathered at the Pax Christikerk in the Hague, The Netherlands for the announcement of the verdict and for show of solidarity.
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