Arroyo should be in jail, account for EJKs during her term
We strongly condemn the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman to dismiss the last plunder complaint against former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and officials of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) over the alleged misuse of P73 million of the PCSO’s intelligence funds.The junking of the charges of plunder, malversation of public funds and graft against Arroyo came down while the Filipinos were busy watching the Southeast Asian Games and monitoring Typhoon “Tisoy.” But we should not let a sports event or a severe weather condition divert our attention from national issues that affect us all.
Lest we forget, President Duterte offered pardon to Arroyo before the Supreme Court acquitted the latter of plunder charges in 2016. The former president, on the other hand, thanked Mr. Duterte for the high court’s decision dismissing the plunder raps filed against her. It’s no wonder that the Ombudsman recently junked that last plunder charges against Arroyo, and it’s impossible not to think that Mr. Duterte had a hand in the decision. Evidently, the current administration has failed to give justice to the Filipino people and punish public officials who plundered the nation.Like Mr. Duterte, Arroyo should also be held accountable for imposing a fascist reign of terror through her counterinsurgency programs Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and 2. The human rights group Karapatan has documented 1,206 victims of extrajudicial killings (EJKs), and thousands of illegal arrests and other rights abuses, under these programs. And as we commemorated last Tuesday the International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners, we likewise condemn the special treatment given to known plunderers and human rights violators like the Arroyos and Marcoses, who enjoy freedom and comfort while hundreds of political prisoners are languishing in inhumane conditions in jail under the Duterte administration.We also call for the immediate release of Jaime “Diego” Padilla, the 72-year-old spokesperson of the New People’s Army-Southern Tagalog, who was illegally arrested while seeking medical attention, in compliance with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which state that those hors de combat (outside the fight) should be treated with humanity. Furthermore, Padilla is protected by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guidelines, or Jasig in his role as a peace consultant for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.Jail the plunderers! Release all the political prisoners!
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