Friday, July 24, 2009

A Failing Grade for President Macapagal-Arroyo

I read in the newspapers Melissa Roxas' account of her abduction and torture by alleged military men who accused her of being involved with communists. This brought back memories of my own harrowing experience 36 years ago under the Marcos dictatorial regime. On Sept. 21, 1973 - one year after the declaration of martial law - I was picked up by intelligence agents, tortured for a week, and detained for seven months in a military camp in Cebu. I was just one of the many victims of human rights violation. My confrere, Fr. Rudy Romano, was less fortunate - his body has never been found. When Marcos was deposed and democracy was restored, I expected that torture would be a thing in the past.

I am very upset that this practice continues even today under the presidency of Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo. The military under her command continues to use the methods of the former dictator to supposedly protect democracy. In one of her previous State of the Nation Address, she even praised General Palparan who had been accused of torture and extrajudicial killings in his counter-insurgency campaign. Another practice that was prevalent during martial law which continues today is the summary execution of suspected criminals. During martial law the perpetrators were the "secret marshalls." Today we have death squads who are allegedly sponsored by local government officials. The president has failed to ensure the rule of law and the respect of human rights in this country. She has also failed to solve the insurgency problem and bring about peace. She has failed to stamp out corruption at all levels of government including the military. She herself has been accused of corruption and cheating in the last election. She is no better than the late dictator.

If I were asked to give a grade for her 9 years as a president, I won't hesitate to give her a failing grade. I was filled with hope and euphoria when she took over as president following EDSA II. Now I only feel revulsion.

This coming Monday she will be delivering her State of the Nation Address. I hope it will truly be her last - unless she follows the late dictator and succeeds in prolonging her stay in power by changing the constitution. If she harbors these intentions she should beware. She will face the wrath of the people. She will share the same fate as Marcos. I will be one of those who will strive to end her rule even if it means going through what I experienced 36 years ago.

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