Gerardo "Gerry" Cristobal           Bishop Alberto Ramento          Jesus "Buth" Servida


10 December 2009

On the occasion of the 61st anniversary of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Arroyo government’s human rights record remains tainted with blood. The Maguindanao Massacre that took the lives of 57 individuals including 30 media practitioners is just the tip of the iceberg of Arroyo’s long list of human rights violations since she came into power in 2001.

The statistics on extrajudicial killings will undoubtedly increase as the country approaches the 2010 national elections and while Mrs. Arroyo remains at the helm of the government.

The gruesome killings that the Ampatuans committed in Maguindanao has suddenly put the Arroyo government into a defenseless and, again, shameless position in the eyes of the Filipino public and the International community. Confronted by a massive outrage, she had to distance herself from the heinous crime committed by the Ampatuans, her staunch and closest ally in Mindanao who has the same political obsession she has – to be in power infinitely.

However, the people are not convinced that the imposition of martial law in Maguindanao will be effective in the government’s effort of going after the perpetrators and hauling them into the bar of justice. Martial law will only silence the people of Maguindanao and the witnesses, but not the perpetrators. Besides, the perpetrators and the martial law implementors are one and the same.

The Arroyo Government should be held primarily accountable for the Maguindanao massacre in the same manner that she is liable for the hundreds of victims of political killings. The coercive character and the political invincibility of the Ampatuans in Maguindanao is Mrs. Arroyos’ own making, with them being her hatchet men in the fraud-tainted 2004 presidential and the 2007 elections. Her government created the battalion-sized private army of the Ampatuans and supplied them with high-powered firearms.

The culture of violence with impunity and the low regard for human rights by this government had fanned the fire on the murderous mind-set of warlord politicians like the Ampatuans.

Today, we join the nation in seeking swift justice for the Maguindanao massacre victims in the same manner that the Workers Assistance Center (WAC) has been waiting in vain for the much-delayed justice for our beloved chairperson, Bishop Alberto Ramento (PIC), a known critic of the Arroyo Government and a strong advocate of workers’ rights who was murdered in October 3, 2006.

Justice has also yet to be served to Cavite labor activists Gerardo Cristobal and Buth Servida who were both killed in March 10, 2008 and December 11, 2006, respectively, for espousing militant unionism and opposing the no union, no strike policy in Cavite.

We must end the prevailing culture of violence and impunity. The people should vigorously and collectively pursue genuine justice for all the victims of human rights abuses and political killings.

The senseless killings must be stopped and swift and genuine justice should start now! ###