Human Rights After the First Days of the Aquino Administration
(This article was published in 1986 by the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) “Philippine Human Rights Update”)
No measure of brutality could underscore military abuses committed against thousands of defenseless civilians in both city and hinterland areas where popular protest mounted against despotic and bloodthirsty Marcos regime. Last year, almost all totals from most categories of human rights violations soared to unprecedented levels in what clearly resulted from the Marcos regime’s last ditch attempt to perpetuate itself in power in the face of insurmountable protest.
Defeated finally by the millions who poured out into the streets last February, the hated Marcoses together with their cronies fled and left behind massive foreign debts shackled to the country’s emaciated economy, notwithstanding voluminous cases of human rights violations awaiting justice.
The Aquino administration brought bright prospects for human rights in the country by releasing political prisoners and by creating an unimpeachable body, the Presidential Committee for Human Rights, to investigate all transgression of human rights.
But hardly had all political prisoners been released when grumblings from within the Reform the AFP (RAM) turned to forceful proddings not to release the detainees, particularly the so-called hard-core communists. One senior top brass RAMist warned the new government that the releases would “demoralize” the troops.
Post-Marcos dictatorship campaigns for justice initiated by aggrieved relatives and victims of military abuses, particularly the ongoing campaigns by FIND, SELDA, MARTYR and by peasant in strife-torn areas, had yet to win any decisive result when new cases of human rights violations began to be reported anew with alarming frequency throughout the country. One very recent case involved a member of FIND who was intimidated by a military man to stop pursuing the leads on her son’s abduction and disappearance. Most of the cases, however, were of the same vicious violations engendered during the Marcos regime.
Indeed, widespread euphoria over the erstwhile regime’s ouster had barely dissipated when militarization again wrought havoc across the land and notched more violations of human rights. Intensified counter-insurgency operations is still the order of the day in Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Cagayan Valley. Negros and in suspected NPA strongholds all over the country.