Dr. Alex Montes, one of the Morong 43, made a good point in this morning’s ANC Headstart: Why did President Aquino release the health workers because of pressure from the public? He’s the president, he claims to know right from wrong, his family is a victim of human-rights violation — why be pressured to do what is right?
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Just like that, Rigoberto Tiglao, the mouthpiece and propagandist of the corrupt regime of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, sought to demolish me.
In his column in the Inquirer today, Tiglao talked about President Aquino’s Nobel-China fiasco, defending Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo. A paragraph in his column reads:
Mr. Aquino will use this fiasco though to get what he wants. This boo-boo will be blamed on Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo, whom he wanted to kick out from the time he assumed power. Already, the New York Times (and a colleague on this page) quoted an Aquino “senior adviser” as saying that Romulo decided on the boycott without telling him, a ridiculous claim to anybody who has worked with Romulo. The senior adviser is obviously message-maker Ricky Carandang, who has been using the New York Times’ local stringer since the elections as his media asset.
I don’t know what Tiglao meant by Carandang “using the New York Times’ local stringer since the elections as his media asset.” (To those wondering, I’m the only stringer in the Philippines of the Times so I’m pretty sure he was referring to me.) It doesn’t sound nice so I take that as an insult.
I’m not about to start discussing my sources here but, just to set the record straight, no one “uses” or “used” me at any time since I became a journalist. If Tiglao can show proof that Carandang or anybody has been “using” me, let us have it. It may help, of course, for him to read my blogs and stories about the Aquino presidency. If he gets the impression that I’m the Aquino administration’s or Carandang’s stooge, I should probably look for another job.
A job, I might add, that would be a million times more ethical than being the propagandist, apologist and toady to the most corrupt and most oppressive of regimes after the Marcos dictatorship that Tiglao claims to have fought.
Human Rights Watch urge Aquino to investigate Philippine military’s mistreatment of Morong 43, others
Philippines: Aquino’s Order to Free ‘Morong 43’ a Positive Step; Government Should Investigate Allegations of Mistreatment
(New York) – Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has taken a positive step by ordering the Justice Department to drop charges against the so-called “Morong 43″ detainees, Human Rights Watch said today. The government should initiate a civilian investigation of alleged mistreatment in military custody, Human Rights Watch said.
Military and police forces arrested the 26 women and 17 men on February 6, 2010, in Morong, Rizal province, accusing them of being trainees of the communist rebel New People’s Army. Police charged them with illegal possession of firearms and explosives. After being held for 12 weeks in military custody, the suspects were transferred to police custody in Manila. On December 10, Aquino ordered the Justice Department to drop the charges against the 43 suspects because they were based on illegally obtained evidence. The 43 suspects are awaiting a court order dismissing the charges and providing for their release.
“By ordering the release of the ‘Morong 43,’ President Aquino is telling security forces to uphold the law for arrests and detention,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “This is a step toward meeting Aquino’s promises to tackle injustice and impunity.”
The Morong 43 detainees told Human Rights Watch that at the time of their arrest, the authorities did not provide them the reasons for their arrest or inform them of their rights to remain silent or to obtain legal counsel. Such rights are guaranteed under the Philippine constitution. Some detainees described ill-treatment in military detention, such as being blindfolded and interrogated on and off for as long as 36 hours. Several detainees have filed complaints with the national Commission on Human Rights alleging torture and ill-treatment.
“The mistreatment of detainees will only end if the abuses are also investigated and prosecuted,” Pearson said. “Aquino should promptly order a criminal investigation into the allegations of torture and ill-treatment in military custody.”
“We feel that we did not violate anything so there is nothing to apologize for,” says a military spokesman.
Just to make sure I get this right: So what the military is saying is that its commander-in-chief, the president, was wrong when he ordered the withdrawal of charges? That President Aquino was referring to the Three Stooges when he said, and I quote, “We recognize that their right to due process was denied them… As a government that is committed to the rule of law and the rights of man, this cannot stand.”
When will these people take their heads out of their asses?
If the lives of Filipino drug traffickers on China’s death row were the real reason for Manila’s snub of the Nobel gala, the Philippine government should have stated that from the get-go. But no, it had to put forth the silly excuse that our ambassador to Oslo had a prior commitment.
The fact is, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo decided on the boycott unilaterally, disregarding its possible implications on the president i.e. that it would make him look silly to the world. Romulo put the president in a tight spot and so the administration had to come up with something.
Podcast on Morong 43 and what President Aquino can do to uphold human rights, now playing at http://bulatlat.com/main/?p=37013
Want to know why freeing Morong 43 is just pa-pogi by PNoy? He’s not convinced the military did wrong. That’s what he meant when he said yesterday that the military should not apologize to the illegally arrested and detained health workers because that is “too much already.” The president was just, in fact, forced to withdraw the charges because the military’s case against the health workers, as Karapatan’s Marie Hilao-Enriquez put it, “is inherently weak” and that he painted himself into a corner when he himself publicly said so.
Several countries will not be attending or sending representatives to the Nobel Peace Prize awarding ceremony in Oslo later this week to honor Chinese human-rights defender Liu Xiaobo. Among those that won’t attend are Afghanistan, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sudan, Tunisia, Ukraine, Venezuela, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
The Philippines? I get Cuba, Venezuela, Vietnam, Pakistan, but the Philippines?
Nobel snub bares foreign-policy rift; Aquino adviser slams Romulo for ‘clumsy attempt’ to please China
Alberto Romulo will be removed as foreign-affairs secretary by end of January — official
A story in today’s The New York Times details China’s reaction to the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo. Written by Michael Wines (with additional reporting from me and other colleagues at the paper), the article says that “in the two months since the Nobel committee honored Mr. Liu, China has waged an extraordinary and unprecedented campaign, domestically and internationally, to discredit the award and to dissuade other governments from endorsing it.”
Apparently, the Philippines was not spared from this campaign. The story quotes a senior Filipino adviser to Philippine President Noynoy Aquino as saying that Secretary Alberto G. Romulo of the Department of Foreign Affairs decided not to send a delegation to the Nobel Peace Prize awards rites on Friday “without telling us.”
The official, who talked to me on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the matter, called Romulo’s move to appease Beijing, which remained displeased with the Aug. 232 hostage-taking incident, “a clumsy attempt to balance the administration’s more distant stance on China.”
“This administration will be a voice for human rights in this part of the world,” my source said, “and now, this.”
Most of what follows did not make it to the NYT story, mainly because of space constraints:
The official told me that Romulo, secretary of the department since 2004 beginning with Aquino’s predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is “going off the reservation to try to please China.”
He said Romulo “is much more sympathetic with China than the Aquino administration, much more pro-China than the administration. We prefer to see a more balanced approach with regards to China.”
Romulo’s decision has put Aquino in an awkward position, the adviser said, especially since Aquino is “strong when it comes to Burma.” Aquino had earlier called for the military junta in Burma to release Aung Sang Suu Kyi. “This administration will be a voice for human rights in this part of the world,” my source said, “and now, this.”
Since the foreign-affairs department already announced that the Philippines would not attend the Nobel ceremony, the adviser said the Aquino administration “is forced to good” and that they would stick to the decision because “we don’t want to anger them anymore.”
Ellen Tordesillas, an investigative journalist with Vera Files, a Manila news outfit that specializes in foreign-policy reporting, said the non-attendance at the Nobel event “is clearly an effort by Manila to make amends to Beijing. It doesn’t want to ruffle more feathers at this time because the Chinese are still upset at us.”
The Aquino adviser said that while Manila obviously needs to appease Beijing because of the hostage crisis, what Romulo did “was a clumsy attempt to balance the administration’s more distant stance on China. The fact that Romulo is not exactly on the same page as the president leads to this clumsy attempt.”
This is not the first time that Romulo has expressed a position that is opposite to the Aquino administration’s. In interviews to the Manila press, Romulo was asked earlier this year if he favored an increased US presence in the Philippines and Southeast Asia and he replied no. “But the administration believes that increased US presence in Southeast Asia provides a counterpoint to China,” the Aquino adviser said.
The adviser said Romulo will be replaced as secretary of the foreign ministry by the end of January. “It will be a graceful exit but he will be gone by then,” he said.
A senior diplomat at the DFA, who talked to me on condition of anonymity, said “attendance at the awards ceremonies have always been optional and there is perhaps no need to put a political color as to who may or may not be there this year.”
The Philippine Supreme Court has just rendered as unconstitutional the Truth Commission formed by President Aquino to investigate the corruption allegations against former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
President Aquino complains that the press is ruining his lovelife. Poor guy. He should commiserate with the Morong 43, who have been complaining that he is ruining their lives with their continued detention based on an illegal arrest.
Today is the 300th day of President Aquino’s promise to distribute to farmers his family’s Hacienda Luisita.
http://bulatlat.com/main/luisita (Bulatlat.com’s Luisita page)
http://bulatlat.com/main/2010/04/27/video-documentary-noynoys-luisita/ (Bulatlat.com’s documentary on Hacienda Luisita and Noynoy Aquino.)