The Arroyo regime’s “all out war” against “the Left” is reaping results it did not expect. What the policy’s instigators did not anticipate most of all is the outrage the killing of political activists is provoking in the Philippines and abroad. Neither, it seems, did they foresee the resentment it is encouraging.
The policy is driving Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s sub-zero approval ratings into a deeper hole. It isn’t earning the country the distinction of being the world’s biggest source of housemaids as Mrs. Arroyo hopes. Instead its government is being exposed as a coddler of thugs and assassins. The word is also spreading that the same government is unable and unwilling to implement its own laws as well as the international covenants to which it is a signatory.
Wrong. Almost uniformly have various groups in the Philippines condemned the killings. The condemnation has become one more point of unity in the common and growing antipathy for the Arroyo regime. Foreign groups like Amnesty International and the Asian Human Rights Commission, meanwhile, have joined a growing international clamor against the blatant violations by the Philippine government of constitutionally- guaranteed rights and of the right to life among others in such covenants as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Arroyo regime has dismissed the protests of local and foreign groups that have expressed concern over the continuing murder, torture, abduction, and harassment of worker and peasant leaders, lawyers, students, doctors, local officials, community activists, priests and pastors, and common folk. It has described as unfair such well-documented reports as that of Amnesty International, and as “biased” those of international fact-finding groups.
The facts speak for themselves, however. No amount of denial can make the number of those killed –over 700–any less. Neither can they forever hide from the public the rampaging terror in Central Luzon a soldiery trained as an occupation force has imposed on men and women, and on young and old. Eventually the entire country and the rest of the world will recognize the Arroyo regime for what it is: the exhumed version of the Marcos dictatorship, only worse.
But there is another sense in which its miscalculations are turning into a boomerang the regime has thrown against itself.
The premise of the attacks on militants is that they are strangers in the communities they are based who impose their political views on the citizenry.
Just how wrong that assumption is was recently demonstrated when over 7,000 people braved military and police harassment to attend the funeral of Alice Claver, the wife of Bayan Muna official Dr. “Chandu” Claver, and herself a well-loved Bayan Muna community activist in the Cordillera.
The killing of activists and militants who have deep roots in their communities and who are regarded as authentic servants of the people has thus provoked further resentment and hatred of the military and the government it serves.
Equally flawed is the mindless assumption of military and police thugs that “winning hearts and minds” can be achieved through forced attendance in lectures and seminars conducted by soldiers whose condemnation of “the enemies of the state” is belied by their own use of force against, and abuse of, the very population they claim to be protecting.
The irony is that there are simple lessons in these wrongful assumptions a less intellectually-challenged regime, and a brainier police and military, would have learned from the martial law experience. These are—repeat after me, now—that (1) attacking the very population whose hearts and minds you claim to want to win will win you only a harvest of resentment, hatred and further rebellion, and (2) the only way to compete with community activists is by serving the community rather than slapping residents around.
That the Arroyo regime and its military and police henchmen have not learned lessons so simple only simpletons could fail to absorb them, speaks volumes about its sheer incapacity to understand what drives the poor into rebellion. It also demonstrates how far it will go in its greed for power, wealth and privilege. For in the end and beyond all the rhetoric, greed is what the ongoing destruction of Philippine communities and the entire nation is all about.