Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has formed another task force, described as a “high level” one, against political violence. The task force supersedes the police’s task force Usig which she also created for the same purpose.
Mrs. Arroyo issued Administrative Order 211 on the heels of the final report by United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston on the extra-judicial killings that have multiplied in number and frequency since 2001. AO 211, however, includes those killings occasioned by partisan politics in the task force’s coverage.
New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark may have been “impressed,” but it’s not likely that most Filipinos were.
Here was the most authoritarian leader the Philippines has ever had since Ferdinand Marcos declaring , albeit indirectly, the members of Burma’s ruling military junta “forces of authoritarianism,” and demanding the release of oppositionist Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.
It was an old refrain which she’s intoned whenever it suits her, but Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is right: “Many people are poor because there are Filipino leaders who place politicking and their self-interests and ambitions above [the interests] of the nation.”
It’s not exactly a brilliant formulation, but one gets the point, although some will argue that it’s not “many people” who’re poor, but “most Filipinos” (the government says 30 percent, but some estimates say between 67 to 80 percent of the population are poor). The “leaders” Mrs. Arroyo referred to are also most of the time self-proclaimed ones who qualify as “leaders” only because of their official positions. They have neither the vision, the moral compass nor the capacity for self-sacrifice of the real leaders this country needs to pull much of its population out of the deepening pit of poverty to which they have been condemned.
It was political censorship of the worst kind, although its officers deny it, and insist that the National Press Club (NPC) is “apolitical.” The NPC defaced, via the services of an “artist” who should remain forever obscure, the press freedom mural it itself commissioned from the Neo-Angono Artists’ Collective. The changes included, among others:
(1) Removing a statement of the International Federation of Journalists which warned against the effects of the anti-terror, or “Human Security” act, on press freedom;