Monday, September 04, 2006

Criminals both?

Criminals both?

‘Clearly the intent is to distract attention from the extra-judicial killings taking place in the here and now.’

The military said the evidence that the communist rebels were behind the killing of those they had suspected as government spies is far stronger than that linking soldiers and policemen in the current spate of murders targeting militants and journalists.

Capt. Ramon Zagala, deputy chief of the military’s public information office, said they have witnesses tagging communist party founder Jose Ma. Sison as having given the order to purge suspected DPAs (deep penetration agents). Fr. Romeo Intengan, S.J., mentor of national security adviser Norberto Gonzales, chimed in with the observation that the purge demonstrated the "extreme paranoia and ruthlessness" of communist rebels.

Zagala could be forgiven for believing that his revelation about the Sison-ordered bloodbath in the communist movement was something dramatic and earth-shaking He was probably in his short pants in the 1980s when the purge took place.

Intengan’s sally is understandable too. He is the unreconstructed cold war warrior who believes everything is justified in the war against those godless communists. But the issue at hand is state-sanctioned death squads, not the paranoia and the ruthlessness of Sison which are fairly well-known.

So, OK, the communist leaders’ hands drip with the blood of the innocents in their hundreds, thousands even, in the purges that took place almost 20 years ago. If Zagala would bother checking the communist party documents gathered by the intelligence agencies, we would find that CPP has long admitted responsibility and has offered its apologies to the victims.

This is not to justify what is patently unjustifiable. Our point is that the AFP is dredging up rebel atrocities of long ago and packaging them as new. Clearly the intent is to distract attention from the extra-judicial killings taking place in the here and now.

What we find more disturbing is the attempt to apply the same legal and moral norms on the atrocities of the NPAs and on those of the AFP.

Look, AFP leaders would say. The NPAs are more ruthless than we are. Even if your accusation that death squads have killed 700 militants, the NPAs have killed many, many more. You accuse us of human rights violations, but why don’t you also denounce the NPAs’ human rights violations?

The short answer is that the NPAs are rebels and are, thus, criminals by definition. The AFP and the PNP enjoy a monopoly of state-sanctioned violence to protect the people, not to slaughter them. If that distinction is not recognized, Gloria Macapagal might as well extend the service of her paragon of the soldier, Maj. Gen. Jovito "The Butcher" Palparan, and name him chief of staff.

In time, the AFP might yet surpass the atrocities of the rebels and turn into a criminal organization like the NPA with which it wants to be judged by the same standards.
September4, 2006

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