Friday, March 16, 2007

Report On US Hearing On Extra-Judicial Killings

I received this update through my email.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

California Senator Boxer presided over the first hearing on the extrajudicial killings today, and judging from the surgical questions she asked, it was obvious the lady senator did her homework. She also mentioned extensive briefings made by the in-house legislative think-tank, the Congressional Research Survey, for the benefit of all members of the foreign relations committee.

For starters, she cautioned Eric G. John's against doublespeak for painting a "rosy picture" of the Philippine economy calling his attention to a recent survey by a Hongkong-based group putting the Philippines as "most corrupt" in Asia. John is the deputy assistant secretary of state for east asian and pacific affairs.

Boxer also asked John to raise the bar by admitting that despite the rhetorics coming from Manila officials, the Philippine government has not embarked on anything credible to mitigate the killings and that US assistance to the Philippines must be used not only to send a strong signal but to leverage the stop to the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

The senator also asked the state representatives to stay and listen to the testimonies of Amnesty International, the United Christian Churches in the Philippines, Karapatan and the United Sates Institute of Peace, all of whom later pointed at the Philippine security forces as the main culprit.

The lady senator did not mince words and asked for verifiable results from the Philippine government. She said she feels she is directly accountable to making sure reform flies because there are 1 million Filipinos in her constituency in the state of California. It is even made more urgent, she added, because the US military has presence in the Philippine assisting the Philippine military in its anti-terror campaigns, and could wrongly be misunderstood to be a party to the illegal killings.

Before taking leave, Boxer also ordered the report of UN Rapporteur Philip Alston be accepted in toto to the records of the Senate, calling it most comprehensive and most credible.

Virginia Senator Tim Webb also sought from the witness representing Karapatan clarification of the statistics they have documented from their 15 regional offices. After the lady witness appeared cocksure about her position that the victims they tallied were not collateral victims of encounters but individual unarmed civilians targeted for assassinations, Webb asked her to repeat the name of the person she mentioned in her prepared text to be most likely behind the extrajudicial killings. Thus the name of Norberto Gonzales, Mr. Arroyo's national security adviser was put on record.

Webb, being a former Secretary of the Navy recalled fond memories of his frequent visits to Asia and especially the Philippines. Before banging the gavel to end the hearing, he assured his audience that the US Senate knows very well what is happening in the Philippines because in addition to our long-shared history, there are 100,000 Americans residing in the country.

The hearing ended with a consensus on the floor that the person posing as president in the Philippines is not a lady but a butcher, who has done nothing beyond rhetorics in addressing a very serious international problem.

We started 2:40 pm and were off before 5pm.

What was inadvertently omitted in today's hearing, however, was that Siche Bustamante-Gandinao, 56, a member of the farmers group Misamis Oriental Farmers Association, was assassinated as recent as last Monday a few meters from a military
detachment. Gandinao (now victim #837) testified before Phillip Alston on the killing of her father-in-law, Dalmacio "Tatay Daki" Gandinao, during the UN rapporteur's visit to the Philippines.

Expect sanctions soon.


By Email from Washington DC