Arroyo government is whitewashing Fr. Lucero’s killing

CPP Information Bureau

The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas today expressed concern that justice is being derailed in the Sept. 6 killing of human rights advocate Fr. Cecilio Lucero because of indications of whitewashing by the Arroyo government. "We accuse 8th Infantry Division chief Gen. Arthur Tabaquero of lying to the public in his Sept. 18 press conference where he blamed the New People's Army for the political killing of Fr. Lucero," said NDF-EV spokesperson Fr. Santiago Salas. "This lie was furthermore inflated and disseminated in a press release by the Philippine Information Agency last Sept. 21. This connivance by the military and a civilian agency points to the increasing possibility of whitewashing by the Arroyo government, in the same way that almost a thousand political killings since 2001 have remained unsolved, raising local and international outcries."

The NDF-EV spokesperson noted that Fr. Lucero was the fourth person to be extrajudically executed in Northern Samar alone this year. "To remember, progressive activist Dr. Bartolome Resuello was also killed last April 1 in Pambujan. Meanwhile, on Aug. 27 in Brgy. Sumuroy, Lope de Vega, Sherwin Malino and Melvin Basiloy were killed by 63rd IB troops led by a certain Lt. Cadil in retaliation for losing two soldiers killed and two more wounded in a clash with the NPA that day. Malino and Basiloy were mispresented as NPA fighters by 8th ID spokesman Col. Armando Rico, which is contradicted by two witnesses who were with the victims and who publicly attest that they were all ordinary peasants at work when the soldiers strafed them. The two witnesses are now in sanctuary with human rights advocates because the military is pursuing them to cover up the incident."

He added that the worsening human rights violations under Oplan Bantay Laya were indications that the Arroyo regime is repressing the people to keep itself in power. "The Arroyo regime is still actively plotting to extend its term. It is pushing the Teodoro-Puno tandem that is planning to push for charter change upon winning the election, thereby giving Arroyo a new lease on power as prime minister if she runs for congress in 2010. Moreover, the regime can also declare emergency rule should the election fail in one way or another, such as sabotaging the already untrustworthy automated election. That is why aside from principally avowing the defeat of the revolutionary movement by 2010, the Arroyo regime's Oplan Bantay Laya aims to put down all political opposition, because the people and the progressive forces anticipate the election as one way to end the regime."

Fr. Salas strongly condemned and called on the people to resist the political killings and the Arroyo government's attempts to conceal the gross and widespread human rights violations in Eastern Visayas under Oplan Bantay Laya. "The present actions by Gen. Tabaquero and the PIA to whitewash Fr. Lucero's killing and other such violations affirm that there is no justice under the Arroyo government. Because it is not something that will be given on a silver platter by the present government, justice for the political killings must thus be struggled for by various sectors – the Church, mass media, human rights advocates, and all freedom-loving people. The NDF-EV therefore calls on the people to unite and stand up against Oplan Bantay Laya and the Arroyo regime's intensifying political repression. The people must also pursue the open democratic struggle to end the Arroyo regime to ensure that justice, so bitterly denied while it is in power, can be attained.

"And like the struggle against the Marcos fascist dictatorship, the political killings and other rights violations cannot put down the people's perseverance not only in peaceful struggle, but in fact also convince many more of the revolutionary armed struggle so the people could defend themselves and advance their interests."