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PHILIPPINES: Lack of accountability makes reconciliation impossible

The President's call for reconciliation is hollow and vacuous in the face of loose ends left hanging beyond the May 2007 elections and the adjournment of the 13th Congress.

It was precisely the Executive's interference and the House leadership's indecision and lack of political resolve that led to the dismal ending of the 13th Congress. The Marcos compensation bill, the UP Charter bill and the cheaper medicines bill -- all matters of a legitimate public interest -- were left unresolved. Their passage would have allowed for a lot of good to be done to a lot of people.

It was the House's lack of independence and initiative that led to the demise of these three important bills. AKBAYAN (Citizens' Action Party) pulled its weight behind these three bills, knowing their potency. But the House leadership, unable to assert its autonomy buckled down to pressure and ignored these bills.

Moreover, reconciliation cannot be possible in an atmosphere of fear and impunity. Outside of Congress, activists continue to die on a daily basis, the likes of Ka Crispin Beltran were unjustly imprisoned on trumped-up charges, and extra-judicial killings continue unresolved and unabated. Reconciliation cannot be at the expense of all these thousands of lives already lost, without this administration answering to allegations that its armed component is behind these killings.

Further, the administration must move to prove that it is not standing by while farmers die in landholdings owned by Presidential relatives. In Hacienda Velez-Malaga, owned by an in-law of Iggy Arroyo, two agrarian reform beneficiaries were recently killed. Justice must come first for these farmers before any talk of reconciliation and moving on.

The President mentioned that the dust has settled from the May polls and we must now move forward. It has not. Fraud and violence were just as insistent and pervasive in this year's elections as in previous polls. And without the necessary political reforms which this administration has also failed to implement, our elections will continue to be a mockery of our democratic aspirations. The Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) government must also account for this.

So what reconciliation is Malacañang asking for? It seems reconciliation and moving on have become the standard GMA doublespeak for forgiveness and selective amnesia. This administration wants the public to forgive and forget, which the House leadership supports. But the effects of their failure are manifest and concrete, and exacting accountability from both the Executive and the Legislative must continue because these are issues which violate the very rights of the people and deny them a better future.

Friday, 08 June 2007

Rep. Etta Rosales

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An inglorious peace is better than a dishonorable war.
-- Mark Twain
Source: "Glances at History" (suppressed)

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