Los Angeles â€“ “The Filipino people are experiencing a continued intensification of political repression and state terror by the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime, despite the so-called lifting of Presidential Proclamation 1017 that declared the Philippines in a state of emergency,” Marie Hilao-Enriquez told an audience in a forum dubbed as “Philippines Under Fire” last week.
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, the Secretary General of KARAPATAN (National Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) visited Los Angeles before returning to the Philippines. She was part of a delegation that filed complaints and reports of gross human rights violations by the Arroyo government to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in New York earlier this month.
The forum was sponsored by BAYAN USA, Anakbayan Los Angeles (a Filipino youth organization), Habi Arts (a Filipino arts and culture organization), Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) and People’s Rights International Solidarity Movement (PRISM). It was also endorsed by California Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg.
Hilao-Enriquez added, “What is alarming is the prevalent practice of extra-judicial and summary executions of activists, human rights workers, peasant and union leaders, journalists, priests and outspoken anti-Arroyo party-list officials by suspected military operatives of the Arroyo government.”
KARAPATAN documented 4,300 cases of human rights violations in the Philippines since Arroyo took office in 2001. There was an almost daily frequency of political killings for most of 2005.
“Today, the Filipino people are intensifying their resolve to oust the repressive Arroyo regime. The immediate removal of Arroyo is the first step towards achieving justice for the victims of human rights violations and improving the human rights situation in the Philippines,” summed-up Hilao-Enriquez her presentation. She urged the audience to support the struggle of the Filipino people and in particular, call for the immediate release of 73 year-old Philippine Congress representative Crispin Beltran, who was illegally arrested and has been in detention since Arroyo declared the State of Emergency on February 25 despite a court order for his release.
While in Los Angeles, Hilao-Enriquez had an audience with California Assemblymembers Jackie Goldberg and Karen Bass, and visited State Senator Gil Cedillo’s office to discuss the current situation in the Philippines and the spate of political killings and rampant repression unleashed by the Arroyo regime.
Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg and Karen Bass expressed their support for KARAPATAN’s work and signed a petition to free Crispin Beltran that will be included in an ad in a national Filipino daily newspaper. Bass stated her surprise and concern to hear of the current repressive conditions of the Philippines, noting it similar to the times of dictator Ferdinand Marcos’s martial law. No stranger to Philippine issues, Bass supported previous efforts to end martial law, when she attended protests against the Marcos regime in front of the Philippine Consulate. In addition to the unbridled political killings, they also expressed concern about the US government support given to the Philippines. In August 2005, Jackie Goldberg was also a signatory to the International Solidarity Mission (ISM) to uncover the human rights violations in the Philippines.