Due to a pounding headache caused by walking in the sweltering heat, I was unable to go to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and attend the protest/witness the hearing on the case of the Morong 43. But thanks to the wonders of technology (Kodao Productions live webcast) and the swift typing fingers of the people from Bulatlat.com and BAYAN secretary general Reyes, I was able to monitor developments.
It’s a wonder how those attending the hearing were able to hold themselves back from hurling garbage at the respondents from the AFP. From the onset, Col. Aurelio Balabad, commander of the 202nd Infantry Brigade, Lt. Col. Jaime Abawag, commander of the 16th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and Police Superintendent Marlon Balonglong exposed themselves to be patently inept: they couldn’t even keep their lies and excuses straight and they fell all over themselves trying to answer the straightforward questions of the CHR officials.
One of them said that they had a secret report that there were NPA members in the area where they arrested the Morong 43. It was so secret that none of them could confirm it actually existed. Then another denied having said that there were NPA members in the area. Where there NPAs or not? Who cares – they just barged in, found the Morong 43 preparing breakfast, eating breakfast, putting away their bath things, etc and said, “A-ha! these are the NPAs and they’re in disguise pretending to be ordinary civilians!”
When asked about the house they raided, they couldn’t remember if the place had a gate or not. They knew the address and said that they conducted an ocular inspection prior to the raid, but hey, may be they flew over the gate, right? Stranger things have happened. And it turns out that the house wasn’t owned by the mysterious Mario Condes? You thought the guy owned the place? Your informant told you and you took his word for it? Great.
Then another one said that the man who’s name was in the warrant the raiding team used to justify the raid and arrest the Morong 43 was ‘well-known’. So well known that not one of the members of the raiding team knew who he was, what he looked like, or where he was. The wanted man, ‘Mario Condes’ was nowhere to be found on the day of the raid, and after more than a month, he was still missing and no one knows where he is. Does Mario Condes even exist? Or is he imaginary? He’s real? So where is he? You don’t know? So who does know? You don’t know that either? so what do you know? Do you actually know anything or where you sent here by your mother to buy suka? No? Okay, let’s try again, where is Mario Condes….?
The responses of the AFP/PNP respondents were like dialogue from Alice in Wonderland: consider the teatime conversations over the dining table of the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Dormouse.
The AFP lawyers will probably drown themselves in alcohol after this hearing because they’ve been sent morons to support and assist.
The hearing went around and around because the AFP and PNP respondents got confused with their own testimonies. Ever so patient, the CHR kept asking the same questions, but the answers were never completely consistent or logical. There were denials as well, as the AFP/PNP respondents had lines like ‘I’m not the man to answer your question.”
Yep, you’re not the man, you’re the potato to answer the question. The kangkong stalk. The garbanzo bean. And you people enforce and protect the law?! A field day for idiocy, really. One could laugh if it weren’t so frustrating.
Then a prosecutor for the AFP, Romeo Senson, refused to take an oath or to participate because he had no lawyer and he had filed a case against the CHR in a Quezon City regional trial court. Sheesh, it’s the Commission on Human Rights, why are you afraid? It’s not a court of law. The guy was probably was afraid he’d burst into flames once he put his hand on the bible.
The hearing ended and alas, the Morong 43 are still denied their freedom. The hearing will resume after Holy Week, and it’s such a long way off.
AFP officials particularly those directly involved in the case of the Morong 43, their illegal arrest and detention would rather kill and eat their own children than admit their mistake. They have all been exposed as liars of the first degree and are already determined to delay all legal deliberations at all costs out of pure spite. It’s their commitment to uphold the dignity AFP as an institution, even if it means revealing themselves as idiots who don’t read, review, confirm and double-check warrants of arrests when doing joint operations with the PNP. Even if it means exposing themselves as law-breaking, rule-bending human rights violators who leave whatever passes for their brains at the door once they hear the word ‘NPA.’
There is much to be said about telling the truth: it’s easier than lying. You really have to be, I think, exceptionally intelligent and a good actor in the bargain to be able to pull off what the AFP/PNP respondents tried to do today in the CHR. They wanted to present themselves as credible and to defend the operation they did which resulted in the brutal and illegal arrest of 43 civilians, but they came off as ill prepared and inconsistent. Then again, all the idiocy might just well be deliberate: all part of the strategy to frustrate, delay and obfuscate. Since they cannot win this case by telling the truth (they should all be dismissed from the service, court marshalled and as public penance, sent to scrub toilets in the malls with no gloves on as the first punishment), they will do everything to keep the Morong 43 from being released and that means LYING. If they could stick answering only ‘yes’ ‘no’ and ‘no comment,’ they would.
I think there is no certainty at all that the Morong 43 will be released while Macapagal-Arroyo is still in power. Our hope mainly relies on the public pressure we can create — in continuing to demand the release of the Morong 43 and securing the support of the greatest number of people — human rights advocates, concerned citizens, influential members of various institutions that seek to uphold and defend human rights for the cause of their immediate freedom.
In the wake of the US State Department’s 2009 Country Report on Human Rights Practices, the Macapagal-Arroyo administration’s reputation as regime that violates human rights has been cemented for posterity. This is the last human rights report of the US government on the Philippines under Macapagal-Arroyo, and even the Philippines’ supposedly strongest ally has essentially castigated the incumbent regime. It’s not even enough that the Macapagal-Arroyo government and its police and military forces failed to uphold the human rights of the Filipino people, they committed massive human rights violations in the entire nine years that Macapagal-Arroyo has been in power.
“Arbitrary, unlawful, and extrajudicial killings by elements of the security services and political killings, including killings of journalists, by a variety of actors continued to be major problems. Concerns about impunity persisted. Members of the security services committed acts of physical and psychological abuse on suspects and detainees, and there were instances of torture. Prisoners awaiting trial and those already convicted were often held under primitive conditions. Disappearances occurred, and arbitrary or warrantless arrests and detentions were common. Trials were delayed, and procedures were prolonged. Corruption was endemic. Leftist and human rights activists often were subject to harassment by local security forces. Problems such as violence against women, abuse of children, child prostitution, trafficking in persons, child labor, and ineffective enforcement of worker rights were common,” the report said.