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Former RP Defense Chief ; "Don’t tell us how to handle an insurgency’

by Pesante-USA Friday, Feb. 16, 2007 at 5:55 PM
magsasakapil@hotmail.com 213-241-0906 337 Glendale Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90026

The Philippine lawmaker who was defense minister during martial law said Thursday that he had told a UN human rights investigator to keep out of Manila’s internal affairs. Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile had harsh words for UN special rapporteur Philip Alston, who is probing the wave of hundreds of political murders that have taken place since President Arroyo took office in 2001.

Former RP Defense Chief ; "Don’t tell us how to handle an insurgency’



Manila--The Philippine lawmaker who was defense minister during martial law said Thursday that he had told a UN human rights investigator to keep out of Manila’s internal affairs.

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile had harsh words for UN special rapporteur Philip Alston, who is probing the wave of hundreds of political murders that have taken place since President Arroyo took office in 2001.

Alston and his team have been meeting with Philippine officials and others from across the spectrum during a 10-day mission to look into the assassinations.

“I told them, ‘Look, have you ever handled an insurgency problem in your country?’ They said No. ‘And I said: Well, don’t lecture to us about how to handle an insurgency problem,’” Enrile told reporters.

‘Next Colombia’

Meanwhile, another international mission group condemned the extrajudicial killings in the country, saying these indicate rampant disregard for life and liberty.

The Public Services International (PSI), a global union federation of public service unions with 20 million members from over 150 countries, said the government’s failure to mete out justice for the political killings, has earned the country the tag as “the next Colombia.”

The phrase is a reference to the bloody trail left by para-military forces and powerful drug cartels in the South American country.

PSI General Secretary Hans Engelbert said that there is no “democracy” in the Philippines as long as citizens remain in the grip of fear.

Dictator’s pal

Enrile was the defense minister of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was toppled from power by a popular uprising in 1986. Enrile turned against Marcos in the final days before the strongman fled to exile in the United States.

Marcos long benefited from US support during the Cold War, in part because of his hard-line against the communist insurgents who launched an uprising against the Manila government nearly four decades ago.

“They do not understand our problem because there is no insurgency in their countries,” Enrile said of the UN team. “If this country sinks, they’re safe in their countries. The Filipinos will be the ones to suffer.”

According to local rights monitors, around 830 people have been murdered since current President Arroyo came to power six years ago. She has been under mounting international pressure to stop the bloodshed.

Duplication

During his visit, Alston has interviewed the relatives of victims, police and military officials. The UN information office here said he would meet the press to report on his work next week before leaving the country.

Most of the victims have been leftists, and some were accused by the military of having links to the communist guerrillas.

Enrile, who now heads the Senate’s human-rights committee, said Alston wanted to know why the Filipino legislature was not investigating the allegations of summary killings and other alleged human-rights abuses.

He said he told the UN team that the Senate did not want to duplicate the work of several task forces on the issue, which have been established by Mrs. Arroyo.

“If there’s a need for us to enact corrective legislation, we’ll do it,” Enrile said.

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