Culture of Impunity in the Philippines

19 December 2006

Assassins and criminals are now even more emboldened to attack because of the pervading culture of impunity. 802 recorded political killings during the time of President Arroyo. Latest in the addition is the killing of 19-year old Sangguniang Kabataan chair from Cagayan Valley Nelson Asocena. If we may, the number will be 803, including Abra Cong. Bersamin assassinated last Saturday after attending a wedding.

This culture of impunity means that heinous crimes go unpunished, and this encourages perpetrators and would-be perpetrators to do the same. What is even more ironic is that this happens in our country where the government harks of the rule of law, peace and order.

If assassins can do it to a member of Congress, what more to an ordinary citizen exercising his/her political rights? The recorded killings of activists and journalists share the same aspects with that of Cong. Bersamin – motorcycle riders, up-close gunman, and politically motivated. Though there is a difference – the police is up on its feet to solve the congressman’s case, while the slayings of the peasants, workers, youth, and church leaders go unresolved and even whitewashed.

The only conclusion that we can draw is that the systematic extra-judicial killings, which the Arroyo administration has been silent on, have laid the fertile ground for the crimes that will affect even the encased politicos. Arroyo’s policy of inaction to political killings has bore a rotten fruit.

Now, even politicians are crying for help. Fellow congressmen said that the assassinations mark the start of the election period, with the final shovel pushed against charter change. That comment comes as natural as the sun would set every day. And it is a cause for worry to us.

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