By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Trinity Biglang Awa and Bombshell Moran
MANILA, Philippines-Eight rural based groups today urged President Benigno Simeon ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III to immediately place former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo under house arrest as plunder and other criminal and civil cases against his predecessor and her other officials are expected to flood the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Office of the Ombudsman beginning tomorrow July 1.
In a statement, organizers of the 100 Days of Peasant Camp- Out for Land and Justice composed of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), AMIHAN peasant women federation, Kalipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK), the Hacienda Luisita based United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) and the Alyansa ng Mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) said there is an immediate need to place ex-President Arroyo under house arrest to prevent the former President from launching any daring escape from justice anytime beginning July 1.
KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said aside from placing Arroyo under house arrest, her passport and other travel documents should also be cancelled to make sure the former President who is facing pending cases of plunder and other criminal offenses and would face again similar cases on various counts will be present once the investigation of the Truth Commission started and the DoJ and the Office of the Ombudsman begins their respective parallel probe on complaints filed before the offices.
“The highest level of vigilance and engagement in the name of truth, justice and accountability is highly required and at the same time a political necessity because we don’t want our people’s collective interest and demand for the prosecution and immediate imprisonment of Arroyo to be sacrificed at the altar of political accommodation. We have also this strong gut feeling that the US government will intervene to stop the Aquino administration from pursuing the people’s cases against GMA,” Ramos stressed.
Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap shared the sentiment of the KMP official warning President Aquino of an across-the-nation outrage if his administration fails to prosecute and jail Arroyo within his first 100 days in office.
“Arroyo’s prosecution and eventual imprisonment can be done and finished with flying colors in the first 100 days in office of President Aquino. This job is as easy as ABC or basic arithmetic, all Mr.Aquino need is strong political will. In fact, Aquino does not need 100 days, he can do the job in two weeks time or before his first State of the Nation Address on July 26,” Hicap said.
On June 2004, about two weeks after the 2004 presidential elections, KMP and Pamalakaya together with their regional and provincial chapters filed a plunder complaint against President Arroyo and officials of the Department of Agriculture in connection with the P 728-million fertilizer fund scam.
Last January 6, Pamalakaya filed a plunder case before the Office of the Ombudsman against President Arroyo, former agriculture secretary Arthur Yap and other agriculture officials in connection with the P 455 million ice making machines, which the group claimed were overpriced by 100 percent.
In 2006, Pamalakaya also filed plunder and other criminal and civil charges against President Arroyo and other cabinet members in connection with the offshore mining activities in Central Visayas, the fish kill caused by Lafayette mining in Rapu-Rapu, Albay and the indiscriminate issuance of environmental compliance certificates in 2005 to more than 4,000 companies.
Meanwhile, Kasama-TK secretary general Guillermo Bautista and AMGL secretary general Joseph Canlas said aside from immediate prosecution of President Arroyo, the 100 days camp-out of farmers and fisherfolk from Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon would demand immediate positive responses on agrarian disputes involving thousands of hectares in the regions.
The peasant leaders said they would submit a peasant agenda to President Aquino that demand concrete favorable actions from the newly installed government like land cases in Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas involving 8,650 hectares of prime agricultural lands now being developed for real estate projects of Manila South Coast Development Corporation, the 7,100 hectares of former sugar lands in Hacienda Yulo in Barangay Canlubang in Cabuyao, Laguna and the 6,453 hectare Hacienda Luisita sugar estate owned by the family of President Aquino.
They said Aquino should work for the immediate, unconditional and free distribution of these lands to farmer beneficiaries.
Kasama-TK and AMGL leaders will also press for the investigation of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of rural activists from 2001 to 2009 and will also urge the Aquino administration to drop all politically motivated fabricated charges filed against leaders of peasant and fisherfolk groups in Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon and other regions and the unconditional and urgent release of peasant political prisoners all over the country. #