By Chocolate Moose Fernandez and Bb. Joyce Cabral
As the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) today sets court appearance of 43 doctors and health workers before the Court of Appeals for their writ of habeas corpus hearing, six rural based groups grilled took turns in grilling Defense Secretary and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzalez, accusing that the latter as the mastermind, if not, one of the key security officials who gave the order to abduct and torture the 43 doctors and health workers.
In a joint statement, Danilo Ramos, secretary general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), John Milton Lozande of Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, Cherry Clemente of Anakpawis party list, Lito Bais, acting president of United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU), Zen Soriano of Amihan peasant women federation and Fernando Hicap, chair of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said Gonzalez is the criminal mindset behind the political kidnapping, illegal arrest and detention, and day-to-day infliction of mental and physical torture on 43 medical personnel who were arrested during a raid in a resort in Morong, Rizal while conducting health seminar last week.
“The horrible tales as narrated by the victims themselves reflect the militarist mindset of the Arroyo government, the pro-Arroyo generals in the AFP and Sec. Gonzalez—the undisclosed author of counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and Oplan Bantay Laya 2,” the six militant leaders said in a statement.
“Bert Gonzalez Is Bert Gonzalez, and for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo he is untouchable and the best entities to explain why Gonzalez is untouchable is the president herself and her master in Washington D.C,” they said, short of giving a hint that the defense chief is a deployed operative of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the Philippines.
The groups said any congressional investigation or appropriate probe conducted by any government agency should have Secretary Gonzalez both as prime suspect and hostile witness. The fisherfolk leader said the case of Morong 43 can be objectively face with the inclusion of Gonzalez in the investigation and list of resource persons of the Senate, in case it paves way to the resolution authored by Senator Pia Cayetano calling for a Senate probe on the controversial case.
Likewise, the six groups said the Moro 43 case should merit the immediate and unconditional suspension if not removal of Sec. Gonzalez from his two posts—secretary of Department of National Defense (DND) and National Security Council (NSC) head, being Arroyo’s chief security adviser.
KMP, Pamalakaya, Anakpawis and the three other groups said prior to the abduction of 43 doctors and health workers, Sec. Gonzalez announced the government and the military are all set to resume the campaign of legal offensive against suspected communist leaders and aboveground groups and personalities which he believed have direct and indirect connections with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing—the New People’s Army (NPA). The directive to file criminal charges against leftwing activists and perceived leaders and members of CPP and NPA took place a week before the raid was conducted in Morong, Rizal.
Meanwhile, the six groups challenged all presidential, vice-presidential and senatorial candidates in the May 2010 elections to sign a national covenant that if they win in the elections, they will avoid a repeat of Morong 43 and that the will respect constitutionally guaranteed basic human rights and civil liberties.
The 6 militant groups noted that presidential candidates Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III and running mate Sen. Manuel Roxas of Liberal Party (LP), Manny Villar of Nacionalista Party, Richard Gordon and running mate, former MMDA chair Bayani Fernando, Lakas-Kampi vice-presidential bet Edu Manzano, independents JC de los Reyes and Nicanor Perlas and Bangon Pilipinas’ Bro. Eddie Villanueva have yet to issue official statements on the defective arrest of 43 medical persons.
The groups said the same holds true to majority of senatorial candidates, and only a handful led by Nacionalista Party (NP) guest candidates Reps. Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna) and Liza Maza (Gabriela) and Sen. Cayetano also of NP have sent official statements condemning the arrest and torture of 43 health workers. #