Insights and opinions from our contributors on the current issues happening in the region

insight 52


more articles...

Sex Ed a wedge issue

What’s wrong with sex education in schools?

What do YOUTHink?

Condoms a dead man walking

Manganese, Copper… and other questions

Movie making from Waray’s olden history should begin now

Electric Vehicles will end Climate Change

How could the 'Maguindanao massacre' been allowed to happen?

OB listing by the military in Northern Samar exposed

Message of MGen. Arthur I. Tabaquero during the signing of Manifesto Against Violence




Freedom of religion under threat

July 24, 2010

POPE Benedict has decided to make religious freedom as the theme of next year’s World Day of Peace. I find this development very interesting and most relevant. The Pope is quite direct on this. Religious freedom fosters peace, he says. It does not undermine peace, much less, destroy it.

In the communiqué that announced this papal decision. It is mentioned that "in many parts of the world there exist various forms of restrictions or denials of religious freedom, from discrimination and marginalization based on religion, to acts of violence against religious minorities.”

What I know is that lately, there had been threats and open attacks on this most fundamental aspect of our freedom. Religious persecutions have surged in India, Indonesia, China and in many other countries. Priests and other Church workers have been killed, churches burned, etc.

In France, students at public schools cannot wear head scarves and large crucifixes. The European Court of Human Rights has prohibited crucifixes from walls of Italian schools.

In the US, there seems to be drift to reduce freedom of religion to mere freedom of worship. That means religion is relegated to the private life of individuals, denying it public expression. This can be observed in the recent speeches of President Barack Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton.

Religious freedom is the freedom of all freedoms. It’s freedom at its core. It’s the freedom that touches on the most basic and deepest need of man – to believe or not to believe in God or simply in ourselves in whatever frame of mind we can have.

From here spring all the other aspects of freedom – our understanding of human rights, freedom of expression, etc. This freedom of religion simply has to be respected, fostered and defended.

Obviously, the other part of this matter is that religious freedom is also the most delicate aspect of freedom. It can be the most mysterious, the most elusive in terms of understanding it and living it.

But in spite of this character, or rather because of it, we should be unrelenting in our pursuit to really know it and live it. We can never say enough of this effort, choosing to ignore the question for the false reason of avoiding so-called unnecessary trouble.

This excuse is the one offered by President Obama and most likely by Mrs. Clinton herself in talking about freedom of worship more than freedom of religion. Obviously it has its valid point. That’s always the nature of an excuse. It offers a valid point, but it can miss the more crucial part of an issue.

In this case of the freedom of religion, while everything has to be done to avoid public disorder and conflict in order to uphold religious freedom, it should never be reduced simply as a strictly private, personal affair of freedom of worship.

We have to find a way where the true nature of religious freedom can really be seen and appreciated, one that obviously will avoid public disorder and conflict. Thus, the Pope’s message for next year’s World Day of Peace can be most helpful.

In that message, the Pope highlights the basis for freedom of religion. And this is nothing other than the equal and inherent dignity of man. Here are some relevant words of that communique which I think are worth reflecting on.

¨This notion of religious freedom offers us a fundamental criterion for discerning the phenomenon of religion and its manifestations. It necessarily rejects the ´religiosity´ of fundamentalism, and the manipulation and the instrumentalization of the truth and of the truth of man.

¨Since such distortions are opposed to the dignity of man and to the search for truth, they cannot be considered as religious freedom.

¨Rather, an authentic notion of religious freedom offers a profound vision of this fundamental human right, one which broadens the horizons of ´humanity,´ and ´freedom´ of man, allowing for the establishment of deep relationship with oneself, with the other and with the world.¨

We may have to go through these words slowly. It will be an effort that will be truly worthwhile, since it would bring us to the true nature of religious freedom that is now badly understood, let alone, lived.

We have to be wary of the caricatures presented often in the media. They come as a result of some dangerous twists to accommodate perhaps some practical reasons. But such distortions will ultimately destroy the substance of religious freedom.

We may have to go slow but in the right track, rather than go fast but out of track.





Media focusing on Taft come its July 24-25 fiesta

July 23, 2010

Taft, Eastern Samar will be the launching pad for the first major activity of the newly organized media group in Region VIII after this group’s founding officers are sworn into office during the vespera of that town come July 24, 2010 evening by Immigration commissioner Marcelino “Nonoy” Chicano Libanan.  The following day, its coverage of the vesper and fiesta events would be released to the public, almost simultaneous to a press conference with that town’s elected officials and perhaps some provincial officials who may be visiting Taft on that day.

Plans for that affair and the choice of Taft were mulled during the second organizational meeting of this newest media group that originally adopted the name, TAMESDA, or Tacloban Media for Eastern Samar Development and Action.  On July 18 early evening, the group voted to rename itself as the RETA, acronym for Region Eight Tri-Media Association.

RETA’s founding officers, as of this writing, are the following: Justenry Mendoza Lagrimas - president, Rey Ledesma - vice-president, Rowel Amazona - secretary, Archie Globio - business manager, Byron Alcoba - chairman of the board of directors, Ben Veridiano and Brian Azura as board directors, and Chito Deloria Dela Torre - treasurer of the association and secretary of the board.

Originally, the group was formed to be exclusively committed to help in the development of Eastern Samar.  Since the members discovered that their group’s capabilities could also be tapped by other provinces and cities in Region VIII, they have decided to adopt an association’s name that at the same time bespeaks of its regional base.  However, they have agreed to initially focus on Eastern Samar province, its 21 towns and the city of Borongan, and their constituents.

It was in Taft that the Immigration commissioner completed his primary education (at Taft central elementary school) as a consistent honor student.  Although he was born in Quezon City (he will be 47 come September 20), Taft is his hometown.  Taft today, as it had been in many years past, is proud to have him as her son.  Well, he graduated gold medalist from the Seminario de Jesus Nazareno in Borongan, was a Leyte-Samar diocesan scholar and 100 per cent academic scholar of the Divine Word University until the university conferred him with the degree of Bachelor of Laws, passed the Bar examinations in 1988, was elected congressman for three consecutive terms for the lone district of Eastern Samar which he first served in his capacity as senior (although the youngest, elected at age 24) board member and then as its vice-governor.  He was cited as most outstanding congressman for four consecutive years (2001-2004).  In May 2007, he was appointed as Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration.   He has other accomplishments and achievements, that is why, not only Eastern Samar but the entire Waray region and the whole Philippines are proud of him.

As for Taft, a Pacific Ocean-facing town, has through the years been in the limelight as among the region’s tourist destinations.  Among its natural attractions is a beach coast that can be best enjoyed through the amenities made available by the now famous Dangkalan Pacific Beach Resort, which Catbalogan-based tourist guide and cave explorer Joni Abesamis Bonifacio describes as “a little paradise, a perfect place for camping with mini forest and park for backpackers, family, friends or lovers on a leisure trip”.  The beach resort itself, says Joni, is an oceanfront resort located on miles of golden fine sand facing the Pacific Ocean, and “facing the Makati Island, a world class surf destination”.

Taft can be visited through the internet.  Find to view pictures of the Loop-D-Loop Bridge and other sites and sights in the town, as well as for what website visitors say, like these ones:

“Ay salamat nga damo paka abre ko dama hin nga site, sugad hin mahidlaw na ha taft balitaw, bisan kun sugad aton bungto mahal ko pa iton. tnx, han akon ka parag silhig ha may singbahan na practise ako. Pagkadi ko canada asya la gihapon paragsilhig. An ginkaibahan la kay medyo high tech na he he he he. balitaw regards nala iyo tanan dida ha taft, maupay nla nga patron (advance) ha iyo nga tanan. mis u mis u. . . .´ - boyet cherreguine | | brgy.2,taft, eastern samar | grande prierie, alberta, Canada, Wednesday, June 23, 2010 at 04:38:54 AM PST

“Kamahidlaw na maupay na it pagule hen marisyo pag may okasyon urog na et patron.” - , Brgy.# Danao, Taft E. Samar | Q.C., Tuesday, November 17, 2009 at 01:57:44 AM.

“(A)s always, Taft is the most beautiful place I've ever been it is the paradise of eastern samar because or its wonders Taft will be the most beautiful of all beautiful and it is the most diverse place to be develop and invest because of its location as the gateway to western samar - jim jim | | brgy.2 taft, eastern samar | quezon city Saturday, August 15, 2009 at 06:39:13 AM.

HAPPY FIESTA to all Taft officials and constituents on July 24-25, 2010!





No tall order: those military probes

July 15, 2010

"...the New People’s Army... had always been able to prove that it could not be wiped out."

Warays should welcome calls for investigation to the reasons that forced the military during the period of from 2006 to 2009 to consistently proclaim, pursuant to a goal pronounced by Gloria Arroyo herself as then president, to the whole nation and the whole world that it can crush and put an end to insurgency in the Philippines.

Of course, when those proclamations were being made, one undying unit of the insurgent group (against which the military declared war when talks to end hostilities failed during the presidency of Fidel Ramos) always kept laughing, and rebuffing.

That group was the New People’s Army, the armed rebels’ unit of the Communist Party of the Philippines that the combined forces of the government continued to fail to defeat during the mighty Marcos regime, during the next 20 years, and during the almost 10 years of Arroyo, had always been able to prove that it could not be wiped out.

The investigation being asked today will also look into how much exactly did the military receive from out of the people’s money, and maybe even from foreign debts and foreign donors, to crush and end insurgency.  The calls, from various concerned groups and some legislators, want to see the logic which served as basis for those proclamations and tremendously huge funding.  It has seemed, after all, that that logic never existed and that the bases and reasons advanced by Arroyo and the military did not produce deaths to the rebels and the insurgency itself.  As the probe may begin soon, examiners should also dig into the truths of the military’s claim that only about 1,000 more active and armed rebels are on the loose, and then force the military to name and establish the locations of these ubiquitous rebels.  It will not be enough that taxpayers and the very people whom the military itself says it is sworn to protect and defend is citing numbers of its enemies and numbers of its overrun enemy lairs.  The enemies themselves should be named and fully described in a published and publicly posted document.  The enemy lairs should also handled similarly.

Why this public responsibility revelation was not being done by the military before the current Aquino Administration should be interestingly investigated as well.  Imagine, here is a country called the Philippines whose denizens are being claimed to be protected and defended but who do not even know who are those against whom their protection and defense is pressed for and must be a sworn-to duty.

There should likewise be an accounting demanded, why the military inveterately reported that the discovery of enemy camps or the presence of armed rebels had to be attributed to the people themselves, usually in the rural and almost uninhabited sections in often mountainous areas.  The government needs to get that information out to the public so that the people would know that the military actually failed heavily in its intelligence and counter-intelligence, or espionage, activities.  There actually are other things that the military should be doing in order to pinpoint exact locations of enemies and their hideouts or camps, but which it does not do.  That embarrassing failure is always embarrassingly cured by the participation of ordinary, often unschooled, citizens in barrios and sitios who have no military training and are not receiving any salary as does every soldier.  In technical military sense, it is not acceptable to claim that information or tips volunteered by private citizens is a product of effective military intelligence strategy.  That claim is self-defeating and an excusable denial of the military’s foible – the military’s quirk that is almost tantamount to a dereliction of duty.

The investigations – I hope there will be a series of intensive, no-holds barred probes – may build scrutinizing arteries to where intelligence funds have been going for during the past many years until an Oakwood mutiny made a senator and an Ampatuan massacre rocked the whole world.

President Noynoy Aquino is in the right track.  He has vowed to provide the military – and the police – with more funds, more men, and more better arms.  In the case of the military, he has seen that as an urgent need in order to enable the government’s armed forces to win in the government’s --- not the military’s --- war against insurgency and truly end insurgency and its shadows.  PNoy doesn’t like the military lying to the Filipino people.  He wants it to tell the people that its soldiers couldn’t yet win and that they can’t yet end the war, and that it was not honest in its claims of minuscule victories in the past when in fact it was only chipping off a tip of an iceberg, in a manner of talking.

Thus, Lieutenant General Ricardo David is the right officer and gentleman to lead the entire military towards this objective of President Aquino.  He may have been a silent witness of the excesses of military officers in the past but certainly he is committed to enforce the command of his commander-in-chief to make the military and all its personnel at par with the highest expectations of the New Government and the wishes of the Filipino people.  The conduct of investigations, with his fullest support and cooperation, in addition to his participation, apart from what he may be initiating by himself as the most powerful armed officer in the Philippines, will vigorously, albeit strenuously, guide his commitment which, by its quintessence, is a valorously noble step towards professionalizing the military service.

While in the meantime there will be no demotions in rank, for now, as pronounced by the staff of AFP chief of staff Lt. Gen. David, it will also be of help the investigative work if no promotions are at the same time instituted unless they are a necessary corrective measure, such as the need to change division and brigade commanders, or in due recognition of exemplary leadership and accomplishments that had significantly contributed to community development, in addition to true peace and galvanization from threats to such development.  When COS David shall have accomplished that, naturally, Pres. Aquino would be happier.  The President of the Republic of the Philippines will be comfortable with the thought that finally this country and its people has a sensitive, sensible, responsive, fair, parsimonious, and honest military.





Nicart – the pro-farmer practical governor

July 12, 2010

Until I glued my ears to almost hushed small group conversations at the Capitol in Borongan City, I didn’t know who the people were referring to by the ascriptions “Bungot” and “Aklon” which I had been hearing since past 9 a.m. of June 30 up to the first press conference of the new provincial administration in Eastern Samar neared its start at past 2 p.m..

At first, I thought every mention of Bungot and Aklon referred to someone in a legend which only the Estehanons know, rather only during the past decade that I had missed the sweet and sometimes intoxicating company of my closest friends in that province that lies opposite of America while kissing the vast and wavy Pacific Ocean.  Thus, I remembered my literary writer, Morris Anacta Baquilod, a Boronganon who was our editor-in-chief during our college days at Southwestern University in Cebu City and who resigned ahead of me from the Department of Public Information to help in the crusade for genuine democracy, and other good writers in that province with whom I enjoyed journalism work during the martial law days and until the post-People Power Revolution months when we understood time had come to start writing more about the Waray-Waray region and especially on the need for the national government to give now its attention to the seemingly abandoned island of Samar.  Byron Bugtas, who would later on become station manager of Radyo Ng Bayan DYES, although often serious in his job, kept our groups zestful with his dramatized tales and self-composed songs which we all loved to listen to.

Yes, I did imagine that because the Waray term “bungot” means beard or moustache, it referred to a Judas or Jesus who were depicted as bearded.  As for “Aklon”, I did recall that Waray versions of Robinhood were sometimes called “Aklon”.

Then, after I had talked for a while with my first cousin Cornelio Adel, former vice-mayor of Taft, Eastern Samar’s town that is popular for its “Loop the loop” road (forming almost the figure “8”), I started laughing.  Like having succeeded getting out of a maze, I said “eureka!” – Greek for “I’ve found it!”, corrupted jocosely by Filipino nerds, as it had been with the jejemon jejune talk, into “yari ka!”  I got my jejunal clarification off my jejunum.

In his inaugural address, governor Conrado Nicart Jr. mentioned the term “bungot” twice, and to my mind it was a metaphor for an old, bearded man who always insisted on what is right.  “Kontra ni Bungot it malimbong, malupot, makawat ug hakog” and “Para kan Bungot, immoral an pagsingabot hin gahum, immoral an pagriko tikang han pag-malun-makon han pondo, nga para unta han mas mamadamo nga tawo.”  These both engendered a wild applause from the nearly 1,000 people who witnessed his oath-taking and installation as their new governor.

He was referring to himself, I realized hours later.

The appellation must have been attributed to his being unshaven up to his chin.  His grey beard, though, matched with his partly greyish hair that almost looked shaggy but yet made him look even younger than the senior citizen in the media group of more than 20 (6 from Tacloban City) that covered the inaugural ceremony.

In his brief message that came earlier than did “Bungot’s”, I thought vice-governor Christopher “Sheen” Gonzales blundered twice when instead of saying “governor Nicart”, he mentioned “governor Aklon”!  I was surprised why the audience didn’t boo him.  I said to myself, it was impossible for everyone not to have noticed the wrong mention of the name of the new governor.  This can’t happen, I continued, shaking my head.  The old woman seated before me at the back row of the tent-covered Capitol ground kept staring at me each time I disbelievingly interjected “oww!”  This young and handsome second highest official of the province was expressing his preference for his own governor, I thought.  But no!  My notebook listed Sheen’s gubernatorial candidate was Andres A. Yu, his tandem from the Lakas-Kampi-CMD, whom Nicart walloped miserably with a downgrading win of 6,000 extra votes.  If Andres were the “governor Aklon” enunciated by Sheen, why could Sheen afford to commit that mistake? I asked myself.  He could not have referred to ex-governor Ben Evardone who was simply “Ben”.  So, who was this “governor Aklon”?

At the other end of the oval coco-lumber conference table of the sangguniang panlungsod, Sheen once again enunciated “governor Aklon”.  I smiled.  I already knew he was addressing Nicart and the governor’s other alias is “Aklon”.

And yes, the beard and the Robinhood literary attribution literally distinguished Gov. Nicart, who had served as barangay kapitan, Liga president, and mayor for 16 years and vice-mayor for one term in the town of San Policarpo in Eastern Samar.  I would soon start learning how the heart of this former constabulary-police officer ached and bled for the poor and ignored Samarnons.  In his 5-agenda message, he made as number one priority the improvement of agricultural productivity to at least alleviate poverty by adding some more irrigated rice land hectarage to the province’s a little over 2,000 hectares of existing irrigated lands in order to increase the volume of rice harvests and stop the practice of buying rice at high prices from outside Eastern Samar.  His belief:  “...kadak-an nga problema han kapobrehan in masosolbar kun supesyente and produkto nga pagkaon tikang ha uma.”   He said that even as he is enlisting the full support on this of the Capitol and other provincial government employees, he is also appealing to the sangguniang panlalawigan to help him realize this priority.  This guy is going to the basics to reach his very high goal: frequently talk and walk with the actual farmers right at their farms, “dire ha usa nga aircon nga opisina, nga kinurtinahan”.

His second top priority – infrastructure projects, which he said the people will appreciate after he shall have completed his 3-year term as governor.  “Pipili-on ta an kontraktor nga maaram mag-templa han kadamo han baras ug semento.  Aton panginanohon nga, kun an proyekto kalsada, aton igkakalsada, dire sungkaan ha kalsada, kun irigasyon an proyekto, tumanon nga irigasyon, dire mansion, ngan kun medisina an papaliton, asya ta paliton, dire baybayon.

His third priority – much improved provincial hospital services, which the patient would appreciate by the end of his term as governor.  The patient, he said, “dire na mapalit han talagudti nga higamit, gapas, dagum, plaster ngan bisan la medicol.  He emphasized that he was stringently condemning the insensitivity to poverty or absence of sympathy for the poor.

He said he would also give equal treatment to all the 22 towns and 1 city that make up Eastern Samar.  “Laumi niyo nga papreho la it ak paghatag hin grasya, kun mayda man, waray ko mamayporayon, bisan kun wara ak pagdaog dit ha iyo, kay it politika niyan la it ngin panahon hit karampanya, katapos hit, mamaupay ko la kun magsasarangkay la kita.”

Gov. Nicart’s fifth priority is to launch the start of renewal thru a new brand of leadership.  Yet he has appealed that early for everyone’s cooperation, citing as an analogy the lesson from the flight of geese in “V” formation.  “Kun sugad la daw kita nga mga tawo, mas maintindihan ta, nga kun nagkakaurusa la kunjta hin usa nga direksyon ug tinguha, diin ginbububligan an problem ug mabug-at nga trabaho, mas madagmit hingadtoan an kaupayan.

In concluding his message, the new governor pledged “a government that will be peaceful and drug-free, maybe not in the next three years, maybe in the next three months.”  He also promised to crack down officials who abuse the environment and take advantage and exploit the poor, the weak and the hungry, even in my own little way”.

His had been a down-to-earth but loaded message, one that even the unschooled could easily understand and recall.

He also sounded that way when he answered questions during the press conference, especially when he declared his response to what every well-meaning Estehanon has been complaining about for years, which is to remove all signages that proclaim that a project is named credited to a particular official, because in his own time, he would not also allow his name to be shown for a similar false claim.  For him, every project funded from out of the people’s money is a project of the people, a duty performed by the public servant who is bound to respond to the people’s needs.

I liked all that I heard from you.  Damo nga salamat, governor Nicart!  I wish you good luck.  God be with you in your crusade.  I am convinced that you will do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people.  You can as long as you ever can.





Beware of newspeak

July 3, 2010

ACCORDING to my dictionary, newspeak is a language invented by George Orwell in his book, 1984, that portrays a horrible world scenario of people brainwashed and controlled. Newspeak is “a deliberately ambiguous and contradictory language used to mislead and manipulate the people.”

We have to be wary of its existence, because it is actually present in today’s world. It in fact is proliferating, thanks to an ongoing ideological warfare that is employing subtle tricks and traps, victimizing simple people.

It’s a language that deftly mixes truths and untruths, and cleverly exploits a window of acceptable concepts and beliefs to introduce false and harmful ideas. It’s like a Trojan horse, a most cunning exercise in hypocrisy and treachery.

It must come from the devil, because our Christian faith considers him as the “father of lies” (Jn 8,44), and newspeak in its core is actually a lie, irrespective of the many beautiful and true things it also emits.

Its pedigree betrays a complicated mix of isms—atheism, agnosticism, deism, relativism, socialism, etc. Common among them is the element of making man, us, not God, as the ultimate source of truth, the final arbiter of good and evil.

In the first place, the agents of newspeak laugh at any mention of a possibility of God’s existence or of his providence in our affairs. They just can’t believe that. They are either awkward or hostile toward that truth. They only believe in themselves and their brilliant ideas.

It can originate and thrive in an environment described in St. Paul’s second letter to Timothy:

“There will come a time when they will not endure the sound doctrine, but having itching ears, will heap up to themselves teachers according to their own lusts, and they will turn away their hearing from the truth and turn aside rather to fables.” (4,3-4)

In this current debate about reproductive health and sex ed in public schools, for example, I cannot help but think of this tricky phenomenon of newspeak.

We are regaled with many good and true things about them, but we have to look closely at the fine print, because it’s there where the lies and dangers are hidden. Its practitioners have mastered the darker side of the art of propaganda.

Whenever I read their statements, I find myself also agreeing with many of what they say, and even praise them for some of their views. It’s just that they do not say everything, and where they think they would go against truth and faith, they become evasive and sly.

I have no quarrel with the need for everyone to attain reproductive health and have sex ed. It’s in what is meant by these ideals, and how they are to be implemented where I seriously beg to disagree.

In this often unnoticed level, one can readily see the remaking of the concepts of morality, of faith and religion, of human progress and development, etc. It’s a hideous activity.

Sad to say, newspeak is now widely used by politicians and pundits, social pacesetters and cultural gurus, and even religious leaders who are actually referred to as false teachers in the gospel. We need to be most discerning, helping one another develop a keen sense of judgment.

Recently, I received an email of a commentary regarding a speech of US State Secretary Hillary Clinton. It talked about how Mrs. Clinton cleverly downgraded religious freedom into freedom of worship in her effort to further the cause of same-sex unions.

In short, Mrs. Clinton waxed lyrical about religious freedom understood as freedom as worship where one’s faith is kept private and personal only, with practically no public and social dimension.

This is a clear distortion of freedom, castrating the very core of freedom which is religious freedom. It’s an understanding of freedom that is purely political and ideological, man-made and artificial, lacking its original foundation who is God.

It’s an understanding of freedom that simply floats according to the fashion of the times. It speaks the language of what is politically correct at the moment with no reference to a universal, absolute truth. It simply is tied to changing and relativistic criteria.

This understanding of freedom confuses objectivity with subjectivity, and divorces right to privacy from the common good and universal truth.

With that character, freedom is prone to be exploited by the strong and the clever, the lucky and the privileged, the healthy and the rich. Lady Justice here does not wear a blindfold. She openly plays favorites.

We need to be wary of the evils of newspeak.





Asian governments need to change policing based on the use of torture

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission on the occasion of the UN International Day in Support of Torture Victims - June 26, 2010

As the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is commemorated on the 26th June the Asian governments need to face up to their failure to honour their obligations to eliminate the use of torture in their countries. The use of torture is endemic in Asia and the reason for this is that the policing systems still use torture as the main method of investigation into crime. The extent to which torture is used is scandalously high and the time to stop it is clearly now.

Policing in many Asian countries is still very cruel, primitive and also inefficient and corrupt. The extent of the governments' failure is reflected in the widespread use of torture and their unwillingness to deal with this problem. The nature of the policing systems is very much linked to the kind of political systems that still prevail in Asia. These political systems have made possible the abuse of power and corruption and the local policing systems are used as instruments to facilitate such abuses and corruption.

The use of torture by the police contributes to prevent the development of democratically based political parties. Internal democracy within the parties is prevented by powerful politicians who aspire to power more for personal gain rather than in the service of any national objectives. Internal forces of repression prevent a healthy competitive spirit through which proper political leadership can emerge within these parties. The ruling parties also use the police as an instrument to suppress other political parties from emerging. In this manner the internal democratic process is seriously disturbed by the use of coercion in favour of a few powerful persons. As a result national institutions, vital to ensuring accountability and transparency, are prevented from being developed.

Bad policing based on the constant use of torture and coercion contributes to violence within societies. The chief beneficiaries of bad policing systems are those engaged in organised crime. In many countries direct links are visible between the police and the organised gangs. The emergence of the underground forces disturbs the peace within society and complaints of insecurity are constantly heard from most of the countries.

The fear of the police has so deepened in society that women openly complain that they will not dare to go to a police station even if they have to face some problems which requires the intervention of the police. The fear of rape and sexual harassment by the police has developed to such an extent that women in Asian societies openly express the view that the police are a socially unfriendly agency. During the months of May and June of this year the Asian Human Rights Commission interviewed women from several Asian countries and they unanimously expressed the view that policing in their countries has emerged as an agency which has a negative influence on society.

Bad policing with their power to use coercion and the manipulation of their powers of arrest and detention has reached such levels that many societies cannot make any progress towards democracy or rule of law without first dealing with serious police reforms. Radical police reforms remain the primary requirement of social stability and the prevention of violence.

Unfortunately the use of propaganda relating to the elimination of terrorism has also been used in order to further enhance the possibilities of the misuse of police powers. Under the pretext of anti terrorism even the limited achievement relating to the development of rule of law systems have been undermined. Through extensive powers acquired by anti terrorism laws the powers of arrest and detention are being misused in high proportion. Such abuse is accompanied by extrajudicial killings, by either death in custody or through forced disappearances. Serious crimes are being committed in the name of anti terrorism and as a result impunity has become widespread. The citizen is powerless under these circumstances.

Bad policing and abuse of power through anti terrorism laws has become a major threat to the independence of the judiciary. The judiciary in many countries is powerless when investigations are subverted and when the law enforcement agencies themselves engaged in serious crimes. Recent studies show the manner in which even legal remedies like habeas corpus actions have become ineffective in the face of massive violations by law enforcement agencies.

A theory is now gaining ground that the use of overwhelming power is the only solution to terrorism. Sri Lanka's experience in the suppression of the LTTE is now being used as a kind of model or example on how to deal with terrorism. The safeguards developed to protect individual rights are even being ridiculed as impractical or counterproductive. Ideological support for the use of naked power and the justification for impunity is being promoted.

All these tendencies are only contributing to create insecurities in society and for unscrupulous politicians to abuse power for their own purposes.

The Asian Human Rights Commission calls on the societies of all Asian countries to take serious note of this dangerous situation. In recent years civil society organisations themselves have compromised with these negative developments and as a result contributed to this situation. Today civil society is challenged by these threatening developments and it is time that civil society faced up to this challenge.

The elimination of torture-based policing and all kinds of justifications for the unscrupulous use of power need to be stopped. This is the issue that needs to be reflected upon by civil society as well as the governments on the occasion of the International Day in Support of Torture Victims. Unless the negative developments mentioned above are seriously dealt with the number of torture victims will only increase. The Asia Human Rights Commission also calls upon the United Nations and the international community to deal with this situation without ambiguity and delay.

Kindly see the statements by women of several Asian countries who have called for the end of bad policing and the use of torture. These may be seen at:



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