Monday, April 03, 2006
UNION ORGANIZER "DISAPPEARED" IN THE PHILIPPINES
CounterPunch reports, "Since President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo joined the US global "War on Terrorism", the Philippines has become the site of an on-going undeclared war against peasant and union activists, progressive political dissidents and lawmakers, human rights lawyers and activists, women leaders and a wide range of print and broadcast journalists. Because of the links between the Army, the regime and the death squads, political assassinations take place in an atmosphere of absolute impunity. The vast majority of the attacks occur in the countryside and provincial towns. The reign of terror in the Philippines is of similar scope and depth as in Colombia. Unlike Colombia, the rampaging state terrorism has not drawn sufficient attention, le3t alone outcry, from international public opinion.
Perseus Geagoni was last seen Dec. 5 at around 7:30 p.m. when he borrowed a motorcycle from his sister who lives next door. He said he needed to go to the office of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in Bacolod City.
Geagoni’s wife Nieva and his sister Babeth said a few days before Geagoni’s disappearance, they noticed two unidentified persons on a motorcycle following him, asking neighbors about his activities and where he goes.
Fred Cana, national council member of the human rights group Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights), said 10 organizers were already killed this year, nine from NFSW and one from the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines). He believes the evidence points at the military and their allies.
The following article is from Bulatlat, a Philippines weekly.
Missing Negros Labor Leader in Order of Battle
The family of Perseus Geagoni, missing organizer of the Negros Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), now strongly believes that the Army was responsible for his disappearance. His name is in the military’s list of “rebels” or “enemies of the state,” it has recently been found.
BY KARL G. OMBION AND RYAN B. LACHICA
BACOLOD CITY -- The family of Perseus Geagoni, missing organizer of the Negros Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), now strongly believes that the Army was responsible for his disappearance.
Geagoni has been missing since Dec. 5 last year. He was last seen leaving his home at Talisay City to go to the NFSW office at Bacolod City but never came back since then. The NFSW since then had been accusing the Army’s 303rd Infantry Battalion of being responsible for his disappearance.
Just recently, the office of Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Rafael Mariano was furnished a copy of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)’s 2005 order of battle. The document was said to have been acquired from military personnel.
Geagoni’s name was on the roster of those considered “rebels” or “enemies of the state.”
Babeth, Geagoni’s sister, said this only strengthens their suspicion that the Army was behind the disappearance of Perseus. “The list is a full-size basis that it is the Army that took away Perseus,” she said.
Nieva, Geagoni’s wife, appealed to his suspected captors to just surface her husband even if he is dead. “The children are still hoping he’d come back home,” she said.
Meanwhile, several militant groups in Bacolod City denounce what they described as a “systematic campaign” of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which they say is backed by the administration.
Fred Caña, secretary-general of Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights)-Negros, said that the order of battle is a “death sentence” to all those included in it. “The military, through the list, would be given license to summarily execute anyone that was written in it,” he said.
He further said that the order of battle is unconstitutional. “Granting that the list contains the names of the alleged members of the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army), they too have the right to due process and defend themselves,” he said. “This is not due process.” said Caña. He further added that this only proves that there is military rule at present.
Felipe Gelle, secretary-general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance)-Negros, meanwhile described the list as fabricated. “Even names of legitimate media (practitioners) and common farmers were included in the list,” he said.
Among those who were in the order of battle were Richard Sarrosa, chairman of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Philippine Peasant Movement)-Negros, and Julius Mariveles, a local journalist.
Sarrosa said the army included his name probably because of his active participation in opposing harassment related to land issues. “This is their way to stop and silence us, those who are fighting against repression,” he said.
He further added that his life now would be in danger. “Maathag kag klaro nga ang kabuhi ko ara na sa ila mga kamot” (It’s evident and clear that my life now is in the Army’s hands), he said.