Thursday, November 12, 2009


Clinton asked to speak on Arroyo’s rights record

Posted in
MANILA, Philippines—Militant groups have challenged US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to "take a stand on the human rights record of the Arroyo administration."

"What does she have to say about the government-instigated extrajudicial killings of activists, the involuntary disappearances and torture even of an American citizen like Melisssa Roxas under the Arroyo administration? What does she have to say about the climate of impunity that continues to prevail?" asked the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT).

League of Filipino Students (LFS) head Terry Ridon asked Washington to "cease supporting Arroyo's criminal government marked by human rights violations."
Ma. Christina Guverra, president of the Students Christian Movement of the Philippines, said, "Clinton has claimed she wants to personally see the destruction brought by the typhoons."

"We can only wish they will see the greater destruction brought by the continuous plunder of our nation's resources," Guevarra added.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo said the Arroyo government was not shirking from its duty to protect its citizens’ human rights.
He said the government "remains fully committed and determined to address issues in relation to the protection and promotion of human rights."

"The Philippine government has been recognized by both the Obama administration and the US Congress for its efforts in addressing human rights," Romulo noted.Washington "recently requested for the deletion of the conditions on the $2 million in security assistance (to Manila) in the 2009 Appropriations Act in recognition of the significant progress made by the Philippines in addressing human rights concerns," he disclosed.

According to Anakbayan secretary-general Ken Ramos, Clinton’s real agenda is to save the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) from abrogation and ensure "US domination in Philippine affairs."Ramos said Clinton's visit "signals continuity, if not an increase in American intervention, considering mounting opposition to the VFA during the past two months."

Clinton "should realize they have no business here and any attempt to meddle in the coming polls, among others, no matter how covert, will be thwarted by people's movements," he added.

Clinton is scheduled to visit the country on November 12-13 before joining US President Barack Obama at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Singapore in the next two days.

Left-leaning groups like ACT and LFS have repeatedly expressed concern over the activities of visiting US troops in the country.
Similar concerns from other sectors and vague provisions in the VFA prompted the Senate in September to pass a resolution urging Arroyo to notify the US of the government's desire to renegotiate the accord, and if Washington refuses, to scrap it altogether.

Deputy presidential spokesmen Anthony Golez and Gary Olivar both declined to comment on whether the VFA would be on the agenda of a meeting between the President and her American counterpart on the sidelines of the Apec summit.
It will be Clinton's second visit to the country. The first was in 1996 during the Apec summit at the Subic Freeport in Zambales as US First Lady. She was then accompanying her husband, then President Bill Clinton.

This will be her second visit to Southeast Asia since being named Obama's secretary of state.

Arroyo and Clinton also met early in 2009 during the President's trip to Washington.

During their 30-minute talk at the State Department, they discussed issues that revolved around the Muslim insurgency in Mindanao and the effects of the global financial meltdown, among other issues.

According to Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, Arroyo and Clinton would discuss, among other things, the May 2010 elections during the latter's visit this week.
The Palace said it was ready to welcome Clinton, calling her visit an affirmation of the close diplomatic relations between Manila and Washington.

Last weekend, Clinton said her trip to the Philippines would be US way to show solidarity with the storm-battered country, just after her visits to Singapore and Berlin.

During her two-day trip here, Clinton "will hold consultations with senior Filipino officials, highlighting the US-Philippines treaty alliance," according to Ian Kelly, Clinton's spokesman.