Sometime, somewhere in a parallel world:
Recalling the assassination of his own father, President Benigno Aquino III today spoke out and acted strongly on the issue of extrajudicial killings that continue to victimize journalists, activists and lawyers across the country.
In a surprise televised address to the nation, days ahead of the birthday of former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., the Chief Executive ordered the Philippine National Police to reopen all “sleeping” cases of extrajudicial killings of journalists, activists, clergy and lawyers, and challenged the Department of Justice to prosecute as many perpetrators and masterminds the police could identify and arrest.
The elder Aquino was shot dead on Aug. 21, 1983 upon his arrival at Manila International Airport. The killing sparked big demonstrations across the country, leading to the first People Power uprising of 1986 which toppled the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.
“Identify and apprehend the shooters and the masterminds, and file complaints against them. The police should not leave no stone unturned and encourage citizens to come forward by providing them the full protection. My administration is committed to bring before the bar of justice these beasts who prey on our people,” Aquino said.
Addressing families of victims of the infamous Maguindanao Massacre, Aquino said that “there will be no compromise with all the accused, except when they come forward and admit to their crimes which will speed up the prosecution of this case. Meanwhile, this administration vows to protect all present and future witnesses who will help the courts ferret out the truth.”
Aquino also surprised the nation by declaring “from this day forward, counterinsurgency operations shall not touch any civilian or non-combatant. All officers and soldiers who wear the uniform of the Republic of the Philippines shall be expected to respect and protect civilians and non-combatants. Extrajudicial killings of civilians, non-combatants and hors de combat is not a policy and will not be tolerated by this administration.”
Aquino said the PNP has until Dec. 31, 2011 to submit a status report on all cases cited by organizations of journalists, activists, clergy and lawyers, “regardless of and blind to their political leanings”.
On the Hacienda Luisita massacre, Aquino said that he will ask newly-appointed Archbishop of Manila Luis Antonio Tagle to lead a Truth Commission to investigate the incident.
Aquino said he will also request a meeting with the chief justice of the Supreme Court, the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives “to dramatize the administration’s sense of urgency, and to mobilize the entire machinery of government and full might of the Constitution against those who are behind these extrajudicial executions.”
“These actions are the least that I could do to the families who lost their loved ones, and my humble tribute to those who, like my father, were martyred so we may enjoy the fruits of democracy,” said Aquino.
This post of imagined words and action by President Aquino is my contribution to the Blog Action Day called by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines in preparation for the International Day to End Impunity on Nov. 23, the second anniversary of the Maguindanao Massacre.
We could only hope this fictional news item becomes a fact.