“Pnoycchio” and his Biggest Lies
Pinocchio, the famous character in children’s literature, is known to have a nose that grows when he tells a lie. As Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino’s term is about to end, he may be remembered as “Pnoycchio” and we can imagine him with an extra-long nose for his biggest lies and undelivered promises, including:
1. Promise to prioritize the passage of Freedom of Information Bill at the height of his presidential campaign. FACT: This has never been the priority of majority of lawmakers and the president himself who have been involved in the multi-million pork barrel scam. Giving the public access to more information is obviously far from the minds of those in power who would do everything to cover up evidence of their corruption, including Mr. Aquino and Budget Sec. Florencio Abad’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) that was declared illegal by the Supreme Court.
2. Promise to resolve the Ampatuan massacre case before the end of his term. FACT: The media group bulatlat.com report notes that 75 of the more than a hundred suspects remain at large. Worse, one of the primary suspects, Sajid Islam Ampatuan is now running for office. He was released on March 9 after posting P11.6-milllion ($246,000) bail bond. More killings of journalists also continued under Aquino.
3. Promise to ensure justice for human rights victims. FACT: The illegal arrests and extra-judicial killings of activists, including anti-corruption crusaders and anti-mining advocates like the Lumad in Mindanao, continued with impunity. Facing multiple plunder charges, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile became a free man in 2015 after he posted bail to the tune of P1.45 million. Meanwhile, Mr. Aquino remained deaf to the appeals to release political prisoners especially the sick and elderly like Eduardo Serrano who recently suffered heart attack and died while waiting for his freedom.
Pnoycchio will be remembered for his zero-rate conviction for the numerous cases of human rights abuses under his predecessors and under his own watch. It is most deplorable that under Aquino, Marcos-style corruption, media killings and human rights abuses persist to this day 30 years on since the February 1986 EDSA People Power uprising that supposedly restored democracy in the Philippines. We in the international community stand with the Filipino people in their quest for truth, justice and meaningful change. We join their hopes for the next administration to immediately release all political prisoners, render justice to victims of human rights abuses and restore favourable conditions for the resumption of formal peace talks.
Convenor, Australian Chapter, International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines
Secretary, Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA)
Christchurch, New Zealand