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I am posting here my FaceBook note  on the subject. I know it will raise hackles and stir controversy from predictable friends.

Etta in the CHR

If one needs another argument why Etta should be appointed to the Commission on Human Rights, it is in the strident and frantic cries of Karapatan, Bulatlat.com, KMU, Anak-Bayan, and I predict, all the way to the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front, to the effect that appointing a “McCarthyist” Etta Rosales would be the “single worst act of political madness that Aquino can commit.”

Evidently, this political block wants to prevent Rosales’ appointment. It is interesting to delve deeper why. Everybody knows Etta’s human rights record and position on human rights. She was a torture victim of the Marcos dictatorship. In the course of fighting the dictatorship, she became involved and became one of the pioneers of the Philippine human rights movement. As a 3-term party-list representative, she was active in the Committee on Human Rights, eventually becoming its Chairperson. She has become known for championing human rights issues, such as in the repeal of the death penalty law, human rights compensation for Marcos HR victims, and on the issues of impunity and extra-judicial killings. Among numerous interventions, she was instrumental or active in the search for Jonas Burgos, in the protection of the rights of Vic Ladlad, and in the negotiations on the impending arrests of Satur Ocampo, Liza Maza, and the late Ka Bel.

What stands out in her human rights advocacy that earned the ire of this particular political block and their allies is Etta’s insistence that universal human rights be applied to state and non-state actors alike and acts of violations by quasi-state insurgent groups such as the CPP-NDF and MILF be treated on the same level as those acts perpetrated by the State.

Thus, the treacherous killing of former NPA chief Rolly Kintanar by the NPA’s special assassination squad is as much a human rights violation as the forced disappearance of Jonas Burgos and both should be condemned. The bombing of cellphone sites by the NPA guerillas is as condemnable as the military’s food blockades. The death threats against and warrantless arrests of electoral candidates not paying the CPP-imposed Permit to Campaign (PTC) are violations of human rights and should be condemned.

The CPP and its political allies have no one to blame but their own skewed concept of class-based human rights. It is a concept of a world in which the CPP and its political allies can do no human rights violations and everybody agrees that it is always others–even if they are not their enemies–who are the only ones to be blamed for human rights violations.

Now, they would prevent Etta from assuming the CHR chairpersonship. The subtext here is they want somebody who will skew the universal application of human rights (as they mistakenly took to be the position of the recent CHR chairperson–a gross disservice and back-handed compliment to a fine human rights defender).

In so doing, it is possible they may get the opposite of their wishes. Chances are, from the State’s point of view, if it’s not Etta, it would a more rightwing figure. Certainly, Malacanang (and the military) will not appoint somebody who will play a biased hand against the State (sarcasm intended).

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