NoteNOTE: Clipping was still a bit damp, so we miss a word. Is it ‘courageous’?
Enriquez Collection: Lapuyan Subanon Giant Phingi. Drawing Estarte
The Waterlogged Files #02
“Death Squads Cross the Pacific”
New York Times, Monday, November 19, 1984. Not one but three treacherous murders: first Benigno Aquino, then Alexander Orgullo, now Cesar Climaco. It maybe that each crime came as a shock to Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. But for these and other killings, no one has been punished. It’s as if Central American’s death-squads were taking distant root.
Death squads are an especially ugly instrument of terror. Recruited by security forces, the killers pretend to operate on their own. Thus government can disavow the marauders yet by protecting them still intimate opponents.
Is that what’s happening in the Philippines? When Mr. Aquino was killed at Manila airport in August 1983, the President blamed a lone Communist gunman. His own inquiry has now found otherwise and accused high military officers. The promise of swift, impartial trials is not yet kept.
The latest victims, too, are prominent critics of Mr. Marcos. Mr. Orcullo, the regional secretary of an opposition party in Mindanao, was shot on Oct. 19 by men in military fatigues. His family suspects gunmen belonging to a paramilitary group trained by the army. There have been no arrests.
Last Tuesday, in what Mr. Marcos calls “a major blow’ against decency, a __ (unreadable) mayor in the same province was shot by a single gunman. Mayor Cesar Climaco is not an obscure victim. When martial law was imposed in 1972, he vowed not to cut his hair until it was lifted. Nine years later, when Mr. Marcos yielded a bit, Mayor Climaco cut his locks accordingly, to shoulder length. He was known for such flair but also for effective campaigns against crime.
President Marcos has ordered yet another high-level inquiry. But the United States, bound to the Philippines by history and strategic interest, needs to do more than join in the hand-wringing. El Salvador makes the point: “When the Reagan Administration finally passed a blunt warning to its military, the death-squad killings dropped off dramatically.
The United States’ influence in Manila is almost as great. A blunt warning about America’s deepening concern stop the bloodletting.
Next: The Waterlogged Files #03: “Philippine Opposition Leader Assassinated”