Indignation rally to protest the killling

of Nueva Ecija peasant leader Pascual Guevarra

 

Mendiola, ManilaI

 

July 12, 2010

 

 

The human rights alliance Karapatan condemns the killing of Pascual Guevarra, a 78-year old peasant leader in Laur, Nueva Ecija who was shot and killed in his house on Friday, July 9, 2010. Guevarra is the second activist killed under President Noynoy Aquino’s presidency; we are holding the President responsible for the escalating attacks against activists and media persons.

-- Karapatan press staement

   
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Karapatan condemns 2nd activist killing and ambush of another media person; slams P-Noy's continued silence on EJKs
Monday, July 12, 2010 8:59 AM

The human rights alliance Karapatan condemns the killing of Pascual Guevarra, a 78-year old peasant leader in Laur, Nueva Ecija who was shot and killed in his house on Friday, July 9, 2010.

Guevarra is the second activist killed under President Noynoy Aquino’s presidency; we are holding the President responsible for the escalating attacks against activists and media persons.

Also in the evening of the same day, Miguel Belen, a broadcaster in Camarines Sur was ambushed by armed men and remains in critical condition in a hospital in Iriga City. It is deplorable that attacks against media persons and activists are persisting.

President Aquino's silence on the political killings is giving the military the license to continue targetting unarmed progressive individuals with brazenness and impunity. Up to now, the President has not issued a categorical statement to stop the killings. The wang wang merited a statement in his inaugural speech, and immediately, down the line, the police and military started looking for wangwangs, apprehending violators of the President’s desire even in towns far from Manila. It is therefore, important that the Commander-in-Chief issues a categorical statement that he wants the killings and other human rights violations stopped. A simple statement will send a signal that he is bent on realizing what he say.

Karapatan also notes that the pronouncements of the new AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Ricardo David of a new three-year plan to end insurgency are not reassuring but have, in fact, signaled a new wave of political killings in the country. Last weekend, President Aquino held a command conference with the military’s top brass to supposedly discuss the military plan of his administration. The ‘human rights-centered’ military plan now merely looks like nothing but a public relations tactic to draw away the attention from the spate of killings that the armed forces are now launching.

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's counter-insurgency plan Oplan Bantay Laya (Operation Freedom Watch or OBL) has taken the lives of 1,205 unarmed individuals, mostly activists and members of progressive people's organizations, in its purported campaign to end the insurgency. We call on PNoy NOT to make his own list of victims; scrap this brutal and bloody campaign and desist from embarking on a similar program even if the new plan is coated with supposed “human rights” approaches; this plan would be more alarming as this will be more deceptive.

We call on human rights advocates and defenders here and abroad to continue to demand from P-Noy to end the impunity and stop the killings. Let us continue to be vigilant because the nightmares of OBL and the impunity are still with us; and let us continue to fight for justice for all victims of extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations.

END IMPUNITY! STOP THE KILLINGS NOW! ###

July 12, 2010
Ref: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Chairperson
Mobile: 09175616800
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Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
Web: http://www.karapatan.org

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign. It was established in 1995.

 

     
     
     
     

 

Human rights groups urge President Noynoy Aquino: Stop the Killings! Stop Human Rights Violations! End Impunity!
Submitted on Sat, 06/19/2010 - 04:10

While reporting of a successful participation to the 14th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva as a member of the Ecumenical Voice Philippine NGO delegation, Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Chairperson of Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights, condemned the continuing extrajudicial killings in the Philippines and called upon president-elect Noynoy Aquino to stop the killings and address the persistent issue of human rights violations in the country.

"It is quite alarming and deplorable that on the runup to the so-called peaceful transition between two administrations, the killings of activists and human right defenders continue to be committed with brazen impunity. We just left the country for 16 days and within that period, 6 people are summarily killed,” bewailed Karapatan chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez.

On June 1, farmers Julito Etang and Borromeo Cabilis were abducted by armed men believed to be members of the military in Mobo, Masbate. The farmers were found dead on June 3, their hands tied and mouths covered with packaging tape. On June 2, labor leader Edward Panganiban was shot dead on his way to work aboard his motorcycle, by men in bonnets and helmets who were tailing Panganiban. Panganiban was the secretary of Takata Philippines Corporation’s workers union.

On June 14, in Negros Occidental, human rights worker Benjamin Bayles was waiting for a ride in Sitio Antolo, Bgy. Suay, Himamaylan when he was shot by two men wearing helmets on board a black motorcycle. The men stopped near Bayles and one of the riders walked towards the victim and shot him multiple times. The driver also approached Bayles and shot him too, to ensure his death. Bystanders took Bayles to the hospital but he was pronounced dead-on-arrival. The police reported over the local radio that they were able to arrest the gunmen who were identified as Roger M. Bahon and Ronnie L. Caurino, and that the suspects confessed to being “organic” members of the 61st IBPA. The PNP however retracted their statement the following day and said that the suspects are not connected with the military. Bayles was a constant companion during fact-finding missions of Karapatan-Negros secretary general Fred Caña, who is also experiencing unmitigated harassment and threats.

Also on June 14, radio journalist Desiderio Camangyan was shot and killed while he was on stage, as he hosted a singing contest in Manay, Davao Oriental. The next day, another radio broadcaster, Joselito Agustin, was killed in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte while riding his motorcycle on his way home with his nephew.

Enriquez pointed out that the human rights defenders who trekked to the 14th Session of the UNHRC correctly conveyed to the Council the reigning culture of impunity engendered by Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya, the most brutal and bloodiest counter-insurgency program ever unleashed by a Philippine president. Karapatan asserts that the Macapagal-Arroyo regime must be held accountable for the human rights violations in her nine years as Commander-in-Chief. She, under the doctrine of command responsibility, as well as the perpetrators of these violations must be prosecuted and punished; this way can impunity be ended and justice can be initially rendered to victims.

“We strongly urge President-elect Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to make good to the promise he made recently to prosecute the crimes of the past administration; human rights violations like killings and enforced disappearances are grave crimes against humanity that must be prosecuted,” Hilao-Enriquez points out.

“We also urge the President-elect to scrap this so-called counter-insurgency program, identified by UN Special Rapporteur Prof. Philip Alston as one of the causes of the killings and enforced disappearances in the country, and render justice to its victims,” Hilao-Enriquez stated.

She further appeals to the new administration “never to embark into a similar campaign against the people and instead address, in a substantive manner, the root causes of such insurgency.” ###

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Groups condemn first case of extra-judicial killing on peasants under Aquino administration
 

The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and Tanggol Magsasaka (Peasant Network for Land, Justice and Human Rights) condemned the killing of Pascual Guevarra, 78 years old and a senior leader of Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid na Nagkakaisa sa 3,100 Ektarya ng Fort Magsaysay (ALMANA 3,100) under the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL, KMP Central Luzon). He was killed Friday, July 9 at 4:45pm, by two motorcycle-riding men who went inside his house at Bgy. San Isidro, Laur town. His grandson Ronnel Villoria was also wounded when he tried to help his grandfather.

“We strongly condemn the first killing of a peasant leader under the Aquino regime. We hold the Armed Forces of the Philippines, particularly the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, who controls Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation,” Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General said in a press statement.

The groups said that Guevarra is an old peasant leader who is active in pushing for land reform at their area. He led numerous dialogues with the 7th IDPA, particularly Col. Hermino Barrios of the Judge Advocate Group’s Office (JAGO) representing Maj. Gen. Ralph Bangit usually about the military’s harassment to farmers to displace them from their lands. He also attended the dialogue at Camp Aguinaldo, with the representatives of the then secretary of Dept. of National Defense (DND) Gilbert Teodoro on November 17, 2008 and countless dialogues with the Provincial Agrarian Reform Office (PARO), Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Region III office and Central Office.

“The military could never deny that they had a hand on this, as they totally control Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation. They were everywhere at the area, when we held a medical and fact-finding mission on October 5 to 6, 2008 at the area, soldiers are just roaming around, jogging, patrolling, thus, the assailants of Tatay Pascual could never have done it without their knowledge,” Ramos said.

KMP said that ALMANA 3,100 was organized by the farmers to push for their rights to land as the military is systematically harassing them to force them leave their lands. Majority of their members are also members of the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Associations (ARBA), who are holders of Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) under CARP.

The lands of Fort Magsaysay were covered by land distribution to benefit landless farmers and those displaced of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption and on November 15, 1991 a Deed of Transfer was signed by DND and DAR, giving DAR the authority on the lands. Consequently, farmers were awarded CLOAs but corrupt DAR officials peddled them to illegitimate beneficiaries such as those not actually farming at the area. In addition, the military does not recognize the transfer that was signed by their own DND secretary then Renato De Villa.

“He is already old but still fighting for his right to land, he walks around with loads of documents from DAR proving their claim. He is harmless and all he wanted was to keep their farm so that his grandchildren would have something,” Ramos said.

Tanggol Magsasaka said that of the 1,190 victims of extra-judicial killings under the Arroyo rule, 561 were peasants and 119 were KMP leaders including Eddie Gumanoy of KASAMA-TK (KMP Southern Tagalog), Renato Pacaide of KMP Far Southern Mindanao Region, Arthur Orpilla and Dionisio Battad of DANGGAYAN – CV (KMP Cagayan Valley), Marcelino Beltran of AMT (KMP Tarlac), Fermin Lorico of KAUGMAON (KMP Negros Oriental), Celso Pojas of FADC (KMP Davao City) and more. In addition, there are 129 peasants and organizers who were victimized by enforced disappearances including Nilo Arado of PAMANGGAS – Panay and Jonas Burgos of AMB (KMP Bulacan).

“We are to join the fact-finding mission organized by the AMGL on Monday and hold a condemnation protest at Mendiola to push president Noynoy Aquino to immediately act and stop the killings. He could not afford to be late and slow on the issue of extra-judicial killings in the country,” he added.

“This is very clear that Tatay Pascual’s struggle to land has made him a target of the state fascist forces. The military is obviously accountable as it happened inside their area of responsibility. They are in control of the area, they control whoever gets in or out, thus, it is impossible for the perpetrators to carry on their mission without the military’s knowledge. We would seek justice resolutely and the Aquino government should punish those responsible,” Ramos assured. #

 

     
           
 
     
 

 

Noynoy urged to punish military for the murder of two inhis first 10 days

Kilusang Mayo Uno strongly condemns the murder of another progressive leader Pascual Guevarra, the second killing in just the first 10 days of the Aquino administration.

Guevarra is 78-year old peasant leader from the Alyansa ng mga Magsasakang Nagkakaisa 3100 (Almana 3100) and Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARB) in Nueva Ecija. He is also the 60th Anakpawis member killed since 2001.

“If Noynoy really says he is against extra-judicial killings, how come he can let leaders of progressive organizations be murdered in just 10 days of him in office?” said KKMU executive vice chairperson Joselito Ustartez.

“The new Aquino leadership must act immediately – hold the responsible military units and officers accountable and prosecute them - or else the Filipino people will hold him accountable,” Ustarez dared.

“This early spate of killings also proves that the new military leadership’s claims that their so-called ‘new anti-insurgency program’ stresses respect of human rights is simply false.”

KMU will troop to the Malacañang palace on Monday together with other progressive froups to denounce the killings and demand urgent action from the Palace. #

           
   
     
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PRESS RELEASE
July 12, 2010
Reference: Roy Morilla, KMP Public Information Officer (0907-418-0098)

One-hundred-day camp-out farmers condemn first extra-judicial killing on peasants, campground at DAR to push further for land reform

The 100-day camp-out led by the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines), Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK, KMP Southern Tagalog) and Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL, KMP Central Luzon) condemned the latest and first extra-judicial killing on peasants, victimizing Pascual Guevarra, 78-year old leader of Alyansa ng Magbubukid na Nagkakaisa sa 3,100 Ektarya ng Fort Magsaysay (ALMANA 3100). He was shot dead July 9, late afternoon by believed to be agents of the military. The groups vowed to push further for land reform and kicked off by setting base camp at the central office of the Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Quezon City.

“We strongly condemn the first EJK on peasants, thus, we would struggle further for land reform by starting to set-up camp at DAR to prepare for days of dialogue with officials regarding agrarian disputes, primarily in Southern Tagalog,” said Danilo Ramos in a press statement, KMP Secretary-General.

“Killings on peasants has always been connected to their struggle for genuine land reform. Tatay Pascual of ALMANA 3100 was leading their campaign for land distribution of 3,100 hectares inside Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Laur, Nueva Ecija. They are fighting against the harassment and displacement efforts of the military, particularly the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army led by Maj. Gen. Ralph Villanueva,” said Ramos.

The groups said that the general and his forces does not recognize the farmers’ Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) which has been the result of the 1991 Deed of Transfer between Dept. of National Defense and DAR signed by then Sec. Renato De Villa and then Sec. Benjamin Leung, of respective offices. Thus, farmers were consistently harassed, houses strafed at, burned down and communities held like garrisons. Farmers led by ALMANA 3100, supported by AMGL and KMP held a dialogue at the Camp Aguinaldo on November 17, 2008 and defense officials promised to study the case.

“The past-Arroyo regime victimized at least 561 peasant activists and organizers and Tatay Pascual is the first under the Aquino government. Hence, we challenge Noynoy Aquino to immediately act to stop the killings and resolve the agrarian disputes all-over the country,” Ramos said.

“Likewise with his ‘wang-wang’ policy, where motorists and government officials are bound to follow traffic laws, we challenge him to distribute Hacienda Luisita so that other landlords and hacienderos are compelled to follow his example,” he added.

The farmers are to dialogue with DAR the issues of Hacienda Yulo in Calamba, Laguna, Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas, Ramos ‘lands’ in Dasmarinas, Cavite, Ciudad Nuevo, KPPI and Cathay ‘lands’ in Silang, Cavite, Sitio Seedling lands in Montalban, Rizal. Leaders from KASAMA-TK and its provincial chapters from Laguna, Batangas, Cavite, Rizal and lawyers from SENTRA foundation are to discourse with DAR officials.

“We want to know what Noynoy Aquino’s ‘pagbabago’ means or is it plain lipservice and his agrarian policy is likewise anti-peasant such as of Arroyo’s. We want the whole country to know that land reform issue is fundamental and Aquino should immediately act on this as this is the root of all unrest in our society,” said Ramos.

The groups vowed that they would hold more and heightened protest actions as as Aquino’s first State-of-the-Nation Address comes near on July 26 and followed by the 1st anniversary of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with ‘Reforms’ on August 7. #


 

 
     
▲  March from Bustillos to Mendila  ▼
     

 

Victims of extrajudicial killing in 12 days of the Aquino admnistration

July 9 - Pascual Guevarra, 78 years old, Anakpawis partylist member, Nueva Ecija,
July 9 - Mark Francisco, 27 years old, ACT Teachers partylist member. Masbate
July 9 - Edgar Fernandez, 44, ACT Teachers partylist member, Masbate
July 5 - Fernando Baldomero, 61 years old, Bayan Muna partylist member, Aklan
 

           
           
     
     
     

 

PRESS RELEASE
Reference: Anton Dulce, Anakbayan national vice-chairperson, 09086123260
July 12, 2010

Noynoy, get your military animals under control! – Anakbayan

Youth group Anakbayan today blasted the Aquino administration for its apparent lack of control on the Armed Forces of the Philippines after two members of progressive partylist groups were reportedly assassinated last July 9

78 year-old Pascual Guevarra, a member of partylist group Anakpawis and a leader of peasants residing within the 3,100-hectare Fort Magsaysay, was shot around 4.45pm in his home in Laur, Nueva Ecija. Meanwhile, according to initial reports, Mark Francisco of ACT Teachers’ Partylist was killed in Palanas, Masbate on the same day.

The two are the second and third activists slain under the presidency of Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino. The first is Fernando Baldomero of Bayan Muna, in Aklan, last July 5.

“Blame on this killing spree rests on the doorsteps of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. In the wake of Baldomero’s murder, the former insisted that the latter had links with the New People’s Army in an attempt to justify his death. Even before, the AFP has always gone to great lengths to demonize pro-people partylists with its sworn enemy, the NPA” said Anakbayan national vice-chairperson Anton Dulce.

After Baldomero was killed, AFP spokesperson Jose Mabanta said Baldomero was killed due to an ‘internal purge’ within the NPA, a charge which was dismissed by human rights groups as ‘pure hogwash’.

“We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: heads must roll in the military. We demand that Noynoy take drastic measures to halt the killings” he said.
The youth group had earlier called on the President to punish Mabanta for his statements.

The youth leader added that Aquino was also partly to blame for his statements against human rights violations, or lack thereof.

He said “From his inaugural speech alone, there was no strong condemnation of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances. In fact, the word ‘human rights’ wasn’t even mentioned, not even once. Human rights groups have also urged him to order the junking of the AFP’s Oplan Bantay Laya, or to order the release of the ‘Morong 43’, to send a strong message that he will not tolerate the military’s abuses. But he did none of those things”.

“Noynoy has sent a message about human rights all right: one of indecisiveness, inaction, and unwillingness to confront the armed forces” said Dulce.

Finally, the youth leader said “Our willingness to give Aquino a chance is fast-running out”. ###
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Get the latest news on burning social issues at anakbayanph.wordpress.com

 

     
     
           
     

 

July 09, 2010
 

Mr. Aquino, stop the killings!

The cold-blooded assassination of Bayan Muna Aklan coordinator and Lezo town councilor Fernando Baldomero last Monday is forcing the hand of President Benigno Aquino to not only denounce extra-judicial killings (EJKs) and promise to go after their perpetrators but to deal with its obvious link with the government’s counterinsurgency program called Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL).

Will he acknowledge it as something he has inherited but abhors and intends to put an end to? More important, what he is going to do about it, knowing full well that the people, his acknowledged "Boss", would demand more than the same avowals and promises they had likewise heard from the murderous Arroyo regime?

Mrs. Arroyo herself was forced to make some general condemnation of EJKs after the indignant reaction to the fulsome praise she heaped on a notorious general accused precisely of ordering such killings. Rising concern in the international community about the unabated murders of unarmed activists and other progressives may also have pushed Mrs. Arroyo to appoint a feisty chairperson for the nonetheless toothless human rights commission.

But there have been no credible investigations; no arrests; no successful prosecutions; and most of all, no acknowledgement that EJKs have become part and parcel of government’s counterinsurgency operations.

Thus although the numbers of EJKs and other gross human rights violations came down for a while, these started to climb up once more especially as the government’s self-imposed deadline for ending the insurgency drew near.

Mr. Aquino’s pronouncements so far about national security and peace talks and his latest address to the Philippine military in turn-over ceremonies have fallen far short of sending an unequivocal message of his administration’s commitment to uphold human rights.

Despite the gravity of the problem, it is not clear at this point whether part of building “strong, capable and disciplined security forces” includes weeding out those guilty of EJKs and their cover-up. Will Mr. Aquino give them the same leeway as did Mrs. Arroyo or will he relentlessly go after them, in as much as he is called upon to uncompromisingly seek the truth and achieve justice with regard to all the anti-people crimes of her regime?

Even with regard to the so-called Truth Commission, Mr. Aquino has so far been quite general in its announced goals, i.e. anomalies under the Arroyo government, without mention of human rights violations despite local and international outrage over hundreds of unsolved cases and clear signs that these are continuing despite a change in leadership.

The ambiguity in Mr. Aquino’s policy statements leaves much room for perpetuating the climate of impunity that persists to this day. As if on cue, the military spokesperson’s blanket denial of any AFP involvement in Mr. Baldomero’s killing and the innuendo that the NPA are more likely to be the culprits behind it reveals the military’s unchanged attitude and line on EJKs.

The victims of human rights violations expect nothing short of concrete and effective steps from the Aquino administration to put a stop to the killings and render justice to the victims. These include:

1) Investigate, arrest and prosecute the direct perpetrators of EJKs, enforced disappearances, etc and the high government officials and military/police officers who provided policy direction and political justification, praised and promoted the notorious military/police officers implicated, provided systematic cover-up and gave all-out support to Oplan Bantay Laya.

2) Put on hold, subject to review and disavow OBL as part of actualizing the statement of Presidential Spokesperson that “EJKs are not a policy” of the Aquino administration.

3) Immediately put a stop to the military’s vilification
campaign against activists and progressives, specifically linking them to the New People’s Army, thereby setting them up for “neutralization” (a military euphemism for elimination) first politically, and eventually, physically. There should be a clear repudiation of the AFP document "Knowing the Enemy" which set the direction, justified and lined up the targets for "neutralization" by the military.

4) Issue a strong warning and undertake summary action against military commanders in areas of responsibility where EJKs take place and against police superintendents who make no headway in investigating EJKs and other gross HRVs.

5) Stop the widespread practice of arresting, detaining and convicting leaders and members of progressive organizations for alleged criminal offenses on the basis of fabricated charges and evidence. Release all political prisoners detained on the basis of false charges.

Moreover, this blight on the government’s human rights record and the rule of law should not be tackled selectively. It is hoped that Mr. Aquino will not take a leaf from the way the US ambassador recently and notably called for quick official action on media killings while being conspicuously silent on the murders of activists known to be on the Left of the political spectrum.

It must be pointed out that prior governments’ track record with regard to EJKs has been dismal including the assassination of Mr. Aquino’s father, Sen. Ninoy Aquino, where the real masterminds were never officially determined, much less prosecuted and arrested.

It is perhaps a testament to the country’s real state of affairs, where the military and police are now more than ever the armed protectors of an intolerably unjust social system and whoever is the current oppressive regime presiding over it. So much so that whatever their abuses against the people, these are swept under the rug, tolerated and even justified in the name of counterinsurgency and protecting the state.

Sooner than later, the Aquino regime will be unmasked by the festering problems of Philippine society that continue to erupt with such manifestations as EJKs, fiscal crises and unmitigated poverty that no amount of feel-good rhetoric can contain and paper over.

Mr. Aquino will then be forced to confront these and will be ultimately judged by his actions and not mere promises. #

*Published in Business World
9-10 July 2010

     
     
           

Poster from the Facebook account of IE

     

BONUS TRACK

The Mendiola Peace Argh

           

The Office of the President (GMA) designed the arch and funded its construction. Mendiola has been the scene of violent dispersals by state security forces, the most violent and murderous of which was the 1987 Mendiola massacre where at least 13 peasant protesters were killed and hundreds injured.. The builders installed the name, MENDIOLA PEACE ARCH perhaps to teach the students in the vicinity the meaning of irony. The arch is also an excuse to build the iron gates beneath and keep protesters away from Malacanang.

     

They call it an Arch but nowhere in its structure is there a semi-circular part or even a small curvature..

Wait,  the arghs are in the steel gates that bar protesters from going to Malacanang.

The Mendiola massacre happened on the second year of the administration of Corazon Aquino,  the mother of the current president...
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