Ghastly and horrible are no apt terms to describe the brutal murder of Rebelyn Pitapo, 20-year old teacher and daughter of high-ranking commander of the New People’s Army (NPA). And President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was too concerned that she ordered the Philippine Human Rights Committee and Commission of Human Rights probe into the matter. Concerned perhaps because the incident came in the wake of her new attempt at peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front.
Suppose that the President was personally affected as a woman and acted on sensibility, in addition to responsibility. This is good and goes to show that the President is also human like us. But I wonder if the President was also affected by what happened in Mendiola last February 12. She would have been and said or ordered something that was not, however, fed to the media. I don’t remember her saying something in tone similar to the case of Rebelyn on the cases of still missing Jonas Burgos and killing of unknown farmer leaders like Ka Eric Cabanit, Ka Pepito Santillan.
The President could have publicly denounced the violent and inhumane dispersal of farmers last February 12 and ordered disciplinary actions on the anti-riot police doing such dispersal. She could have done the same instruction to the CHR to probe such incident. And she could have used the incident to urge Congress to fast-track the legislation of extension and reform of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
Now, Congress has adjourned session to give way to the Lenten season without any piece of legislation for the farmers. House Speaker Prospero Nograles’ promise of a Valentine gift did not materialize at all. And there are no greater reasons why farmers should observe Lent.