Update on Dennis Maga tour
As the President of the Philippines Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo received a state lunch from Prime Minister Helen Clark, Filipino unionist Dennis Maga and friends held a protest outside to highlight the human rights abuses Arroyo has encouraged in her own country.
Maga stood inside a cage to highlight the continuing imprisonment of Congressman Crispin Beltran - locked up for daring to oppose Arroyo. Photos here.
Apparently 858 extrajudicial killings are not enough to put Arroyo or Clark off their lunch. The US and Chinese Ambassadors also joined in the lunch - but then these two countries don't have a stellar human rights record either. The Philippines are a key ally of the US in the 'war on terrorism'.
Congrats to the leadership of New Zealand's trade unions who walked out on the lunch.
Interviewed in New Zealand today, Arroyo claimed due process is being followed in the case of Mr Beltran. Bullshit. Arroyo is lying. The Inter-Parliamentary Union has called for Beltran's immediate release. Also, under the Philippine Constitution it is illegal for a member of Congress to be detained in the way Arroyo has locked up Ka Bel.
Arroyo admitted today that her country had a problem with political killings, but she failed to be completely upfront about this - a significant part of the problem starts with A and ends with O.
Dennis Maga says Mrs Arroyo's regime is the worst in his country's history, with the political death toll - about 130 a year - even worse than the 100 a year killed under dictator Ferdinand Marcos' in the 1970s and 1980s.
Helen Clark refused to condemn Mrs Arroyo's record, but said the Government was committed to providing help. Oh, and something about selling a lot of butter.
New Zealand and the Philippines have signed a 'police co-operation' agreement. I hope the New Zealand authorities are not looking for new ways to deal with happy valley protesters :) While Clark was looking for trade opportunities, and she has talked in the past of 'internationalising' SOEs, she should not let Solid Energy open up a mine in the Philippines. As we have seen this week, there appears to be no end to the methods they would use to protect 'their business'.
But protecting the business was exactly what Clark was doing today. The small matter of 858 deaths came up for little if any discussion.