More than 20 country members of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) called attention to the continuing extrajudicial killings (EJK), enforced disappearances, torture and other human rights violations (HRVs) and the prevailing climate of impunity in the Philippines.
On May 29, 2012, the Philippine government went through the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland. Expectedly, the Aquino government played its cards close to its vest as State parties and the international community examined the human rights situation in the Philippines. The GPH delegation tried to gloss over the hard facts on the unabated human rights violations and the reign of impunity in the country as it hyped the enactment of one or two national laws and the approval of some international instruments related to human rights.
“And so this is justice under Aquino -- torturers are given plum positions in the military, and the rich, powerful and notorious human rights violators like Palparan and Arroyo are mockingly free as preying vultures. No wonder, Noynoy deliberately omitted anything on human rights and peace in his SONA, a tacit and dangerous signal for state security forces to continue to prowl, with terror and violence against the people.”
Thus said Karapatan spokesperson Cristina Palabay, after news came out on the court resolution granting bail for former Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the designation of Morong 43 torturer Col. Aurelio Baladad as acting commanding officer of the 9th Infantry Division of the Phil. Army, shortly after Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA). In his SONA, Aquino heralded the state of “justice” under his administration.
(Cristina Palabay, Karapatan spokesperson, on the statement of Malacañang spokesperson Edwin Lacierda on Aquino’s human rights record)
Broken promises, blame games, unabated human rights violations – these characterize Malacañang’s response to calls for Pres. Aquino to stop the killings and human rights violations under his administration.
Malacañang spokesperson Edwin Lacierda’s statement shows the Aquino administration’s propensity to squirm out from each and every responsibility for extrajudicial killings and rights violations by blaming a branch of government under its auspices. It is the simply the lamest of excuses, as it disregards the efforts of victims and their families to file cases against rights violators, no thanks to Aquino. It simply manifests this administration’s low regard for the pursuit of justice for the victims and, in putting an end to killings and impunity. With this frame of mind, it is no wonder why Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. remains free from arrest up to this time.
MAY WE REMIND LACIERDA THAT AQUINO HIMSELF PROMISED THESE “REFORMS” DURING HIS ELECTION CAMPAIGN AND INAUGURAL SPEECH; PROMISES THAT REMAIN AS BROKEN AS AQUINO’S RECORD ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN HIS TWO YEARS IN OFFICE.
A week before Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), political prisoners from Luzon to Mindanao are conducting a one-week fast to push the call for the release of all political prisoners.
“It has been two years since we started to campaign and lobby for the release of political prisoners who are in various jails, but President Noynoy Aquino not only ignored our call but also arrested and detained 107 more farmers, indigenous peoples, leaders of organizations and activists, as well as suspected rebels. As of June 30, 2012, there are now 385 political prisoners,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of both Karapatan and SELDA.
Karapatan said that Noynoy Aquino cannot just shrug off his shoulders, declare that he is different from the past GMA regime and blame it for all the ills besetting his “matuwid na daan” administration. He cannot go on pretending that there are no political prisoners in the country because “he is already responsible for detaining 107 activists based mostly on fabricated charges in the same way as Gloria did through the brutal Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL).”
Human rights group Karapatan today affirmed the observations of the United Nations Special Rapporteurs (UN-SR) on human rights defenders and extrajudicial killings on the “growing number of threats and killings of rights defenders” in the Philippines. The statement by the UN mandate holders was released on July 9, two weeks prior to Phil. Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).
UN Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights Defenders Margaret Sekaggya and on Extrajudicial Killings, Christof Heyns released the following statement, which can be accessed through http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=12333&LangID=E.
As the human rights group expresses its condemnation on the recent extrajudicial killing (EJK) of Willem Geertman, Karapatan today said that the human rights situation in the country under the Aquino administration has gone worse.
Cristina Palabay, spokesperson of Karapatan said the rights group has documented 95 victims of extrajudicial killings (EJK) from July 2010 to June 30, 2012, with Geertman as the 96th reported victim in the first two years of Aquino. Among the 95 victims, 43 of them were rights workers in various organizations and institutions. Many are farmers, indigenous peoples and environmental activists.
Karapatan is deeply saddened by the death of Arman Arbarillo, a human rights defender and a guerrilla fighter.
Arman reminds us of the terror of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) and how her favorite butcher, the fugitive Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr., left a trail spattered with blood of more than a thousand people killed. Palparan then led the 204th Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that was deployed in the island of Mindoro where Arman’s family lived.
AFP modernization budget aggravates HR situation, militarization
“This is where the people’s taxes go—to buy arms and ammunition to protect the interests of big business and landlords and against innocent civilians and those who defend their lives and livelihood,” said Karapatan spokesperson, Cristina Palabay.