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Rights group reports on the state of human rights in the Philippines

OBL bloodiest, most brutal campaign vs. Filipino people -- Karapatan
 

At a media briefing, the national human rights alliance, KARAPATAN, presented its annual report on the human rights situation as well as the almost-decade’s old Arroyo administration’s human rights record.

The 2009 Report on the Human Rights Situation in the Philippines was presented in observance of the December 10 International Human Rights Day, and in the midst of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's implementation of Martial Law in Maguindanao province, which the rights groups strongly opposes.

The Report features the cases of violation of human rights documented by Karapatan, from January to October of 2009. It also features a comprehensive analysis of the regime's counter-insurgency plan, Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL), which victimized legal, progressive and unarmed individuals for the span of 5 years.

In its 52-page report, Karapatan said that the OBL is "by far the bloodiest and most brutal counter-insurgency campaign unleashed on the Filipino people by any president" for it "lumps together" the armed revolutionary movement, legal and democratic organizations, media and political opposition” as targets to quell the growing dissent against Arroyo's political and economic policies.

Karapatan also emphasized that the OBL "fosters a reign of terror and climate of impunity that encourage even her warlord minions to massacre scores of men and women in a gruesome carnage in Ampatuan, Maguindanao."

Statement on the Declaration of Martial Law in Maguindanao

The human rights alliance, KARAPATAN, condemns the Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo regime for declaring a state of Martial Law in the province of Maguindanao in the aftermath of the Ampatuan massacre.  Not only is Presidential Proclamation 1959 highly unconstitutional; it is NOT the solution to bring the perpetrators of the killings of 57 individuals, which included lawyers and journalists, to justice.  

The declaration is very reprehensible in that the massacre is being used to justify a more draconian measure which will greatly affect more people and again allow an opportunity for the masterminds of the gruesome crime to eventually escape punishment.

As history has shown us, martial law is open for abuse. The declaration of Martial Law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Maguindanao can and will lead to more human rights violations and atrocities in the province.  Even without placing the province under military control, the paramilitary groups such as the CAFGU, CVO and CAA controlled by Arroyo’s warlord ally, the Ampatuans, prevailed in the province which sowed fear in the hearts of and disrupted the lives of the civilian population.  Placing the province under direct military control would not differ much and in fact, might aggravate the already volatile situation.  As it is, after the massacre, and before the declaration of martial law in the province, the government has already deployed a large number of troops in the area.

Inaction on and tolerating human rights violations abet crimes such as the Maguindanao massacre

KARAPATAN condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the massacre of 57 civilians which included media persons and two women lawyers in Maguindanao, on November 23, 2009.

Early this year, the human rights alliance has warned of escalating violence as extrajudicial killings have continued despite declarations from the Arroyo government that it is adhering to the recommendations of the UNSR on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Prof. Philip Alston; and as the government-pronounced deadline of ending the insurgency comes to a close in 2010, which is also an election year.

The Maguindanao massacre was an event waiting to happen with the continued implementation of this criminal government’s anti-insurgency program, Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL). Under OBL, the recruitment of para-military groups such as the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU), CAFGU Active Auxiliary (CAA) and Civilian Volunteer Organization (CVO’s) as well as the arming of these individuals have persisted and in fact have been resorted to by the government in its mad design of purportedly “ending the insurgency by 2010.” Such groups, which have been placed under the supervision and effective control of the military, have been tagged, together with the latter and the police, as responsible for various human rights violations happening around the country.

Karapatan condemns military for the killing of human rights advocate Fr. Lucero

Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples' Rights today condemned the military for the killing of of human rights advocate and Catholic priest Fr. Cecilio Lucero and for other human rights violations in the province, at the public presentation of the report of the national fact-finding mission (NFFM).

The fact-finding mission which was conducted on October 7 to 10, 2009, was initiated by Karapatan and with Katungod-Sinirangang Bisayas-Northen Samar and the Promotion of Church People's Response (PCPR) to look into the Lucero’s killing.

KARAPATAN reiterates call for greater vigilance to protect the people’s rights; condemns continuing human rights violations

The human rights alliance Karapatan today raised the alarm on the continuing assault to the people’s rights and reiterates its call to the public for greater vigilance on the alarming continuing killings, abductions, militarization of both urban and rural communities, harassments and surveillance of civilians and other human rights violations reminiscent of the martial law period.

Jun Cruz Reyes at pressconIn a press conference today, Karapatan Chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez joined the UP organizations in denouncing the series of surveillance operations committed on artist, writer and UP professor Jun Cruz Reyes, by men believed to be military intelligence agents.

Reyes, a writer and professor at the University of the Philippines reported that on September 13, 2009, a man approached him at an eatery and photographed him without his permission. He also divulged that on the same day and on September 10, men who looked like soldiers went to and observed his house in Bulacan. Reyes also disclosed that on November 15, 2007, men in army fatigues with their faces covered attempted to bribe his neighbor to point out his whereabouts.  He also said that in August of 2007, two men who looked like soldiers attempted to enter his house but the dogs’ barking gave their presence away so the men ran when they saw that neighbours saw what they tried to do.  After this incident, his dog was poisoned. Reyes also revealed that in 2006, he was warned by his friend that he was in the Philippine Army's so-called "order of battle" list, a list believed to be targets for "liquidation."