There has been no substantial change from martial law to Noynoy Aquino, especially in the human rights situation in the country. This is the logical conclusion one could draw after the horrors of repression during martial law were recalled and highlighted during the commemoration of its 40th year of imposition. Brought to the fore were stories of gross human rights violations during one of the darkest periods in Philippine history.
Noynoy Aquino led the government’s commemoration of the 40th year of martial law and, for the nth time, recalled the sufferings of his family under the dictatorship. A week later, Noynoy Aquino would be seen in the company of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, the architect of martial law, and Imelda Marcos, the dictator’s widow. Meanwhile, victims of martial law still have to see the Aquino government’s will to push for the indemnification of the victims of Marcos’s campaign of suppression. The indemnification of martial law victims remains sidetracked, 26 years after the dictatorship was ousted. So much for justice and indemnification.
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.
Oplan Bayanihan (OpBay), the counter-insurgency program of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, heightens the use of civic-military activities in communities as a cloak over intensifi ed combat operations and attacks against the people’s leaders and organizations. It is even more deceptive than, but equally vicious as the previous government’s Oplan Bantay Laya because of adornments of “peace” and “development.”
It has been a year since President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III was elected president. His and his government’s performance has been mediocre. Specifi cally, his campaign promises relating to human rights remain unfulfilled.
Noynoy failed to render justice to the victims of human rights violations (HRV) under the U.S.-Arroyo regime. No one during his first year in Malacanang has been prosecuted among the perpetrators of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance, torture, arbitrary arrests, illegal detention and military atrocities in the countryside.
Election-related violence and the continuing spate of extra-judicial killing, as Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) fails to meet its target of putting an end to the communist revolutionary movement, characterize the human rights situation in the Second Quarter of 2010.
The first quarter of 2010 is marked by mass arrest, detention and torture of health workers and farmers. Arresting security forces utilized fabricated charges and unfounded accusations. Consistent with 2010 as the end-year of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration's Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL), extrajudicial killing and harassment and vilification of legal organizations and personalities continue. Of special concern is the unexplained death of a civilian employee in the U.S. military barracks in Marawi City.
The years 2009 and 2010 are critical as Oplan Bantay Laya 2 (OBL 2) approaches its deadline. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) might very well rush to meet OBL 2 objectives, which are repeatedly stressed by Secretary of National Defense Gilbert Teodoro who is more hawkish than some of the generals. OBL 2’s thrust remains to be the “dismantling (of) the political structure of the communist terrorist group” through the neutralization (physical elimination) of perceived “enemies of the state”, whether combatants, activists of the legal democratic movement, mediapersons, lawyers and church people.