Since then, the Arroyo government has not put a stop the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya (Operation Freedom Watch), no high-ranking military official has been prosecuted and the IALAG continues to function.
The PNR states, “The Philippine government has taken firm measures to address the problem of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. Addressing this most urgent concern, by bringing their perpetrators to justice and preventing such killings in future, remains a priority of Government. Due to a coordinated, multi-agency approach that gathered momentum in 2007, both government and civil society have indicated a significant drop in incidents for the past year. The Philippine National Police reported that the incidence of killings of activists and media dramatically declined from 2006 to 2007.”
Editha Burgos, mother of missing activist Jonas Burgos, believes otherwise. She said that the reduction in the number of cases of extrajudicial killings and disappearances could not be attributed to the efforts of the government.
Mrs. Burgos said that the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is a party to the cover-up. “It took us six months to get the documents from the CHR which could help us expedite our search for Jonas.” If not for the writ of amparo, Mrs. Burgos said, they will not be able to get hold of the documents.
April 28 marks the first year since Jonas’ disappearance. Mrs. Burgos said they have exhausted all democratic processes, including writing to the President but they did not find her son.
The PNR cited the creation of Task Force Usig to address the killings. Mrs. Burgos said that the Task Force always tries to discredit the figures of human rights group Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of Human Rights) and to demonize the victims. “They called Jonas a terrorist/communist.”
NCCP’s Reyes also said that the PNR fails to mention that this year, at least 14 civilians have been killed while two others have been missing.
The PNR states, “The Philippines has one of the freest presses in the world. The country has a proliferation of numerous publications, broadcast programs and internet news sites. Remedies and complaints mechanisms are available to the media to ensure their freedom and independence.”
The UPR Watch noted how the Arroyo regime and its allies ‘continuously try to muzzle and intimidate the press, quell legitimate dissent, and prevent the public from knowing about its grand schemes of corruption.’ It said, “Nowhere in the report is there a mention of Proclamation 1017, Executive Order 464, the calibrated preemptive response rule and other efforts to violate our civil and political rights.”
In a statement, families of victims and rights advocates called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to hold the Arroyo regime accountable for the human rights violations in the country.
The UPR Watch further said, “The Philippine government does not deserve to sit in the UNHRC. The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) Second Session on the Philippines said that it is unacceptable that the Government of the Republic of the Philippines is a member of the UNHRC because it undermines the credibility of the UN in this field; it is an intolerable offense to the victims; and is a denial of the many well documented denunciations of the dramatic violations of human rights in the Philippines.” (Bulatlat.com)