The world is worried about the progress of the Philippine government’s compliance on human rights. This, despite President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s offer to raise P25 million as reward for witnesses to testify in order to solve the 1,013 cases of extrajudicial killings under her administration.
BY RITCHE T. SALGADO
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
CEBU CITY– The world is worried about the progress of the Philippine government’s compliance on human rights, this, despite President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s offer to raise P25 million $529,100 at the May 9, 2009 exchange rate of $1=P47.25) as reward for witnesses to testify in order to solve the 1,013 cases of extrajudicial killings under her administration.
Dr. Gary W. King, a founding member of Amnesty International (AI) in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota, said in an interview with Bulatlat, that with the government’s record of “protecting” potential witnesses it would be unlikely for people to come forward.
King cited the case of Siche Bustamante-Gandinao, 59, who, in 2007 was gunned down after testifying before United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Phillip Alston on the killing of her father-in-law, Dalmacio Gandinao, a former coordinator of Bayan Muna (People First). Bustamante-Gandinao, ironically, took over her late father-in-law’s responsibility in Bayan Muna when she was shot.
King, who has been studying the spate of human rights abuses in the Philippines since the early 1980s, said that the international community is angry that instead of condemning the epidemic of human rights abuses in the country, the Arroyo administration is instead showing signs that it is condoning these.
King expressed his dismay on the government’s inaction on the findings and recommendations of several international human rights missions including that of Professor Alston’s, asking for the government to work to achieve convictions “in a significant number of extrajudicial executions.”
“What really concerns us is not only the lack of investigation but that fact that infamous people like (Major) General Jovito Palparan would get promoted, would get medals, and now he has even made it into your government as a partylist congressman,” King lamented.
“Nowhere does there seem to be a chance to bring into light of day some of his acts of gross human rights violations,” he said.
King said that reports by AI, Human Rights Watch, and other independent groups have underlined that wherever Palparan was assigned, cases of extrajudicial killings are bound to rise. “All of these people are saying, ‘Where is the investigation of Jovito Palparan?’” King said.
“We are not happy at all with this treatment by the government. He should be investigated potentially for gross human rights violations,” King added.