By RONALYN OLEA
A delegation from Philippine non-government organizations will attend the 14th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, to present President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s “bloody human rights record.”
The Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights in the Philippines (Ecumenical Voice for brevity), will send a five-member delegation to Geneva for the session, which will be held from May 31 to June 18.
“We will go to Geneva to register with the UN the human rights record of GMA [Arroyo’s initials] in her nine years as president,” Marie Hilao Enriquez, chairperson of the human rights alliance Karapatan and a member of the delegation, said in a press conference Thursday.
From January 2001 to March 2010, Karapatan documented 1,191 cases of extrajudicial killings, 1,028 cases of torture and 317 political prisoners.
“She is the only president who implemented the bloodiest and most vicious counterinsurgency program because the focus of this is to attack civil-society organizations, a move that was not made by previous presidents,” Enriquez said.
Enriquez underscored “these statistics represent the scale and magnitude of the brutal impact of Oplan Bantay Laya under a so-called democratic rule.” “None in recent years can compare to the culture of impunity that characterized these assaults on human dignity,” she said.
Members of the Ecumenical Voice certify Arroyo as human rights violator (Photo courtesy of Karapatan / bulatlat.com)
“We are glad that she is going out of Malacanang but she has to be made accountable for the extrajudicial killings and the vicious human right violations that took place in her nine-year presidency,” Rev. Fr. Rex Reyes, Jr., general secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) and head of the Ecumenical Voice, said.
Enriquez said the Philippine government should be ashamed of its record especially because it is a member of the UN Human Rights Council.
The members of the delegation will give “oral interventions” during the reporting of committees and rapporteurs that are relevant to the Philippine human rights situation.
Roneo Clamor, husband of Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor and deputy secretary general of Karapatan, pointed out that the Arroyo government did not rescind Oplan Bantay Laya despite being recommended by Prof. Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on summary executions.
Alston visited the country in February 2007.
Morong 43, Ampatuan Massacre
The Ecumenical Voice will specifically bring the cases of the Morong 43 and the Ampatuan massacre to the UN Human Rights Council.
On February 6, 43 health workers were arrested in Morong, Rizal while conducting a health skills training. The military accused them of being members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
Roneo Clamor said the case of the Morong 43 is a “significant example of how the Arroyo government implements Oplan Bantay Laya.”
Clamor said the 43 health workers underwent physical and psychological torture. “Until now, there is no implementing rules and regulations to the Anti-Torture Law. The relatives of the Morong 43 are determined to file cases once an IRR is there,” Clamor said.
The Anti-torture Law was enacted on Nov. 10, 2009. One of the functions of the UN Human Rights Council is to monitor the compliance of member-states to human rights conventions and instrumentalities.
“Hopefully, the Philippine government will react to this pressure,” Clamor said.
Carlos Zarate, secretary general of the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) and one of the lawyers for colleague Connie Brizuela who was among the victims of the Ampatuan massacre, and Edre Olalia, acting secretary general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), will also join the Ecumenical Voice delegation.
“ We will state our case for sustained international monitoring and pressure for the Philippine government to comply with its commitments and pledges to universally-accepted human rights instrumentalities,” Clamor said.
Reyes said they are hoping “that the UNHRC will help push the Philippine government under presumptive president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to fulfill his promise to prosecute President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, accord justice to the victims of human rights violations, end political repression, discontinue the OBL and never embark on any similar policy, and address the roots of the insurgency, namely poverty and injustice.” (Posted by Bulatlat.com)