20 September 2010
As PRES. Benigno Simeon Aquino III flies off to the United States on official visit, the alliance of human rights groups in the Philippines, KARAPATAN, questioned the $434-million USD compact grant by the Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of the US as a “violation of its own selection criteria” and “encourages governments allied with the US to continue human rights violations as what the US did in the Philippines.”
KARAPATAN issued the statement on the eve of commemorating the declaration of Martial Law. The country must remember that the Marcos dictatorship received substantial US support throughout its 14-year rule of open terror.
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of the human rights alliance KARAPATAN and a martial law victim herself, said that the MCC itself stipulated in the selection criteria that, ‘for a country to be selected as eligible for an MCC assistance program, it must demonstrate a commitment to policies that promote political and economic freedom, investments in education and health, the sustainable use of natural resources, control of corruption, and respect for civil liberties and the rule of law.” [http://www.mcc.gov/pages/selection]
“Clearly having more than a thousand victims of extra-judicial killings, with 13 under the new administration in just barely three months, more than 200 victims of enforced disappearances, and 380 political prisoners languishing in jails and detention centers throughout the country with trumped-up charges do not show political freedom and respect for civil liberties and, therefore, a violation of the MCC’s own selection criteria,” Enriquez said.
“US government support to the Philippines, after direct colonization, has always been detrimental to the country. This time, we fear that the funds would only encourage governments allied with the US to continue human rights violations as what is happening in the Philippines,” Enriquez added.
Meanwhile, international delegates to the 5th Conference of Lawyers in Asia-Pacific (COLAP) are set to visit 38 of the Morong 43 illegally arrested, tortured and detained health workers at the Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig, Metro Manila. Five (5) of them are still being held by the military at Camp Capinpin and whose conditions are hard to ascertain. COLAP is organized by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) on consultative status with ECOSOC and UNICEF.
The Morong 43 case, still pending at the regional trial courts and being appealed at the Supreme Court, is up for review by the Department of Justice as pledged by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.