October 4, 2010
Lawyers’ Group Seriously Studying Having UNHRC Decision Enforced in the Philippines; Vows to Continue Prosecuting HR Cases before national and international bodies.
In a press release today, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) lauded the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) decision finding the Philippine government under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo responsible for the death of human rights worker and campus journalist Benjaline Hernandez in 2003.
Hernandez was the deputy secretary general of Karapatan Southern Mindanao. The case was filed and submitted under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) against the Philippine government as a state party. The Committee is composed of more than a dozen former judges, jurists and human rights experts from different countries.
This is the second case filed before the UNHRC during the time of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration which found the latter liable for human rights violations. The first case was in regard to the brutal slaying of KARAPATAN Southern Tagalog Secretary General Eden Marcellana and peasant leader Eduardo Gumanoy in 2003.
Atty. Edre U. Olalia, Secretary-General of the NUPL, and who assisted Karapatan in the filing and pursuit of the two cases, stated that, “This is another fatal blow against the former administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her cohorts who are held responsible for the unprecedented record of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances under their watch.”
“The findings of the UNHRC on these two cases that the state’s authority to investigate, prosecute and resolve human rights violations such as extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, if ineffective and tainted with unreasonable delays, thus not bar the filing of complaints in the international fora even before domestic remedies are impractically exhausted set a significant precedent and doctrine. It will encourage human rights victims and their families all over to seek international recourse especially if domestic remedies are frustratingly prolonged or even illusory.” Olalia added.
Olalia further commented that the NUPL is seriously studying having these decisions enforced in the Philippines saying that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, former Gen. Jovito Palparan and their cohorts should be criminally, civilly and administratively accountable for the killing of thousands of activists and other civilians from 2001-2010 even as it vowed to continue filing cases before domestic courts and agencies and international bodies to prosecute perpetrators of human rights violations.
The NUPL, in its recently concluded 2nd Congress, vowed to expand and consolidate its ranks to prosecute human rights violations and to contribute to the ending of impunity by not letting the perpetrators get away with it wherever they are.
The filing of the impeachment complaint against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez is but one of the steps consistent with this thrust and towards this direction, Olalia pointed out.
ATTY. EDRE U. OLALIA
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)