‘No Change in Human Rights Situation Under Aquino’ – Karapatan

According to Karapatan, there have been at least 25 victims of extrajudicial killings, two victims of enforced disappearance, 16 victims of torture, and 18 victims of illegal detention under the Aquino administration. It has barely been five months since Aquino took over on June 30.


MANILA – The commemoration of International Human Rights Day this year became a celebration because of the withdrawal of charges against the detained health workers who are collectively called as the Morong 43. But still, cause-oriented groups maintained that there has essentially been no change in the human rights situation under the Aquino administration. They said it is the people’s collective action that made Aquino act on the case of the detained health workers.

According to Karapatan, there have been at least 25 victims of extrajudicial killings, two victims of enforced disappearance, 16 victims of torture, and 18 victims of illegal detention under the Aquino administration. It has barely been five months since Aquino took over on June 30.

Members of cause-oriented groups led by Karapatan and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) marched from different assembly points in Manila toward Don Chino Roces (former Mendiola) bridge calling for justice for all victims of human rights violations and vigilance on the continuing violations.

Increasing Human Rights Violations

“We are working to earn a living then Mayor Alfredo Lim wants to phase it out. They are not only violating our human rights but also our right to live,” said Fernando Picorro of Alyansa ng mga Nagkakaisang Pedicab at Kuliglig Drivers ng Maynila (ALNAPEDKU-Manila), referring to the violent dispersal of their mobilization at the Manila City hall last Dec. 1.

Picorro said under the Aquino administration, their human rights are being gravely violated. “If this is the straight path he is talking about, then we would just take the winding road.”

Meanwhile, Giovanni Tapang, national chairman of Agham (Science and Technology for the People, not the party list group) said the recent killing of renowned botanist Leonard Co and companions Julius Borromeo and Sofronio Cortez proves that the climate of impunity persists. “We are reminded by the killings of Leonard Co and his companions that violations on human rights continue. The counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya II, which continues to be implemented today, engendered a climate of impunity that encourages the military to shoot first before asking questions later,” Tapang said.

Lorena Santos, deputy secretary general of Desaparecidos, criticized the Aquino administration for offering amnesty to his father Leo Velasco. “They said that my father Leo Velasco and his colleague Prudencio Calubid can file for amnesty. Are they insulting us? My father and Calubid have been missing up to now. Besides, they are not criminals, why should they avail of amnesty!” Santos said. “My father and Calubid did not do anything wrong. They have been fighting for what is right and we would continue what they have started.”

Velasco was abducted on Feb. 19, 2007 while Calubid was abducted on June 26, 2006.

Santos said the perpetrators of the 206 cases of enforced disappearance under the past government of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo have not been prosecuted.

Glen Malabanan of Karapatan-Southern Tagalog (Karapatan-ST) said that after Aquino took power, the Southern Tagalong region has experienced an intensification of violations of human rights. “There are already eight victims of extrajudicial killings, one victim of enforced disappearance, and 66 political detainees, ” she said.

Malabanan also scored the intensifying militarization in the provinces of Laguna and Batangas.

Meanwhile, Rommel Linatoc of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) questioned Aquino’s sincerity in taking the righteous path when the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) could not push through. He said the Aquino administration should implement the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). Both agreements were signed by both parties.

Linatoc added that the Aquino administration should also take seriously the formation of the Reciprocal Working Group for the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER). Based on the Hague Joint Declaration, which lays down the framework of the peace negotiations, the CASER is the second agenda following the CARHRIHL.

US’s Hand

“There has been no substantial change under the Aquino administration, only cosmetic changes. We would continue to expose this administration’s anti people policies and we would uphold and fight for pro-people policies and justice,” former Bayan Muna representative Satur Ocampo said during the rally.

Ocampo said that on January 2011, a new counterinsurgency plan patterned after the 2009 United States Counterinsurgency Guide (COIN) will be implemented by the Aquino administration.

“The Aquino administration is no different from the past administration. It is still under the dictate of the United States,” said Ocampo. He pointed out that public private partnership projects, conditional cash transfers are all for the interests of foreign investors and would only make poverty worse for the poor. Former Gabriela Women’s Party representative Liza Maza also said the country’s economic policy still serves imperialist countries like the U.S.


“The mass movement against repression of human rights by the government has won the struggle in the case of the health workers,” Marie Hilao-Enriquez, national chairwoman of Karapatan said.

“Only through the unity and determination of the Filipino people would we triumph against human rights violations,” Enriquez said. (Bulatlat.com)

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