MANILA – Lakbayanis and rights activists protested in front of the Department of Justice (DOJ) today, Nov. 5, over its seeming deliberate inaction on cases of human rights violations in the country.
“The pattern of non-prosecution of murderers and torturers in the military and paramilitary groups, and the filing of trumped up charges against known Lumad leaders and leaders of progressive organizations standing up for their rights are key roles of the DOJ in the whole scheme of this counterinsurgency program,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.
“It played a significant part in using the legal system to promote the climate of impunity in the Philippines and to violate the rights of human rights defenders and political activists,” she said.
The Lakbayanis, the delegates of Manilakbayan, joined the protest.
Under the Administrative Order No. 25, the DOJ and other government agencies formed a task force that would supposedly look into cases of human rights violations. But Karapatan said even known cases such as the murder of Italian priest Fr. Fausto Tentorio, the Capion family and more recently, the Sept. 1 killing in Lianga, Surigao del Sur remain pending before the DOJ.
Such deliberate inaction, said Palabay, “has furthered the climate of impunity and is encouraging further rights violations in Mindanao and all-over the country.
Palabay said the DOJ has taken the place of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Inter-Agency Legal Advisory Group (IALAG) that led the filing of trumped up cases under her counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya.
“The DOJ is responsible for the fabricated criminal charges against the 555 political prisoners, who are hounded by tortuous legal proceedings, barefaced maneuvers of the military, and the repressive and inhumane conditions in jail,” she said.
In recent months, church leaders and high-profile activists were charged with trumped up cases such as kidnapping, illegal detention and human trafficking in various regions in Mindanao due to their support to the plight of the Lumad.
Palabay said, “There is no middle ground to justice. There are only the perpetrator and the victims. And in our case, the poor majority of the Filipino people are often the victims of state-perpetrated violence.”