[In the news] EDITORIAL – Ending impunity | The Philippine Star News Opinion

EDITORIAL – Ending impunity | The Philippine Star News Opinion.

Jovito Palparan has retired from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and no one has replaced him, in the eyes of activists and human rights advocates, as the face of the human rights violator. Yet the Aquino administration continues to be taken to task for the country’s human rights record.

The London-based rights watchdog Amnesty International cited 40 cases of extrajudicial killings since Benigno Aquino III assumed the presidency last year. The most notable case was that of botanist Leonard Co, who was killed, according to the military, when he was caught in the crossfire between government forces and the communist New People’s Army in Leyte.

A key concern of Amnesty International and other human rights advocates is the impunity that has arisen from the failure of the state to solve cases of human rights violations and bring the perpetrators to justice. That impunity had its worst manifestation in the massacre of 57 people, 32 of them media workers, in Maguindanao, in the country’s most atrocious case of political violence. The politicians accused of responsibility for the massacre clearly believed they could get away with the crime. While the mass murder was carried out two years ago under the previous administration, the case is dragging on in court, bolstering fears that litigation could take a hundred years.

Amnesty International lauded several initiatives undertaken by the Aquino administration to protect human rights, as it noted that most of the unsolved cases took place during the nine-year presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. AI counts 305 cases of extrajudicial killings and over 200 cases of enforced disappearances during the Arroyo administration that are still waiting to be solved.

Solution now lies at the hands of a new President, whose parents were human rights victims and icons of freedom. That legacy has created higher public expectations that Benigno Aquino III will end the culture of impunity that has guaranteed the continuation of human rights violations in this country.


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