[Statement] Lack of P-Noy’s explicit policy on human rights opens doors for violations on the ground – www.tfdp.net

In commemoration of the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) reiterates its call to President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to combat torture and other forms of human rights violations.

There is a need for P-Noy to explicitly declare that he is waging war against human rights violations in the same way that he promised to fight corruption during his campaign for presidency.  Situations on the ground demand a stricter and more serious order from the leadership to its personnel to give the highest respect for human rights.

P-Noy should consider that human rights violations are also rooted from poverty.  The eradication of human rights violations may even be more important than the fight against corruption.

Paradigm shift, as the authorities call it, must not remain a mere proclamation. It is a must that the military and the police discontinue their practice of torturing people.  It is imperative that P-Noy looks into this matter seriously with urgency.

The recent cases of harassment of human rights defenders in Bulacan and the cases of torture and illegal arrests in Central Luzon and Mindanao prove that the “paradigm shift” has still a long way to go.  The government must prove its sincerity and gain the people’s confidence.

After the legislation of Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, cases of torture still persist.  Worse, perpetrators still operate with impunity.

P-Noy’s lack of an explicit policy on human rights, against torture and human rights violations, in particular, may be considered as the weakest link.  This can be interpreted that P-Noy is either not in control or that human rights is not really part of his agenda.

On the occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, TFDP also reiterates its appeal for the release of all political prisoners.  TFDP has already communicated to the Office of the President the urgency of the case of Tatay Umbrero, a political prisoner who has stage four cancer.

TFDP implored for executive clemency since it is within P-Noy’s power to immediately act on the case of Tatay Umbrero.  But the government only responded by referring Umbrero’s case to the Board of Pardons and Parole.

It is hard to comprehend why Umbrero’s case would not deserve the urgent and immediate attention and action of P-Noy.  Is this not equally important as the issue of wangwang that merited inclusion in his previous State of the Nation Address?  Is human rights not included in P-Noy’s matuwid na daan?

The UNCAT recommends among others that the Philippine Government educate its members specially its security sectors about the right not to be tortured.  How can P-Noy raise awareness among his ranks when he seems to be busy only with issues that will hit the headlines?  Or could it be that it is P-Noy who needs human rights education?

Stop torture. Prosecute perpetrators.
Free Tatay Umbrero. Free all Political Prisoners.

June 24, 2011


One thought on “[Statement] Lack of P-Noy’s explicit policy on human rights opens doors for violations on the ground – www.tfdp.net

    By: John Lana

    Political prisoners all over the country from various political blocks has been calling the attention of President Noynoy Aquino for their freedom. In fact, during the 2nd Sona of Pnoy, alleged political offenders and political prisoners (APOs/PPs) are on hunger strike and appealing to the new administration for their immediate release. They are the new Ninoy Aquino, who fought side by side with the masses and whose only sin was to serve the greatest number of people for their greatest good. Can the son (Pres. Noynoy Aquino) grant freedom to his father (alleged political offenders and political prisoners)?

    Few days before Pres. Noynoy Aquino delivered his rhetorical speech in his second State of the Nation Address (Sona), another political prisoner died on stage four lung cancer without being granted release on humanitarian grounds by the Pnoy regime. Different human rights groups has been calling the attention of the new administration and followed by a written request to Sec. Teresita Qunitos-Deles of OPAPP, asking for the immediate release of Tatay Mariano Umbrero based on humanitarian consideration but the new regime of Pnoy seems to liken with the past administrations who were also naive, heartless and inhuman in treating political prisoners. Record shows that five political prisoners died due to severe sickness in New Bilibid Prison and one from BJMP Bicutan in the past and but what is very disgusting and irritating is the failure of the past and present administrations to address the very major question of all seasons and that is “why until now there are still many Ninoy Aquino languishing in jails?”

    Ninoy did not only fight against Marcos dictatorship but also against poverty and same true with all political prisoners in this country. If Ninoy would be living today, he would tell his son (Pres. Noynoy) what democracy means for Filipino masses and particularly for political prisoners. He would tell him to free political prisoners as what his mother did during Edsa 1.

    Why there are political prisoners? They only proves three major things: (1) the state is repressive and coercive and cannot tolerate non-align and opposing political and ideological beliefs (2) there must be something wrong with the socio-economic system and governance; and (3) change is inevitable. Along that lines we can say that it is the very system itself that gave birth to political prisoners and therefore, the burden to free must also be a state responsibility and accountability. In fact, not only APOs/PPs are its end result, many in our detention centers suffer a crime they didn’t actually commit and if there are some who really did it, it can be rooted in the very nature of the system itself that fails to address the very problem of society like poverty and injustices.

    Quoting from Negros Chronicle, retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno, one of the most outspoken magistrates of the high court , and pillar of human and civil rights, declared that poverty is the greatest terrorist not only in the Philippines but the entire civilized world as well.

    People , he said, who are driven by extreme poverty, and in need of immediate survival for himself and his family especially, the option to commit crime and get money for survival comes to play. Supreme Court Chief Justice Puno said:

    “If you come to the various dimensions of this problem of poverty, you will come to the conclusion that poverty is the cause of so many crimes, it is almost the mother of all causes of crimes in the world.

    “A country may enjoy the first generation of human and political rights , but if the people are suffering from poverty, all these civil and political rights are nothing to them.”

    “You may tell a poor man that he has the right and liberty to travel anytime anywhere in the world, but if he has no money, this right means nothing to him,” Puno said.

    “You cannot tell a poor man about his right to participate in our political process, of being able to vote and be voted upon because if he has no money to pay for a decent education, this political right means nothing to him,” Puno added.

    “The government and non-government sectors are doing everything to win this war against poverty. We cannot afford to lose this war against poverty because if we lose, then we lose everything, our liberty, our freedom and our future,” Justice Puno said.

    Many observers agree and that, it is for this reason that illegal drug trafficking and extrajudicial killings are rampant in poverty stricken areas. Negros Oriental is one of the most depressed poverty stricken areas in the country in terms of economic opportunities because of the nature of the volcanic terrain.

    People’s farms are now converted to residential areas since owners fear that CARP might take over their lands. Sugar mill owners said that they do not want to expand even modernize because owners are apprehensive what will happen to the industry under CARP take overs.

    Puno said, “what good is human and civil rights if the people are poor? How can they air their legitimate gripes against government if they do not have money to go to court, that is why the jails are overstocked with poor detainees awaiting trial.”

    Commenting on the bungled hostage taking, Justice Puno said that “everyone knows the crisis has been mis-handled however, he gives President Noy the benefit of reviewing the findings and that as President PNoy, he said, has the mandate to make a final decision on the outcome of the crisis.” Puno was here as main guest during the inauguration of the Suzuki World, the biggest Suzuki motorcycle service center so far opened by the company.



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