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