[Statement] Mutual defense, mutual respect for human and people’s rights:Not partnership for impunity -PAHRA

Mutual defense, mutual respect for human and people’s rights:Not partnership for impunity

pahra logo copyBeing both State signatories to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR), the Philippines and the United States of America have the trinity of obligations to respect, protect and fulfill the human and people’s rights of its own constituencies but also the people of each other’s country. The UDHR, since December 10, 1948, has become a main feature of international customary law. Many of the aspirations of the UDHR have come from the Constitutions of both countries. These aspirations which later evolved into international human rights laws were meant to enhance also its own laws and policies governing relations with each other.

The signing of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) in Washington, D.C. on August 30, 1951 forged a “common determination to defend themselves against external attack” as well as a “collective defense for the preservation of peace and security pending the development of a more comprehensive system of regional security in the Pacific area”.

The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) is an implementing agreement of the MDT.

Certainly, the MDT and the VFA are also obliged to mutually implement the trinity of State obligations, not tolerate human rights violations, much less put up with impunity.

The MDT and the VFA are not meant:

To have a death before a medical mission. On July 2004, a 54 year old Moro woman was reported to have died of heart attack when two helicopters suddenly landed in their corn land in barangay Manarapan, Carmen, North Cotabato. The two helicopters were used by the American troops in the clearing operations before the medical mission could be conducted in the barangay.

To refuse cooperation and transparency, by Filipino and American authorities, in deaths like that of Gregan Cardeno, a contract worker from Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay hired by SkyLink Security Agency, who was reported to have committed suicide last February 23, 2010 inside a military camp in Camp Ranao, in Datu Saber town, the home of the 103rd Brigade of the Philippine Army. Indications led Gregan’s family to think that Gregan was sexually abused due to his enlarged scrotum, the enlarged opening of his anus and the injuries of his head. The Bulatlat report further said that an autopsy by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), upon the request of the Cardeno family, revealed puncture wounds on Gregan’s right foot, on the left inner part of the leg and on the upper right arm. These could be signs of serious ill- and inhuman treatment.

To include massacres as part of a “joint exercise” as in February 4, 2008, wherein eight civilians, including three women and two children were killed when forces from the Army’s Light Reaction and the Navy’s Special Warfare Group attacked barangay Ipil, Maimbung, Sulu. US troops were said to be involved in the massacre.

To violate the Filipinos’ economic, social and cultural rights by wandering without updated guidance and consequently destroyed last January 17, 2013 the protected Tubbataha marine sanctuary, declared by UNESCO as one of the World’s Heritage Site.

Lives and rights – one too many have been sacrificed with impunity by the MDT and the VFA.

PAHRA will join those who work for the abrogation of both the MDT and the VFA.
PAHRA shall also contribute in forging Defense Agreements from a rights-based and an International Humanitarian Law approach which strengthens especially command responsibility, accountability and upholding Philippine sovereignty.
February 12, 2013


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