[Statement] Break through the Marcos impunity: Pass the Freedom of Information bill now -PAHRA

Break through the Marcos impunity:
Pass the Freedom of Information bill now

21 September 2013-41st Anniversary of the Imposition of Martial Law

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On September 21, 2011, the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) launched a joint endeavor to implement the first Principle of the United Nations Updated Principles in Combating Impunity – the Right to Truth.

The Updated Principles present two aspects of this right: the individual(s) right to know as well as the victim(s)’ families and relatives to know the circumstances and the reasons for the victim’s torture, enforced disappearance or extrajudicial killing. The other aspect is the collective aspect, wherein the nation should remember the tragedies that were consequent of the human rights violations. The obligation to preserve documents and other related evidences to the violations arise from the state’s duty. So is the obligation that public access is facilitated.

None of the documents subsequently turned over by the military would help add to the numbers of those who with “conclusive presumption” would be recognized and compensated as victims of human rights violations during the martial law period. The AFP documents have not even start to come close to the documentation done by the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) which was set up in 1974 by the Association of the Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP).

No additional information as of now may be seen as forthcoming from any initiative of the security forces. We may never know how many even how many have been arrested, tortured, subjected to extra-judicial execution and enforced disappearance. Much less would there be a naming of perpetrators of these serious human rights violations and bringing them to justice.

The September 21, 2011 joint endeavor is now proved to be no more than an empty gesture to obtain the right to truth to combat impunity.

It is the people who must initiate to surface the truth about the gross violations against human rights, not only of civil and political rights but also of the violations of the people’s economic, social and cultural rights, especially of the impoverished, the marginalized and the vulnerable. Even then, it is also imperative to bring to the open the violations done against our Muslim sisters and brothers during the repressive period of martial law.

Now, more than ever, with the expose of grand corruption of Napoles-ian scale, should all people of good-will determinedly work for the passage of the people’s initiative bill on the freedom of information.

Accountability must be obtained for both human rights violations and criminal activities.

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