Tag Archives: Impunity

[From the web] No Justice a Decade After Philippines Massacre -HRW

Duterte Administration Embraces Lawless Political Culture

By Carlos H. Conde
Researcher, Asia Division
Human Rights Watch
@condeHRW

Ten years ago, news of the Maguindanao Massacre in the southern Philippines shook the world. On November 23, 2009, a hundred gunmen hired by the powerful Ampatuan clan stopped a six-vehicle convoy and executed 58 people, including a political opponent’s family members and 32 journalists. A decade later, justice remains elusive as many suspects have not been brought to trial or remain at large.

Next month, a court in Manila is expected to announce its verdict in the case. Among those facing judgment are Andal Ampatuan and Zaldy Ampatuan, the sons of the late head of the Ampatuan clan, and dozens of other suspects. But the slow process to reach this point highlights the many problems in the Philippine justice system. Victims’ families remain indignant about the glacial proceedings but hopeful the judge will render justice in the case.

The 2009 massacre prompted calls to fix the Philippines’ political, criminal and judicial systems. While there have been efforts at judicial reform, legacies of dysfunction in the country remain alive and well. Political dynasties still rule, particularly in rural areas like Maguindanao. The police remain corrupt and inefficient, and President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration has done nothing to change that. Duterte’s long run as mayor of Mindanao’s Davao City was fueled by family and crony politics that enabled him to defeat political enemies and rule above the law. The Ampatuan’s bloody rule in Maguindanao benefitted from the same political culture that Duterte relied on.

The Maguindanao Massacre exposed the rot in that corrupt and violent political culture. Duterte campaigned and won the presidency in 2016 promising to eliminate not only illegal drugs but also to tackle common crime and corruption. His failed approach has been a murderous “war on drugs,” increased attacks on political and social activists, and a blind eye turned to corruption, all solidified by his government’s increasing authoritarianism. Convicting those responsible for the Maguindanao Massacre would serve as a wake-up call that justice is possible in the Philippines, and a human rights-abusing status quo is unacceptable.

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[Video] End Impunity Now! – Focus on the Global South / iDEFEND

End Impunity Now!

In Asia today, the list of the disappeared, murdered, assaulted, harassed, imprisoned, and tortured continues to grow. The cases here are just a few of what have been documented, and with these Focus and the Global South and iDefend Philippines would like to add to the voices calling for end to impunity.

[From the web] Philippine Police Probe Violent Protest Dispersal. Lack of Accountability Fuels Impunity -HRW

Philippine Police Probe Violent Protest Dispersal
Lack of Accountability Fuels Impunity
By Carlos H. Conde
Researcher, Asia Division
@condeHRW
October 21, 2016

200px-Hrw_logo.svgThe Philippine National Police have suspended nine officers involved in the violent dispersal of protesters – some of whom were bearing batons and throwing stones – demonstrating in support of President Rodrigo Duterte’s “independent foreign policy” in front of the United States Embassy in Manila on Wednesday. They include the driver of a police vehicle who, based on video and still images, drove through the center of the crowd, injuring at least 10 protesters, including women and elderly people. The police chief, Director-General Ronald dela Rosa, pledged to “swiftly and decisively” investigate the conduct of those officers. During the ensuing melee, pushing, shoving, and rock throwing by angry protesters injured at least 30 police officers. The police also arrested 26 protesters.

The images from outside the US Embassy on Wednesday were painful reminders of past police brutality, including the “Mendiola Massacre” in 1987, and the deadly dispersal of protesters in Kidapawan City in April 2016. A Human Rights Watch investigation in Kidapawan found that police used unnecessary lethal force when they fired into a crowd of protesters, killing two and injuring dozens of others.

The national police have long been responsible for serious human rights violations with officers frequently implicated in the excessive use of force and torture of criminal suspects. The police are spearheading President Duterte’s homicidal “war on drugs,” killing an estimated 1,645 suspected drug users and dealers between July 1 and October 15. That dwarfs the 68 killings of suspects police recorded during “anti-drug operations” between January 1 and June 15. Police have attributed the killings to suspects who “resisted arrest and shot at police officers” but dela Rosa has defied calls for an impartial investigation into those deaths.

Dela Rosa said today that images of the police violence on Wednesday “saddened and angered me. I saw people that got hurt. I really don’t want any Filipino getting hurt.” He can take meaningful measures to help prevent unlawful injuries or deaths by police by initiating thorough and impartial investigations of all such incidents and ensuring that officers implicated in such abuses face prosecution. Failure to do so will only guarantee that the culture of impunity for unlawful police violence continues.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/10/20/philippine-police-probe-violent-protest-dispersal

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[Appeal] Open Letter to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and All Duty-bearers

Open Letter to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and All Duty-bearers

The people has chosen you as the new primary duty-bearers of the State’s obligations to respect, protect and fulfill all human rights of all its constituencies who have been short-changed or failed by the past administrations since the uprising in EDSA against the dictatorship of President Ferdinand E. Marcos.  Headed by Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the national Chief Executive and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, together with the local executives and the national and local legislators, either newly elected or re-elected, are the duty bearers of human rights.

Everyone of you, chosen candidates, will have been sworn in as Duty-bearers by June 30, 2016 to uphold the Philippine Constitution.  Among others this solemn oath include provisions pertaining explicitly to human rights, such as Article II: The Declaration of Principles and State’s Policies, and Article III: The Bill of Rights.  Obligations to human rights became more explicit when the country signed and ratified international human rights treaties, among others, the United Nations International Bill of Rights (UN IBR) including the Second Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on Civil and Polictical Rights  (which abolishes the death penalty), the UN Convention Against Torture (UN CAT), UN Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (UN CEDAW), UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD),  UN Convention on International Humanitarian Law including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Though many of our human rights in the international HR treaties already have enabling laws, there are many others which are urgently needed, like the Zero Hunger Bill for the progressive realization of the right to adequate food and the People’s Freedom of Information Bill to enhance transparency and accountability in  a rights-based governance through the implementation of the right to information.

These obligations to human rights are integral to your positions as duty-bearers.  These obligations are neither optional nor subject to selectivity.  These obligations must always respect, protect and fulfill human rights according to international standards and to our national laws and to the needs of the people.  On these, the duty-bearers must finally base  their governance and development plans and programs. The obligations may be  daunting and difficult, but not impossible to realize.

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) and all other undersigned Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) thus express our collective willingness to converge with the efforts of Duty-bearers, including the Human Rights Offices and personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

As claimholders of human rights, we are, according to our capabilities, willing to work together at the national and local levels, in the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches of Government, to realize immediately and progressively the human rights of our people, especially the poor and most vulnerable among them.

Together with other human rights defenders, at different appropriate occasions, we will present our common working Human Rights Agenda to duty-bearers and claimholders alike.

At the same time, as we converge to promote human rights (civil, political, economic, social and cultural), we shall maintain and sustain vigilance and alertness against human rights violations, much more against impunity, against the same rights to avoid and to rectify the short-comings and mistakes of the past and to ensure non-recurrence.

Through documentation and monitoring, we will expose and condemn attempts and acts that encourage, condone, justify and even reward, perpetrators against human rights and the rule of law.

We will also stand firm against any attempt to turn tens of thousands of gross human rights violations during Martial Law of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, a fake World War II bemedalled soldier, into heroic deeds with a burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Extolling impunity is worse than just glossing over violations. Giving honors to impunity not only perpetuates but encourages further commission of violations.  On the other hand,, pursuing and obtaining justice against past violations builds a stronger foundation for the future of human rights in our country.

Finally, we will build formations of Human Rights Defenders at all levels of governance to promote and to defend human rights without compromise.

June 30, 2016

Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC)
Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)
Asian Federation Against Disappearance (AFAD)
Balaod Mindanaw
Balay Rehabilitation Center
Center for Migrants Advocacy (CMA)
Childrens Legal Research and Development
Claimants 1081
Focus on the Global South
Lanao Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (LAHRA)
Makabayan Pilipinas
Medical Action Group, Inc. (MAG)
Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement (MPPM)
Namess Heroes and Martyrs, Inc.
Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights)
Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance (PIFA)
Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas (Council of the Laity of the Philippines)
Sulong CARHRIHL
Sumpay Mindanao
Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan
Woman Health Philippines

Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Auxiliary Bishop of Manila
Ana Maria R. Nemenzo
Candy Diez
Carmen Lauzon-Gatmaitan
Atty. Cecilia Jimenez
Ellecer Carlos
Evelyn Serrano
Ging Cristobal
Marria Natividad Pescante
Atty. Milabel Cristobal
Niza Concepcion
Dr. Renato Mabunga
Rick Reyes
Rosemarie Trajano
Prof. Walden Bello
Violeta de Guzman

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[Statement] Dutertismo Should Address-Not Contribute to-the Climate of Impunity -FMA

Dutertismo Should Address-Not Contribute to-the Climate of Impunity
Preventing Rhetoric from Becoming Reality in Respecting Rights

FMAThough it is still two weeks before President-elect Rodrigo Duterte is formally proclaimed as the country’s next Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief, his electoral victory has been apparent early on, just a few days after the close of the May 9th polls.

His victory is unprecedented in many ways, and there will be another time to asses his landslide victory for its substance as well as symbolic value. But for now, it may be time to investigate his recent rhetoric and how it relates to how this hints of an emergent reality where human rights may be under threat.

It could be argued that any words and actions emanating from Mr. Duterte as presumptive President are not yet technically “official” statements. However given the nature of his eventual office, and the gravity of the themes being addressed, his words even now are – and should be – received as signals of what is to become. Using an IT-based metaphor, his past statements hint at a sort of “source code” for the “operating system” of his incoming Administration. Supporters of the President-elect assume just as much: “This is who Duterte is, and what you see is what you get.”

Many citizens of goodwill do assume that an initial public familiarization period with any new leader-especially one as unorthodox as him – deserves some time. Surely, some leeway for a “honeymoon period” is expected between the President-elect and the nation, even for skeptics or non-supporters who have always been uncomfortable with his alleged link to local death squads and summary executions in Davao.

But is it disturbing to hear some of Mr. Duterte’s words before and after the election, particularly even for those prepared to critically engage his incoming administration based on principle, insofar as they refer to and impact on human rights.   Among them:

His provocative statements and actions, as well as his disrespectful attitudes towards women, particularly (and shockingly) even against victims of gender violence [1];
His inciteful exhortations endorsing extra-judicial killings of suspected drug dealers and other criminals, and the setting up for rich bounties to entice citizens into this deadly endeavor [2];
His impatience with (non-Davao-based) media workers and his apparent lack of appreciation as to their role in democratic discourse, and most disturbingly his similar endorsement of the use of deadly force against journalists who were perceived to be “corrupt”, in a nation already considered one of the deadliest countries for journalist [3];

However he or his supporters try to minimize or massage the disturbing messages of this Dutertismo discourse, these statements are on public record and can be easily parsed as to their context and actual intent.  Even if the nation is still in a political “honeymoon period” with him, no partner in a marriage has to tolerate an attack on one’s rights and dignity, “honeymoon period” or not.

A number of Mr. Duterte’s progressive minded-supporters have requested for a broader mind in judging the President-elect, and practically appeal to the people to just disregard the rhetoric and just await the reality which they say will be much more benign. Maybe so. But while the politics of language under Mr. Duterte is still being decoded, we are informed by long experience in  how rhetoric does shape eventual reality, oftentimes in ways that are not benign.

On the rhetoric alone, there can be no denying that these proposed measures violate accepted standards of due process, effectively diminish the rule of law, and become a State-sponsored license to solve complex societal problems at the end of the barrel of a gun. The questionable pseudo-vigilantism being encouraged is precisely what birthed the infamous Davao Death Squads, a “solution” which effectively incites more violence and murder, and exacerbates the culture of impunity that has allowed extra-judicial killings to continue in our benighted country. For sure, these statements and any violence they incite are against universally recognized international human rights standards.

Some belittle Mr. Duterte’s words as mere expressions of braggadocio, or just humorous hyperbole, or the use of street lingo of the masses that shock only the elite. But how really does it play out in real life? Even now, media reports indicate a rise in reports of killings and deaths in shootouts of many “suspected criminals”, with speculation rife that the Dutertismo call to arms gas trickled down to local administrations and law enforcement (and another non-State armed elements?), emboldering those who hold local state coercive powers. With unfriendly media now in the crosshairs, will people therefore be less inclined  to level criticism at the new Administration?

Mr. Duterte’s attacks on media and others critical of him – even as they are ironically framed as an assertion of his own “freedom of expression” – on the contrary result in the suppression of this freedom, serving to foster a “chilling effect” on dissent and contrarian opinions, lest they be called out as expression of “stupidity” or “idiocy”, or worse, corruption-tainted hatchet job paid by enemies of his government and therefore worthy of violent reprisal.

The Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) therefore adds its voice to the few who, during this “honeymoon phase”, have sought to address these threats and counter any such chilling effects by issuing appropriate statements of concern and condemnation (such as various journalist organizations, women’s groups, and international free expression advocates) about the rhetoric which may construct reality.

In response to these contrarian voices, it is unfortunate that President-elect’s immediate reactions have been even more confrontational, strident, and even condescending and insulting.  Either as a part of a deliberate strategy, or merely an expression of the Mayor’s well-known candor and honesty, Mr. Duterte has managed to disrespect and even malign such venerable institutions such as the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the Catholic Church, and even the United Nations.

Lest these attacks be deemed justifiable due to acknowledged flaws within these institutions, we must point out how these attacks only serve to weaken the democratic ecosystem which exists in our country. We must remember that part of the institutional roles of such institutions – free media, independent churches, national human rights institutions, and apex intergovernmental bodies like the UN –  is precisely to prevent abuse of States and their instrumentalists.

Naming and shaming these organizations for perceived slights betrays a lack of appreciation of their institutional roles in a democracy,; vilifying them or their representatives in effect seeks to de-legitimize them in the eyes of the public. This ultimately will lead to a weakening of the democratic system of checks and balance that prevents over concentration of power by the State.

The President-elect recent warnings to Congress not to initiate any legislative inquiries on his anti-crime initiatives can also be considered as another frontal attack on an institutional pillar of democracy, which again serves to undermine the balance of power between and among co-equal branches of government. Is the President-elect above any democratic limits on Executive power?

Dutertismo came to power democratically on the will of vast numbers of Filipinos fed up with a perceived old and uncaring order, and traditional politician-based responses to age-old social exclusions. Hence we believe that President-elect Duterte has to be given a chance to make Dutertismo work in such a complex political, economic and social environment far from the more simple parameters of local governance. If this requires the President-elect utilizing a more frank, no-nonsense, and take-no-prisoners discourse that apparently resonates with a large section of the citizenry which has felt historically excluded, then so be it. It may eventually deserve our political support, if it delivers its promise of genuine change.

But when this discourse and political style crosses a line that serves to diminish the human rights which the Filipino people have fought for decades to defend, or impugns the legitimacy of democratic institutions tasked to defend these rights, or belittles the rights and freedoms of any Filipino, it is incumbent in all Filipinos to speak up.

On the question of human rights therefore, Dutertismo will be ultimately judged on whether it will address the culture of impunity that taints this country, or contribute to it. Even in this honeymoon period” – or at any time manifests itself actually – any violent rhetoric that negatively impacts on rights must immediately be responded to and countered, lest it evolve into political reality.

We urge the incoming President and his administration to refrain from inciting any more violence, and to discontinue any lines of attack on legitimate and democratic institutions, for what is at stake is beyond just his a vowed personal right to free expression. He – as de facto the most powerful person in the country now – must be circumspect based on his mandate to defend the very institutions that has allowed his rise to power.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionist, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew.
And then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.

Martin Niemöller
German anti-Nazi theologian and Lutheran pastor

Reference:

[1] Mariz Umali Case; 1986 Australian Rape Victim (Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill); Duterte on women’s rights complaint: Go to hell; Women’s rights groups file complaint vs. Duterte; PWD groups file complaint against Duterte

[2] Duterte and the Davao Death Squad;  5 dead in Philippines as Duterte-inspired street executions start;  The summary execution after the PH Election; Vigilante killings alarm CHR, church execs; Duterte warns cops involved in drug trade: I’ll kill you; Rodrigo Duterte: Shoot a drug dealer, get a medal; Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte: Public ‘can kill’ criminals

[3] Media corruption root cause of journalists’ killings;  Duterte, the Philippines’ #NoFilter president, is no joke for journalists; U.N. special rapporteurs condemn Duterte’s stand on assassination of Journalist

For inquiries, please contact FMA at: info AT fma dot ph
Attention: A. G. Alegre

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[From the web] Fast-Track Congress Probe on Rights Abuses Congressional Delays Symbolize Failure to Tackle Impunity -HRW

Philippines: Fast-Track Congress Probe on Rights Abuses
Congressional Delays Symbolize Failure to Tackle Impunity

(Manila, August 12, 2015) – The Philippine House of Representatives should fast-track its investigations of alleged human rights abuses by state security forces, Human Rights Watch said today. Congress is only now acting on the 22 resolutions that legislators have filed with its Committee on Human Rights since 2013 that call for investigation of specific allegations of human rights violations by the military and police.

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Congress is convening on August 13 and 14, 2015, an “initial omnibus legislative inquiry” into human rights abuses that is designed to jumpstart congressional attention to those resolutions. The inquiry, which will gather more information about the cases in each resolution by interviewing victims and witnesses, will take place on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao where many of the alleged human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and torture, have occurred.

The inquiry will result in a report detailing its findings and recommendations that it will then submit to Congress. It can recommend the filing of cases before the courts or the Office of the Ombudsman, which is empowered to pursue separate investigations and prosecutions of human rights-related cases. Congress must initiate these proceedings before it adjourns in June 2016 or it will have to refile the resolutions and start all over again.

“Years of apathy by the Philippine Congress toward human rights violations by security forces just makes it easier for perpetrators of abuses to literally get away with murder,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The House of Representatives can and should send a powerful message against impunity by making this week’s inquiry in Mindanao an opportunity to jumpstart long-overdue congressional scrutiny of serious human rights abuses.”

The majority of the 22 human rights abuse-related resolutions filed before Congress by various legislators since 2013 call for investigation of specific allegations of human rights violations by the military and police. Three privilege speeches were also delivered by different representatives, all calling for congressional investigation of these cases.

The outstanding congressional resolutions on alleged human rights abuses by elements of the security forces relate to cases that include killings on:

July 3, 2012, of Wilhemus Johannes Geertman, a Dutch missionary in Pampanga province;
August 26, 2013, of anti-mining activists Anting Freay and his 16-year-old son Victor in Davao del Sur;
December 6, 2013, of tribal leader Pedro Tinga in Compostela Valley province;
March 15, 2014, of Romeo Capalla, a former political prisoner and fair-trade activist in Panay province; and
March 26, 2014, of human rights defender William Bugatti in Ifugao province.

Separate congressional resolutions since 2013 have also called for the investigation into the torture of detainees at a police facility in Laguna, as well as the harassment of members of grassroots groups such as Pamalakaya, which represents small-scale fisherman known as “municipal fisherfolk.” Two other resolutions call for investigations into the enforced disappearance on August 21, 2013, of Bryan Epa, an organizer for Katribu, an indigenous peoples group, and Benjamin Villeno, a coordinator for the leftist political party Bayan Muna.

Legislators have also issued resolutions looking into alleged cases of children falsely accused by the military of being child soldiers. They also want to investigate the so-called Tagum Death Squad, which was allegedly financed and controlled by police and local government officials.

Calls for accountability by government officials have not brought an end to the extrajudicial killing of activists and journalists, torture, or enforced disappearances. Although the number of such cases has decreased since 2010, when President Benigno Aquino III took office, they still occur fairly frequently. President Aquino had made several commitments in the past to address these abuses, but his administration has to date produced few significant results.

A “superbody” that Aquino created in 2012 to resolve extrajudicial killings has not made significant progress, Human Rights Watch said. Torture by the police and other security forces remains routine and elements of the military continue to be implicated in serious abuses. Police have been linked to summary killings, particularly “death squad” operations carried out in complicity with local officials in Tagum City and other urban areas.

“Congress needs to demonstrate that it’s on the side of rule of law and the victims of human rights violations by supporting thorough and transparent investigations into such abuses,” Kine said. “Congress can show that it’s serious about tackling impunity by fast-tracking investigations into alleged human rights abuses and supporting the congressional inquiry in Davao City.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Philippines, please visit:
https://www.hrw.org/asia/philippines

https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/08/12/philippines-fast-track-congress-probe-rights-abuses

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[Press Release] Aquino Should Deliver on Rights Promises Final State of Nation Address Should Emphasize Reform -HRW

Philippines: Aquino Should Deliver on Rights Promises
Final State of Nation Address Should Emphasize Reform

(Manila, July 22, 2015) – Philippine President Benigno Aquino III should commit his administration to meaningful human rights reforms in his final State of the Nation Address on July 27, 2015, Human Rights Watch said today. Aquino’s address may be his last major public policy speech before his term ends after the next presidential election in May 2016. Under the Philippine constitution, presidents serve a single six-year term.

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Aquino won the 2010 election on a political platform that included explicit human rights commitments, including a promise to tackle the lack of accountability of the military and police. However, his five years as president have been marked more by rhetoric than concrete action to address serious human rights violations in the Philippines such as extrajudicial killings, torture, and enforced disappearances, Human Rights Watch said.

“President Aquino has an opportunity in his final State of the Nation Address to outline lasting measures to address the human rights problems too often ignored during his five years in office,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “This is Aquino’s best – and last – chance to demonstrate that his human rights commitments are not empty political rhetoric.”

In his inaugural speech on June 30, 2010, Aquino gave “marching orders” to the Department of Justice to “begin the process of providing true and complete justice for all.” Human rights violations during the term of his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, were rampant, with hundreds of activists and journalists killed, tortured, or abducted.

In December 2010, during the commemoration of International Human Rights Day, Aquino said that “the culture of silence, injustice and impunity that once reigned is now a thing of the past.” In his second State of the Nation Address in 2011, Aquino reiterated this commitment, saying, “We are aware that the attainment of true justice does not end in the filing of cases, but in the conviction of criminals.”

That rhetoric has led to some significant, if limited, results for improving human rights, Human Rights Watch said. The government has worked closely with the Justice Department and the Supreme Court to implement programs designed to improve the investigative capacity of the police, the prosecutorial competence of the Justice Department, and the capabilities of the courts to handle cases. The government has appointed more judges and prosecutors to address chronic court volume congestion. The government has also convened the Human Rights Victims Claims Board and tasked it with making reparations to victims of the Ferdinand Marcos regime from 1972 to 1986.

However, the impunity of the Philippine security forces that Aquino promised to eliminate persists, Human Rights Watch said. Killings of both leftist activists and journalists continue. A “superbody” that Aquino created in 2012 to resolve these killings has not made significant progress. Torture by members of the security forces remains routine. Elements of the military continue to be implicated in serious abuses, particularly in the countryside as part of its counterinsurgency operations. Police have been linked to summary killings, particularly “death squad” operations carried out in complicity with local officials such as in Tagum City and other urban areas.

Records released to Human Rights Watch in May 2015 by Task Force Usig, the main arm of the Philippine National Police for investigating and monitoring extrajudicial killings, show that the government has secured only one conviction out of the 130 cases of killings of activists it recorded since 2001. The domestic human rights group Karapatan recorded 262 extrajudicial killings from the time Aquino came to office in 2010.

Task Force Usig recorded 51 cases of journalist murders from 2001 to May 2015, 8 of which resulted in convictions.

In his State of the Nation Address, Aquino should make the following policy commitments to:

Direct the Philippine National Police and Task Force Usig to improve its investigation and documentation of cases of alleged extrajudicial killings, and submit a regular – preferably monthly – progress report on the status of these cases;
Direct the interagency body (the so-called superbody) created by Administration Order 35 and led by the Justice Department to expedite the inventory of the “priority cases” begun in 2012 and to make public the status of these cases, and require the “superbody” to provide monthly updates on the status of these priority cases and the reasons for any delay in initiating prosecutions;
Publicly disavow “death squads” in urban areas as a legitimate crime-control strategy and investigate and appropriately prosecute any government official involved in extrajudicial killings;
Issue a public order to all security forces rejecting the threat or use of force against political activists, unionists, and members of civil society groups for expressing their political views. In addition, reiterate to all forces the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan’s emphasis on international human rights and humanitarian law as one of its two “strategic imperatives”; and
Rescind executive order 546 signed in 2006 that allows local politicians to effectively form their own militias or private armies, such as that implicated in the Maguindanao Massacre in 2009.

“President Aquino’s record on human rights is five years of squandered opportunity,” Kine said. “Aquino should use his State of the Nation Address to demonstrate that that he will use his last year in office to focus on ending human rights abuses rather than turning a blind eye to them.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on the Philippines, please visit:
https://www.hrw.org/asia/philippines

http://www.hrw.org/news/2015/07/21/philippines-aquino-should-deliver-rights-promises

For Immediate Release

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[Press Release] End Police Torture, Killings! Aquino Should Act Decisively to Punish Perpetrators -HRW

Philippines: End Police Torture, Killings
Aquino Should Act Decisively to Punish Perpetrators

(Manila, January 31, 2015) – The Philippine government of President Benigno Aquino III should take decisive action against torture and extrajudicial killings by the police and other state security forces, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2015.

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The Aquino administration took some important steps in 2014 to improve rule of law, but the government’s overall record in addressing serious human rights violations remained poor. A November Justice Department report implicated police officers in the torture and ill-treatment – including near suffocation and stapling of nipples and genitals – of suspects following the September 2013 attack by Islamist militants on the southern city of Zamboanga.

“The Aquino administration needs to ensure that police responsible for serious abuses are thoroughly investigated and prosecuted,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Ending the culture of impunity for police torture should be a top priority for Aquino in his final two years in office.”

In the 656-page world report, its 25th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth urges governments to recognize that human rights offer an effective moral guide in turbulent times, and that violating rights can spark or aggravate serious security challenges. The short-term gains of undermining core values of freedom and non-discrimination are rarely worth the long-term price.

Positive measures by the administration included the creation of “justice zones” where criminal cases, warrants, and subpoenas are filed electronically as a means to accelerate court proceedings that have stranded thousands of suspects in prolonged pretrial detention. The government also achieved a success against impunity with its August 2014 arrest of retired army General Jovito Palparan, who is implicated in the alleged enforced disappearances of activists in 2006.

Progress in the justice system was overshadowed by failures to address other longstanding problems, Human Rights Watch said. Despite the passage of the Anti-Torture Act in 2009, the courts have yet to convict anyone of torturing suspects in custody.

Police officers and public officials have been involved in a “death squad” in Tagum City in the southern Philippines, as Human Rights Watch reported in May 2014. The death squad targeted suspected petty criminals, among them children, and also functioned as a guns-for-hire operation. To date the Philippines government has not yet prosecuted any government or police official implicated in the Tagum killings.

With less than two years left in his term, President Aquino continues to send mixed signals about his commitment to tackling longstanding human rights problems in the Philippines. While the number of cases of extrajudicial killings, torture, and enforced disappearances by state security forces have declined since the previous administration, their regular occurrence is no basis for complacency, Human Rights Watch said.

“The crucial missing ingredient in addressing the Philippines’ human rights problems is a lack of political will,” Kine said. “The Aquino administration needs to bring security force personnel implicated in rights violations to justice to send the message that official tolerance for such abuses is at an end.”

To read Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2015 chapter on the Philippines, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2015/country-chapters/philippines

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on the Philippines, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/asia/-philippines

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[Statement] Human Rights in the Aquino Administration: Failure of Leadership, No Direction, Impunity Perpetuated -PAHRA

Impunity Worsens Effects of Climate Change
International Human Rights Day
December 10, 2014

Vote for this article for the 5th HR Pinduteros’ Choice Awards

Photo by Sonny Resuena

Photo by Sonny Resuena

Human Rights in the Aquino Administration:
Failure of Leadership, No Direction, Impunity Perpetuated

Walang pamumuno ang administrasyong Aquino sa pagpapatupad ng karapatang pantao para sa malawak na bilang ng mamamayang Pilipino.

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Walang inilabas na National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP).  Walang itinakdang pangkalahatang balangkas at pambansang targets na dapat makamit sa kabuuang panahon ng pamamahala ni Presidente Benigno S. Aquino, III, bilang Chief Executive at Commander-in-Chief ng Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Bara-bara, kanya-kanyang planong pang-departamento at mapili ayon sa lakas-tulak ng mamamayan at tawag ng pulitika sa pagtataguyod na kalimitan ay di pinapansin ang karapatang pantao.  Nakakalungkot at nakaka-ngitngit ang pagpabaya sa ganitong kaayusan ng Commission on Human Rights (CHR), pangunahing institusyong binuo ng ating Saligang Batas noong 1986 na inaasahang taga-bantay at taga-subaybay sa pagpapatupad ng pamahalaan ng mga obligasyon nito na ipatupad ang mga karapatang pantao.

May nagawa, kung may nagawa ang pamahalaan, ngunit di masinsin at pursigido upang maibsan kung di man tuluyang matigil ang malaganap na kultura ng impunity o walang kalunasan na maasahan sa mga mabibigat at paglaganap ng paglabag sa karapantang pantao.

Impunity and Climate Change

Impunity lurks even amidst the typhoons and disasters.  It worsens also the effects of climate change.

An example of this is the Presidential visit in Manicani last November 2014. An event after a year of super typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda’s devastation in the country illustrates how impunity persists and overcasts the gains in the human rights arena.

Manicani, a site of mining explorations and operations since the late 1980’s, experienced destruction of their environment as well as their sources of food, water and means of subsistence and livelihood.  Affected people protested and resisted the mining onslaught.  No one has been held accountable.

Then came Yolanda.  Making its first landfall in Guiuan with its 47,000 population, destroyed most of the buildings, injured some 2,000 left, 100 persons dead and made the poor people, as well as their environment and their sources of subsistence, poorer. Poverty is not only made worse but also perpetuated and made more difficult if not impossible to escape.

Enter the present “non-operating” mining company in Manicani, Nickel Asia Corporation, to help build more than 400 houses.  And the President was “inspired” to mark this effort as the exemplar of “resilience”, according to UNDP Standards.  Nothing has been mentioned of the impunity of mining companies against people’s rights, especially their economic and social rights.  Impunity has been layered over.

Take another example – the Marcopper spill and continuing threat in Marinduque.

While on a different vein, there seems to be indifference and the lack of effective action of government since 1996 to prevent the “imminent danger” of the Maguila-guila dam from another toxic spill resulting from leftover wastes of the Marinduque Copper Mining Corp. (Marcopper).  The situation could be more devastating than what the people first experienced in 1996 points to an inconsistency in government’s present strategic planning to make the country ready for the consequences of climate change.  Marinduque, hit by Typhoon Hagupit or Ruby at 11am Monday, still have to assess whether the dam has been affected and what consequences occurred.  Any   accountability will mainly be that of government, specifically the present officials who has so far perpetuated impunity and reneged with their obligations to human and inter-generational rights, especially to 87,000 people of the towns of Boac and Mogpoc.

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), however, perceives that in Manicani and in Marinduque, the President and his administration has given the overall go-signal for nation-wide corporate-backed impunity against people and environment.

It exposes, as a whole, the inconsistencies in development plans and actualities on the ground.

Development Aggression Spearheaded by Impunity

While thousands of farmer-human rights defenders are still struggling against human rights violations and for their beneficiary status over more than half a million hectares covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), many have the added difficulties of contending with corporations’ legal and armed capabilities.  For example:

Armando Campos y Adlawan, an indigenous Manobo member of the NDC Estates Inc. Multi-Purpose Cooperative (NGEI MPC), allegedly killed on August 9, 2014 by personnel of the Filipinas Palm Oil Plantation, Inc. (FPPI), the biggest palm oil plantation in Mindanao, while struggling until this date  to reclaim their land in Agusan del Sur covered by CARP;

CARP Beneficiaries and Aetas claiming their Ancestral Land / Domain are fighting against FL Properties – now Terrafirma Holdings Inc., and LLL Holdings Inc., which may be part of the urban development planned by Ayala Land (ALI) which is investing P75B to develop Alviera, a 1,100-hectare mix-used community situated in Porac, Pampanga. The Aetas were once victim of Spanish and American land grabbers. Now, there vulnerabilities are exploited by present–day capitalists in the guise of being “developers” ‘ so as to annex with force the IPs ancestral lands/domain.

The acquiescence and/or collution of local government authorities and security forces in some instances are not isolated cases but precedents of contestations which could escalate into armed conflict if not determinedly resolved justly.  The cases in Agusan del Sur and in Tampacan, South Cotabato show that the incidents of impunity against civil-political rights in these areas are mainly off-shoot of impunity against the economic, social and cultural rights of people.

For decades, Human Rights Defenders have fought for similar rights. Many have sacrificed even their lives. Many are still in prison.

This pattern of impunity could continue and be multiplied if the government, with the President’s Emergency Powers to avert an unproved energy crisis, will build more coal plants (17 existing, 26 approved, 12 proposed, 71 coal mining permits) and release more carbon emissions that would destroy surrounding water systems and sources of subsistence, harm people’s health as well as exacerbate global warming and climate change.  Production of dirty energy from coal is only profitable to a handful of elite business people but will, in the long run, wreck havoc to the people and the planet. Resistance against violations and destructions, as well as struggles for a life with dignity and full human development will not be an option, but an imperative.

PAHRA calls on all defenders of human rights, both duty bearers and claimholders, to set up formations at all levels that will ensure that human rights are the preferred values in every branch of governance and in every development plan and implementation.

Protect Human Rights Defenders and  release imprisoned ones.

End political dynasties and advance participative democracy.

Pass the Freedom of Information Bill now for more informed citizenry.

Halt further building of and operating coal plants.  Increase projects of Renewable Energy.

Work for a binding international treaty that holds corporations accountable of human rights violations and abuses.
 
Make human rights be the framework of the 2014 Updated Philippine Development Plan.

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[From the web] Death of a Witness in the Philippines -HRW

Dispatches: Death of a Witness in the Philippines
Phelim Kine
November 19, 2014

Dennix Sakal will never get his day in court to testify against the alleged perpetrators of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre.

On Tuesday, unidentified gunmen killed Sakal, a key witness to the massacre, and wounded his companion and fellow witness Butch Saudagal in Maguindanao province’s capital of Shariff Aguak, as they were traveling to meet with prosecutors. Both men had been employees of the powerful Ampatuan family, whose patriarchs are chief suspects in the November 23, 2009 killings allegedly by the family’s “private army” that left 58 people dead.

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Five years after the victims’ bodies were found in mass graves off a highway near the town of Ampatuan, the massacre – and the still-rising death toll connected to it – remains a shameful exemplar of impunity in the Philippines. Those killed included the wife of opposition politician Esmael Mangudadatu, supporters and family members, and more than 30 media workers.

Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu attributed the attack on the two witnesses to unnamed Maguindanao massacre suspects “desperate enough to find ways to strike against those who will put them down.” But Sakal’s death also speaks volumes for the Philippine government’s inability or unwillingness to protect witnesses who are key to securing convictions of suspects – including local police and soldiers – implicated in the murders.

The case is in effective judicial limbo. A total of 87 suspects remain at large. Bail petitions and testimony challenges by the defense lawyers of the 110 suspects in custody have overwhelmed the court.

Dennix Sakal’s killing is a reminder to activists, journalists, and politicians of the vicious status quo in the Philippines in which gunmen with powerful backers routinely get away with murder. Despite the human rights rhetoric of the government of President Benigno Aquino III, individuals who challenge that status quo do so at their peril. As Aquino embarks on the final two years of his presidency, he should recognize that his failure to address the mounting death toll of the Maguindanao massacre could be the ultimate measure of his six years in office.

Source: http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/11/19/dispatches-death-witness-philippines

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[Campaign] Join us in urging the Philippine government to support the resolution filed in the UNHRC calling for a legally binding treaty on human rights and transnational corporations. #CorporateSelfish

corporateselfish copyFriends, let’s ask the Philippine government to “once again demonstrate leadership and commitment to human rights at the June 2014 UN Human Rights Council session by showing its support for a resolution that will seek to begin a process of developing an international treaty on business and human rights – the first binding international legal instrument to hold corporations accountable for their human rights abuses.”

We are Concerned about the continuing abuses and violations of human rights occurring all over the world which directly or indirectly engage the responsibility of business enterprises;

We are Concerned also that such abusive conduct often disproportionately impacts women, who comprise the majority of workers in the most vulnerable sectors, peasants, indigenous peoples, persons living in poverty, children among others, and especially concerned by the fact that justice is denied to those who suffer harm,

Considering the invaluable work done by human rights defenders and organisations, trade unions, indigenous rights and women rights defenders and others defending and protecting human rights in the face of corporate- related abuses,

Concerned at the incidence of attacks, harassment, restrictions, intimidation and reprisals against these human rights defenders,

But the Philippine Permanent Mission in Geneva is waiting for instructions from home base / DFA.

We need to call their attention. Join us in urging the Philippine government to support the resolution filed by a group of countries led by Ecuador in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) calling for a legally binding treaty on human rights and transnational corporations.

Show your support online by sharing this post and popularizing the hashtags #CorporateSelfish, #StopCorporateImpunity and offline on June 24 join us in a symbolic action at DFA to appeal for Philippine Government’s support for the proposed treaty.

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Click links to know more…

https://hronlineph.com/2014/05/15/statement-joint-statement-call-for-an-international-legally-binding-instrument-on-human-rights-transnational-corporations-and-other-business-enterprises/

http://alyansatigilmina.net/2014/05/30/government-support-for-binding-rules-for-tncs-sought/

[From the web] Dispatches: A Blow Against Impunity in the Philippines -HRW

Dispatches: A Blow Against Impunity in the Philippines
By Phelim Kine

The Philippines Congress took an important step on Wednesday against unlawful killings by local officials by calling for an urgent official probe into “death squad” killings exposed in a recent Human Rights Watch report.

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House Resolution No. 1222 directs the Congressional Committee on Human Rights to “conduct an immediate investigation, in aid of legislation, on the extrajudicial killings perpetrated by the Tagum Death Squad and allegedly created by local government officials in Tagum City, Davao Del Norte.” That resolution extensively references Human Rights Watch’s revelations of the existence, on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, of a death squad linked to hundreds of killings in the past decade. The death squad was organized, equipped, and financed by then Tagum City Mayor Rey “Chiong” Uy and elements of the local police and municipal government.

The congressional resolution is a welcome change from the willingness of successive Philippine governments to turn a blind eye to such brutality. First in nearby Davao City and then in other cities across the country, unidentified gunmen often “riding in tandem” on motorbikes have executed petty criminals, suspected drug dealers, and street children in the name of cleaning up the city of its “undesirables.” Mayor Uy used to refer to them as “weeds.” Yet despite the magnitude of the killings, the administration of Benigno Aquino III has never gotten serious about addressing the problem.

The congressmen who co-sponsored the resolution, Rep. Carlos Isagani T. Zarate and Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares, deserve praise for their willingness to challenge the official silence and denial regarding extrajudicial killings. But their stand against impunity demands long-overdue leadership on extrajudicial killings.

Aquino first should publicly denounce local anti-crime campaigns that promote or encourage unlawful use of force. He also needs to direct the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct an investigation into such killings in Tagum City – and elsewhere in the country. The Justice Department needs to ensure the safety of witnesses and relatives of victims to help ensure successful prosecutions in such cases. The Commission on Human Rights can raise public awareness by organizing public hearings on death squad killings in Tagum and elsewhere, and the alleged involvement of local officials.

The Philippines Congress has sent a much-needed signal that the country’s culture of impunity for extrajudicial killings needs to come to an end. Now it’s up to President Aquino to translate that signal into meaningful action.

Source: www.hrw.org

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[Campaign] 26 June campaign launch: Fighting Impunity -IRCT

26 June campaign launch: Fighting Impunity

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Everywhere and every day, crimes of torture are committed against men, women and children and, in most cases, no one is prosecuted or punished for them. These crimes are committed with impunity.

Fighting Impunity is the theme for the 26 June 2014 global campaign. Chosen by IRCT members around the world, the aim is to speak out about impunity, and to encourage support for survivors of torture so we can bring an end to the crimes of torture.

On 26 June each year the world unites to honour and support victims and survivors. The date – which has been marked by celebrations since 1998 – gives us the opportunity to stand united against torture while remembering the significance of the 26 June, when the United Nations Charter was signed in 1945.

Impunity is the failure of the state to fully investigate violations; to bring to justice and punish perpetrators; to provide victims with effective remedies; and to take all necessary steps to prevent a recurrence of the violation. This year’s theme is no doubt one applicable in many contexts.

So join us online and engage in your local community, to show your support for survivors of torture.

How to get involved

Read full article @worldwithouttorture.org

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[in the news] Int’l media groups demand justice for slain Cavite-based tabloid reporter -GMAnews.com

Int’l media groups demand justice for slain Cavite-based tabloid reporter
April 8, 2014 11:21am

Even as they lamented the continued impunity against media workers in the Philippines, international media groups on Monday demanded justice for a Cavite-based journalist who was gunned down in her house last Sunday.

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The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) scored the brutal killing of Rubylita Garcia, 52, who it noted is the first Filipino journalist to be killed in 2014.

“With impunity for journalist murders now a major priority for the United Nations, the Aquino government is guilty by its own inaction. In the global arena, it can no longer continue to foster this rampant abuse of human rights by its own failures to act,” it said.

Read full article @www.gmanetwork.com

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[Campaign] Join the online campaign to support the third International Day to End Impunity -CMFR

International Day to End Impunity posterJOIN THE ONLINE CAMPAIGN

Join the online campaign to support the third International Day to End Impunity (IDEI).

Twitter users can use the hashtags#endimpunityinPH,#IDEI and#Nov23.

Follow the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility on Facebook andTwitter for more information.

Visit CMFR for more @http://cmfr-phil.org/endimpunityinph/

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[Press Release] A Year of Pluses, Minuses on Rights. Decrease in Killings, But Impunity for Abusers -HRW

Philippines: A Year of Pluses, Minuses on Rights
Decrease in Killings, But Impunity for Abusers

200px-Hrw_logo.svg(Manila, February 1, 2013) – The Philippine government adopted landmark human rights legislation in 2012, but failed to make significant progress in holding the security forces accountable for serious abuses, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2013.

In its 665-page report, Human Rights Watch assessed progress on human rights during the past year in more than 90 countries, including an analysis of the aftermath of the Arab Spring.

In the Philippines, Human Rights Watch spotlighted the disturbing trend of increased threats and attacks on environmental and anti-mining activists by alleged members of the security forces.

“The overall human rights situation in the Philippines improved in 2012 with fewer extrajudicial killings and the passage of historic laws promoting rights,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “But the government has failed to address impunity for the most serious abuses. On prosecuting rights abusers, it needs to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.”

In late 2012 the Philippine Congress passed, and President Benigno S. Aquino III signed, a landmark law that makes it mandatory for the government to provide reproductive health services. They also enacted a law that criminalizes enforced disappearances, the first such law in Asia, and one that could end the scourge of such abductions that have destroyed countless lives. On January 18, 2013, Aquino signed a law instituting policies for the protection and welfare of domestic workers. Other bills promoting human rights are pending in Congress, with at least one other, a bill compensating victims of abuses during the martial law period in the 1970s and 1980s, awaiting Aquino’s signature.

However, Congress also passed the Cybercrime Prevention Act in September, which, if enforced, could severely undermine freedom of expression and the Philippines’ status as a regional leader in internet freedom. The law allows for stiff criminal sentences for broadly defined online defamation. Aquino signed the law into force, but the Philippine Supreme Court suspended its enforcement in October, after a public outcry led by free-expression groups and bloggers.

“The Philippine Congress has shown the capacity to craft laws that promote and protect human rights,” Adams said. “But it also passed a poorly thought out cybercrime law that could prove disastrous for internet freedom. The challenge now is for the government to implement these good laws in an effective manner while working to immediately overturn the cybercrime law.”

In the past year, the Aquino administration said it would “actively engage international bodies in seeking ways to improve the criminal justice system,” and promised to expedite human rights investigations and improve the justice system.

No progress on accountability for extrajudicial killings, disappearances
Little progress was made in successfully prosecuting cases of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and torture, Human Rights Watch said. Since 2001, hundreds of leftist activists, journalists, rights defenders, and clergy have been killed by alleged members of the security forces. Local human rights organizations reported approximately 114 cases of extrajudicial killings since Aquino came to office, though the number dropped sharply with just 13 reported in 2012.

Environmental activists appeared to bear the brunt of threats and attacks during the year, Human Rights Watch said.

On July 2, Aquino signed an executive order that aims to institutionalize reforms in the Philippine mining sector, but it is silent on the issue of rights abuses arising from mining investments, and on the deployment of paramilitaries at the mines. Aquino defended an earlier directive to allow the use of paramilitary forces to augment the military in its campaign against insurgents, and to secure the operations of mining companies. Members of these forces have been implicated in serious human rights abuses.

The communist New People’s Army and Islamist armed groups in the south continued to commit serious human rights abuses and violations of the laws of war, Human Rights Watch said.

Despite strong evidence that military personnel have been involved, investigations have stalled. Not a single case of extrajudicial killing by the security forces resulted in a conviction in 2012, and no such conviction has been reported since Aquino became president in 2010, Human Rights Watch said.

In 2012, Aquino did not keep his election promise to revoke Executive Order 546, which local officials cite to justify the provision of arms to their personal security forces. These “private armies” are responsible for much of the violence that has become common in the Philippines during elections. Although the government said it has disbanded 28 of these “private armies,” nearly 100 still exist, according to the Interior Department.

“If 2012 was the year for new laws promoting human rights, then 2013 should be the year for effective action,” Adams said.

To read Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2013 chapter on the Philippines, please visit:

www.hrw.org/world-report/2013/country-chapters/world-report-2013-philippines

To read a Tagalog version of the Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2013 chapter on the Philippines, please visit:

http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2013/country-chapters/112604

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on the Philippines, please visit:

http://www.hrw.org/asia/-philippines

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[Featured Video] Speak up against impunity -NUJP

SPEAK UP AGAINST IMPUNITY
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines

nujp-logoJanuary 23 marks the 39th month since the Ampatuan Massacre. Since 1986, 154 journalists, including 32 of the 58 victims in the brutal murder, have been killed in the line of duty.

The insatiable lust for power by some, a wanton disregard for rights, and the weakness of institutions that are supposed to protect us from injustice have allowed Ampatuan Massacre and other murders to happen. That is how impunity works.

From today until the 23rd and even beyond, feel free to post and share this video. Say a thing or two against impunity.

Stand up for press freedom. Stand against impunity. (Public service ad created by BBDO)

Watch video @ https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151244100324141

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[Event] Forum on Fighting Corporate Power and Impunity of TNCs -NAGKAISA

We are inviting social movement activists to participate in the following NAGKAISA-sponsored events in during the 5th World Social Forum on Migration:

1. Forum on Fighting Corporate Power and Impunity of TNCs, 26 November 2012, 1-6 PM, SDC Conference Hall, Ateneo de Manila University. The forum is part of the global campaign for a binding treaty that would make TNCs accountable for violating workers’ and people’s rights with impunity. You can find more information about the campaign in http://www.stopcorporateimpunity.org.

2. Asian Social Movements’ Assembly, 28 November 2012, 9AM-6PM, SDC Conference Hall, Ateneo de Manila University. This is the 4th open meeting of various Asian social movements aimed at building solidarity and coordination of actions that would address economic and climate crises and fight for systemic changes.

To register, please email your name and organization to josua@apl.org.ph or send an SMS to 0917 794-2431.

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[Photo Blog] Penoy ang napala ng mga Pinoy kay P-Noy by Life in a Box

Penoy ang napala ng mga Pinoy kay P-Noy
by Life in a Box

Photo by Rommel Yamzon

Napakasarap naman talaga ng penoy tulad ng balot. Walang kadudaduda na ito’y masustansya dahil mayaman sa protina at paborito ng masa. Subali’t tulad ng itlog, ang penoy ay isa ring simbolo ng kasalatan sa maraming kahulugan. Kaya’t kung penoy ang napala ng mga Pinoy kay P-Noy, Penoy din ang grado mo sa amin.

See more photos @ rommelyamzon.blogspot.com

[Statement] Where is the road that ends impunity? -PAHRA

“Ang mali – gaano katagal man ito nanatili – ay mali pa rin.
Hindi puwedeng “Oks lang, wala lang iyan.”
Kapag kinalimutan natin ang mga ito,
mangyayari lang ulit ang mga kamalian ng nakaraan.
Kung hindi magbabayad ang mga nagkasala,
parang tayo na rin mismo ang nag-imbita
sa mga nagbabalak gumawa ng masama na umulit muli.”

President Benigno Aquino III. SONA July 2011

WHERE IS THE ROAD THAT ENDS IMPUNITY?

President Benigno Aquino III, in his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) popularly well defined impunity. That which is wrong, no matter how long it remains, is still wrong. No way can anyone say after sometime that: “It already is OK. Let bygone’s be bygone’s.”

Victims of human rights violations and their families took heart at Mr. Aquino’s statement taken it to mean that he was setting a course to break from the past culture of impunity and embark on building a course that ensures the primacy of human rights and the rule of law. It meant a road built on truth, justice, as well as guaranteeing reparation and compensation for victims. It was also expected to include institutional reforms to make sure of non-recurrence of similar violations.

And yet, as gleaned in the following sample cases, impunity persists.

The families of six workers from Trento, Agusan del Sur, still await the fate of their members since the latter were abducted last October 14, 2000. A soldier witness testified to their being beaten to death by lead pipes, later buried and bodies burnt. This was a case personally presented to Mr. Aquino early in his Presidency which has no resolution till now.

In Dona Remedios Trinindad, Bulacan, Nicanor Mariano, a charcoal maker, was killed while sleeping with some family members in a hut during a military operation on July 19, 2011. Nicanor and his wounded son, Norman, were later labelled as NPA members. No justice has been obtained by the family till now.

In the same Central Luzon province, the Manalo brothers identified then General Jovito Palaparan, Jr. during their 18-month custody with the military since 14 February 2006 as the command responsible for their abduction and torture until their escape. Palparan is presently being sought for being responsible for the kidnapping and illegal detention of U.P. students, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno. The students are nowhere to be found till now. Palparan’s whereabouts are also unknown till now.

Human rights violations may well recur again and again as, for the third year, there is no National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP) that would guide this administration’s obligation of conduct and of result in ending impunity. The Chief Executive has command responsibility here.

The truth of human rights violations is blocked. People are deprived of the freedom of information. Impunity, not only against civil and political rights, but also against economic, social and cultural rights would be further entrenched.

Legislators are an integral force in ending impunity by passing laws, such as the one against enforced disappearance, as well as the passage for the compensation for victims of human rights violations during Martial Law. Both chambers of Congress must therefore strengthen our Commission on Human Rights (CHR) by fast-tracking the passage of its new Charter. The Senate, on the other hand, should already ratify the U.N. Convention against enforced disappearance.

Local authorities should resolve the impunity of juvenile crime not by lowering the age of criminality but exercising extraordinary due diligence in implementing the law on juvenile justice.

PAHRA calls on all human rights defenders to resolutely breakthrough impunity by making human rights our preferred values in governance, development and peace.

PAHRA demands from the Aquino government its obligation a plan to end impunity.
TULDUKAN NA ANG IMPUNITY!- END IMPUNITY!

Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
July 23, 2012

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