Tag Archives: Impunity

[Statement] FIDH and PAHRA, welcome the resolution adopted by the European Parliament on cases of impunity in the Philippines

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organization, the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), welcome the resolution adopted by the European Parliament on 14 June 2012 on cases of impunity in the Philippines.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organization, the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), welcome the resolution adopted by the European Parliament on 14 June 2012 on cases of impunity in the Philippines. FIDH and PAHRA are disappointed that despite numerous calls by the international community and civil society in the country, serious human rights violations continue to be documented and impunity for these violations persist at various levels in a context of ineffective measures to tackle it.

The resolution takes note of the decrease in the number of reported instances of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, but indicates that “the government’s ability to effectively combat the widespread impunity of the perpetrators of such acts and tackle the politically motivated violence in the country remains insufficient.” The resolution goes on to express “serious concern over judicial independence and slow convictions for human rights violations in the country.”

In his first State of the Nation Address in 2010, President Benigno Aquino III said “We are aware that the attainment of true justice does not end in the filing of cases, but in the conviction of criminals.” However, not only do extrajudicial killings or enforced disappearances continue to occur since President Aquino took office, but no one has been convicted of these violations under his administration.

The resolution highlighted the Ampatuan massacre in November 2009 as an egregious example of extrajudicial killings and the difficulty in bringing perpetrators to justice, as the trial drags on while witnesses and their relatives have been subjected to intimidation, bribery and even assassination. While this case drew significant international attention, many other cases of political killings go under-reported. Many of these cases also implicate members of state security forces or private militias. Impunity for these violations is compounded by the failure of the authorities to hold senior officers accountable in accordance with the principle of command responsibility, which perpetuates a culture of impunity among the armed forces and the national police, as well as private militias.

Human rights education has been conducted among the security forces in all their institutions. However, if such education is not internalized and if there lacks effective accountability mechanisms, judicial or otherwise, there is unlikely to be a paradigm shift towards a human rights culture but may only serve as a veneer to impunity, said FIDH and PAHRA.

“ Donors have supported programmes to build up mechanisms capable of ensuring access to justice, but there is an urgent need to institutionalize and to operationalize key domestic protection mechanisms, including the judiciary, the Commission on Human Rights as well as the multi-stakeholder National Monitoring Mechanism (NMM) being formed through the European Union-Philippines Justice Support Programme (EPJUST) ,” said Max de Mesa, Chairperson of PAHRA. “ Nonetheless, without political will to end impunity, these mechanisms will be disjointed from the initiatives of civil society, as well as prove insufficient and ineffective to protect rights and obtain justice ,” Mr. de Mesa added.

The resolution, however, does not mention the case of retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, Jr, who was the commanding officer of the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army in Central Luzon between 2005 and 2009, during which the region saw a spike in extrajudicial killings, most of which remain unresolved. In December 2011, the Justice Department of the Philippines filed charges of kidnapping and illegal detention against Palparan and three other military officers for the enforced disappearance of two activists in 2006. To date, Palparan is still at large and reportedly under the protection of military personnel and other private actors close to him.

Since their joint report of 2008, Terrorism and Human Rights in the Philippines: Fighting Terror or Terrorizing, FIDH and PAHRA have called on the Government to stop using civilian auxiliaries of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) or private armed groups which have been implicated in a range of serious abuses in total impunity. This recommendation has not been implemented. During the Philippines’ second Universal Periodic Review in May 2012, a number of countries, including Canada, the Netherlands and Spain, recommended the Government to rescind Executive Order 546 that provides a legal basis for private militias to take part in anti-insurgency operations. The Government is currently considering these recommendations and will respond by September 2012.

“ The Philippine authorities should not confuse a decrease in extrajudicial killings or enforced disappearances with the absence of impunity. Victims have a right to truth, justice, accountability and guarantee that these violations will not occur again, and the Government would contribute to the protection of this right by taking effective actions to pursue perpetrators, dismantle private armies, and ratify the enforced disappearance convention to be followed by alignment of domestic laws and their effective enforcement ,” said Ms. Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH president.


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[Press Release] Human Rights Report of the Philippines to the UN lacks measurable results -Action Network Human Rights-Philippines

Human Rights Report of the Philippines to the UN lacks measurable results

On 29 May 2012, the Philippines will be reviewed as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) before the UN Human Rights Council on the implementation of its human rights obligations.

The Philippine government receives in advance the opportunity to explain in a government report, what measures it has taken to improve the human rights situation in the country and to fulfill its international human rights obligations.

“The recently submitted report lacks the transparent and objective evaluation of concrete and measurable steps taken by the Philippine government to improve the human rights record in the country in a sustainable manner” says Maike Grabowski, coordinator of the German-based Action Network Human Rights-Philippines (“Aktionsbündnis Menschenrechte-Philippinen” – AMP).

As an example, the Philippines government points to the establishment of human rights offices within the military and its decades-long integration of human rights education in training institutions as indicators of improving the human rights situation. However, the government and the military have not truthfully evaluated such steps in the face of increased human rights violations, particularly politically motivated killings and enforced disappearances in the same periods.

In fact, civil society observed weak implementation of command responsibility that led to the impunity of the above mentioned violations.
Further, the Philippine report states that the government cooperates closely with national civil society organizations. Many of our civil society partners in the Philippines do not accept this vague generalized term of engagement with government,” criticizes Grabowski.

The national human rights organization, Philippine Alliance for Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) has pointed out, for instance, that consultations with civil society prior to the drafting of the National Report and the National Action Plan for Human Rights were wanting in planning, thoroughness in discussions and formulations of unities and differences in views.

“The institutional and legislative progress mentioned in the National Report is to be welcomed, however, the real benchmark for the improvement of the human rights situation and the sincerity of the current government must be the professional investigation of human rights violations with due diligence and the indictment and conviction of the perpetrators and their string pullers staying in the back,” demands Michael Schirmer, chair of the German human rights alliance on the Philippines. Impunity is still one of the main reasons for continued human rights abuses in the Philippines.

The eight member organizations of the AMP are therefore calling on Member States of the United Nations to analyze the national report of the Philippines critically and ask the Philippine delegation during the interactive dialogue of the UPR to set concrete and measurable steps to enable an effective impact assessment of the Philippine human rights policy. This is the only way for the Philippine government to prove its proclaimed change in policy on the issue of human rights.

For more information on the UPR, as well as potential questions and recommendations to the Philippine government please contact:
Maike Grabowski, Action Network Human Rights-Philippines
grabowski@asienhaus.de, +49201-8303828
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Action Network Human Rights-Philippines
Press Release

May 16, 2012

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[Announcement] CSO-People’s Intervention and Monitoring Mechanisms (CPIMM)


The CSO-People’s Intervention and Monitoring Mechanism (CPIMM) is a broad configuration of individual human rights defenders (HRD) and collective HRD’s in formations coming from all sectors of the civil society. These individuals and formations come from all territorial levels — community, municipal, provincial, regional and national where the HRDs and CSOs shall document and report HRViolations as well as coordinate with other formations for a systematic response and advocacy on the cases. The CPIMM also monitors government compliance of its obligations, particularly that of obligation of conduct and of result.


  • Facilitate an effective and efficient institutionalized and well-coordinated monitoring of violations
  • Develop a comprehensive updated statistics in a centralized repository readily available for all
  • Come up with analyses of processes and factors contributing to the violations and impunity
  • Facilitate/directly provide systematic and programmatic quick reaction response including documentation, legal services, sanctuary, relief/immediate and rehabilitation/long term interventions
  • Pro-active and coordinated local, national and international campaigns towards the prevention of and breaking impunity

The Secretariat of CPIMM is the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) and the Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PHILRIGHTS). HOTLINE MOBILE NUMBER is 0928-713-1519 for text messages and calls. The form below can be used by HRDs for reporting of incidences of human rights violations whether civil, political, economic, cultural and social in nature.


[Featured image] End IMPUNITY Now! by AGAW TRIP KOMIKS

pagsasa-komiks ng mga eksenang agaw trip

Source: agawtripkomiks.tumblr.com


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[Statement] Struggle for a larger freedom of information -PAHRA


February 10, 2012

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) welcomes the initial gains of a convergent struggle towards a larger freedom of information.

PAHRA acknowledges the advances made so far in the proposed bill by the staunch supporters in the legislative branch, the contribution of and vital endorsement by President Benigno Aquino III as head of the executive branch as well as the unflagging campaign of civil society through the Coalition for Freedom of Information, Right Now!

We commend the concrete provisions that expand access to information, e.g. those pertaining to the submission of the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs), to effectively prevent and prosecute graft and corruption among government officials as these adversely impact on the economic, social and cultural rights of people.

Nonetheless, full enjoyment of the right to information is still primarily a State obligation which the people must continuously demand and determinedly struggle for.

Soon, the Filipino people will be commemorating again the toppling of the Marcos Dictatorship which violated our fundamental freedoms and grossly violated our human rights with impunity. More than three decades have passed, government and military information on the thousands of victims of extrajudicial killings, massacres, enforced disappearances, torture and other gross human rights violations involving economic, social and cultural rights have been suppressed. Relatives still do not know what really happened to their loved ones and who are the perpetrators of these violations and crimes.

The officially turned-over martial law documents by the Intelligence Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), in their present pace and diligence, while a welcome initiative, has still a long way to go to bring closure, much more to obtain justice for the victims and families of human rights violations. The President, as Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief of the AFP, should order a fast, time-bound handing over of the rest of the identified 20, 000 files to the CHR.

Right to information is integral to combating impunity. The UN Updated Principles in Combating Impunity includes the right to truth. There are two aspects of this right: the first is the individual’s, as well as, the victim’s families and relatives right to know the circumstances and reasons for the victim’s torture, enforced disappearance or extrajudicial killing. The second 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.

Thus, the proposed “Freedom of Information Act of 2012” must contain the provisions that records of official investigations of alleged gross human rights violations, particularly extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture, must be preserved. Also, information of these same human rights violations should never ever be classified as exemptions to deny public access as are crimes and wrongdoings, graft or corruption. The excuse of “national security” should not be used to protect under its umbrage the perpetrators of human rights violations.

PAHRA calls on all those who fight for fundamental freedoms and human rights to lobby and obtain a law that advances towards a larger freedom of information.

PAHRA unites with all who struggles for the right to truth to combat and end graft, corruption and impunity.


[in the news] Art exhibit at Sining Kamalig seeks end to impunity -GMA News

Art exhibit at Sining Kamalig seeks end to impunity
February 4, 2012

The End Impunity Alliance presents “IMPRINT: Images of Impunity,” an art exhibit that seeks to give visual flesh to the state of impunity in the country. Exhibit opening is on 9 February 2012, 6:00 PM at the Sining Kamalig Art Gallery on Level 4, Gateway Mall, Araneta Center Cubao, Quezon City

Part of the proceeds of the artworks for sale will go to the campaign and legal fund of the Cadapan-Empeño case. Some artworks are for exhibition only.

The End Impunity Alliance is a network of human rights defenders, victims of rights violations and their kin, lawyers, artists, professionals and civil libertarians.

Read full article @ www.gmanetwork.com

[From the web] Resolution Of Media Killings, Palparan Arrest, And GMA Conviction For HR Cases Will Help Aquino Redeem Human Rights Record – Gabriela

Resolution Of Media Killings, Palparan Arrest, And GMA Conviction For HR Cases Will Help Aquino Redeem Human Rights Record

 “It is the absence of action and political will in concretely addressing human rights violations that make the Aquino government just as accountable. Until such time that known human rights violators are arrested, cases are resolved and counter-insurgency operations are overturned, the Aquino government, just like its predecessor, will remain in the international human rights gallery of shame.”

This is according to Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Luz Ilagan as she called on President Aquino to decisively lead a campaign to end impunity, killings and human rights violations in the country. This, after international human rights groups slammed the Aquino government for its failure in ending impunity for human rights abuses.

Read full article @ www.gabrielawomensparty.net

[In the news] Aquino vows to end impunity – InterAksyon.com

Aquino vows to end impunity
by Chichi Conde, InterAksyon.com
January 13, 2012

 MANILA, Philippines — President Benigno Aquino III has vowed to step up efforts in running after those “who seek to perpetuate the culture of impunity” in the country during the New Year‘s vin d’ honneur at the Palace on Friday.

Aquino said his administration will “not relent” in its accountability efforts as he raised a toast to “stability and prosperity” during the event which was attended by members of the diplomatic community, lawmakers from both the majority and minority, the top brass of the military and the police, and several industry captains.

“I am confident that so long as we stand together and remain consistent in our services to the public, our countrymen will be behind us every step of the way,” Aquino said.

Read full article @ www.interaksyon.com

[Isyung HR] It’s funnier for Mokongs in the Philippines

It’s funnier for Mokongs in the Philippines

The Mokong Perspective

 On the positive side, after the DOT released their “It’s more fun in the Philippines” campaign, It has effectively moved a good number of our netizens into action.  My fb friends on one side started having fun in participating by posting their contribution to promote the campaign.  On one side, others are having fun posting critical and sarcastic versions using the campaign in expressing their discontent.

We can’t deny, the campaign reached its objective on utilizing the online for its popularization, the fun way. It has effectively stirred debates and discussion. In its early stage it has and is serving its purpose satisfactorily.

It is too effective that we can’t also help but give our Mokong version. Kahit anong pigil nanggigigil ang aking mga mokong na daliri na pumindot at sumali.

Mokong Perspective welcomes “It’s more fun in the Philippines” campaign DOT effort.  Ngunit, subalit, datapwat mainam, while DOT may have done a good job on the aspects of boosting the promotion the Philippine tourism industry,  which is too early to judge, we can’t help but worry that just like other tourism campaigns, our government tend to ignore and cover –up the realities that are making it not too fun in the Philippines.

For mokong purposes, it will be more fun in the Philippines, if…

PNoy will start the year with a clear human rights action plan. It will be more fun if there will be resolutions for human rights violations cases, It’s really great fun breaking impunity.  It’s definitely fun to have a clear policy against mining. It’s fun to stop contractualization.  It’s fun in the Philippines if killings of journalists and human rights defenders will stop. It’s fun to have the FOI bill enacted, and many more…

The government must look into these issues or mokongs will have to post a counter proposal changing it into “It’s funnier in the Philippines!”


IMPUNITY, It’s funnier in the Philippines!

Human Rights violators were getting awards instead of punishment.  In some cases they are now good in invoking their rights and fear for their lives.

Where rebels and activists were charged of common crimes and perpetrators of massacre charged of rebellion.

GREED, It’s funnier in the Philippines!

Large scale mining companies, illegal loggers and business tycoons washed their hands from disasters and contractualizations and blamed it to Filipinos. So it’s more fun to mine Philippines.

Government agencies like the MGB and DOLE became spokespersons for businesses.

Thousands of workers not heard.

Salaries are lower, unions are busted.

DEMOCRACY, It’s funnier in the Philippines!

There are more than 300 political prisoners languishing in jails.

Corrupt politicians get elected.

JUSTICE SYSTEM, It’s funnier in the Philippines!

Thousands waited in detention for years for verdict on crimes charged to them.  Government claims that our detention facilities are not ready for international scrutiny.

Where foreigners charged of rape and other crimes, the powerful and rich were exempted from suffering congestion and harsh conditions of jails.

ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE, It’s funnier in the Philippines!

For a nation known for its victory against dictatorship and tyranny, for more than a decade now, our policy makers failed to enact an anti-enforced disappearance law.

TORTURE, It’s funnier in the Philippines!

Suspected perpetrators of torture were transferred and given new assignments somewhere else while victims seemed being punished for getting the burden of proof on their shoulders.

A policeman charged of torture was allowed to teach in a police academy.


These are just few among the so many possible reasons why we can definitely attract tourist and boost foreign investments.  It’s funnier here.

If you don’t find this article funny, that’s the point.

[In the news] EDITORIAL – Again, impunity – PhilStar.com

EDITORIAL – Again, impunity
The Philippine Star
January 07, 2012

 In the first week of the year, with the Christmas season not even officially over, another journalist has been murdered. Christopher Guarin, publisher of a community newspaper and a “block-timer” on radio station dxMD in General Santos City, was ambushed while driving home with his wife and nine-year-old daughter late Thursday night. Two men on a motorcycle opened fire and continued shooting as Guarin got out of his car and tried to run. He died of five gunshot wounds.

Police are still trying to determine if the murder was related to Guarin’s work in mass media. He is the first journalist to be killed this year and the 10th since President Aquino assumed power. More attacks are likely to follow unless perpetrators are brought to justice. Scores of journalists have been murdered in the Philippines since the restoration of democracy in 1986, making the country one of the most dangerous in the world for media workers. The poor record in solving the murders has made the country rank third, after Iraq and Somalia, on a so-called Impunity Index drawn up by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Read full article @ www.philstar.com

[People] Seeking Justice, End To Impunity by Fr. Shay Cullen

Seeking Justice, End To Impunity
(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Manila Times,
in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)

As 13 year-old Angelica walked out of the court room she was crying her heart out. Her friends from the PREDA home for abused girls were hugging and embracing her trying to give her comfort. She felt she had been cheated, violated again and again every time the Clerk of Court reading the court’s decision declared her rapist “not guilty”. Every count was dismissed on one technicality after another. The accused stood there smirking, as if knowing the outcome in advance.

Clever lawyers, weak uncaring prosecutors and a lazy ignorant judge seemed to be on the take and caused the emotional and mental anguish to Angelica and a life long trauma. So a trial is a money making sham and the fig leaf for the impunity enjoyed by the bribe making accused. Bribery is usually assumed then such cases are decided in favor of the accused despite strong evidence.

Without a well paid private prosecutor child victims don’t have a chance of winning a case and getting justice. The abuser goes free laughing all the way to his next victim and many more after that. It’s estimated that a child abuser has up to a hundred victims before being caught. Such corrupt officials are co-rapists in my view. When a person knows in his or her conscience that a crime has been committed and the evidence is strong and clear and then acts against it, that’s a crime in itself.

Impunity is the norm when it comes to child sexual abuse cases. The child rapists, traffickers, sex abusers and assassins are seldom caught, charged or convicted. Police too can get away with brutality and torture since they are seldom investigated and brought to trial.

The gruesome massacre and mutilation of some 57 people that included 32 journalists in Maguindanao, in Southern Philippines two years ago on November 23, shocked the international press. It was the worst attack ever recorded against media practitioners. No convictions yet and little hope of justice it seems.

The horrific crime allegedly perpetrated by the Ampatuan clan to block there political rival from entering the elections is still in the preliminary stages. Only 93 suspects out of 196 have been arrested and of those only 29 have been arraigned. Eight months were lost due to petitions of the accused for the judge to inhibit herself. Out of 300 prosecution witnesses only 72 have been presented in court. The accused have applied for bail which is the center of the legal battle at present.

Media practitioners around the world have declared November 23 as “The international Day to end Impunity”. The Southeast Asian Press alliance led by Executive director Gayyathry Venkiteswaran, based in Thailand and an advocate of the campaign against impunity says that “Impunity is a chromic failure by states, judiciary, and law enforcement agencies to bring perpetrators to justice”. In Wikipedia we find the following definition of impunity, “In the international law of human rights, it refers to the failure to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to justice and, as such, itself constitutes a denial of the victims’ right to justice and redress”.

The blatant and obvious failure of the state to convict many accused where the evidence is convincing and strong could be taken as de facto impunity. In such cases the trial is a charade and money writes the favorable judgement. This injustice is the deepest wound in society that causes rebellion and war.

Wherever there is the abuse of power, influence and money and where corruption thrives there is the chance for alleged criminals to evade prosecution through influence and legal loopholes. Bankers are in the spotlight for defrauding investors, depositors and grossly mismanaging the funds entrusted to them by customers. Their excessive greedily huge salaries and bonuses are said to be the cause of the financial ruin of hundreds of thousands of people. Yet they enjoy impunity.

Impunity is never right and while we mourn the assassination of priests, pastors, human rights workers and abused children we must not abandon the pursuit of justice. Those that aid and abet impunity for the criminals are close to being criminals themselves. End

[In the news] Philippines under spotlight on Nov. 23 ‘Day to End Impunity’ – asiancorrespondent.com

Philippines under spotlight on Nov. 23 ‘Day to End Impunity’
By Tonyo Cruz

On Nov. 23, the second anniversary of the Maguindanao Massacre, the world remembers and asks everyone to stand up to impunity.

Now dubbed as “Day to End Impunity”, Nov. 23 will be a day of citizens’ action amid inaction of governments, such as that of President Benigno Aquino III, to shatter the culture and climate of impunity that allows the masterminds and perpetrators of extrajudicial killings to go unchallenged.

Although we have been told that our country has been under a new management with President Aquino, the Philippines is still way up there, along with Iraq and Somalia, in the Impunity Index, a list of countries based on the number of unsolved murders of journalists.

Read full article @ asiancorrespondent.com

[From the web] Mindy’s Musings: Blog Action Day to end impunity – en.wikipilipinas.org

Mindy’s Musings

Hello WikiPinoys! It’s been more than two years since the last time I’ve blogged. I’m sure you guys have missed my musings.


I’ve come out from this long hiatus to remind all of you about an important commemoration on November 23, 2011. It is the International Day to End Impunity, the worldwide commemoration of journalists, media people, and information sharers against impunity, or the relentless repression and intimidation against the media and activists highlighted by the murder of 58 people, including 31 journalists, in the Maguindanao Massacre on November 23, 2009.

Impunity has been one of the grim legacies of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration. According to an editorial by the Philippine Online Chronicles: “President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo‘s ascent to Malacanang was, unfortunately, marked by the death of a prominent labor leader. Less than a month after Arroyo was sworn in as President on 20 January 2001, Filemon “Popoy” Lagman was assassinated by still-unknown forces, making him the first victim of extrajudicial killings under the Arroyo administration. Lagman’s demise was followed by at least 863 deaths as of 2007. At the tailend of her term, 57 people were allegedly murdered by a ruling political clan in Maguindanao.”

However, despite incumbent president Benigno Aquino III‘s promise of a shift toward good governance, impunity still exists as nine journalists have been killed in the 15-month reign of the current administration, according to Bulatlat.com.

Worldwide, the Philippines is ranked as third in Committee to Protect Journalists Impunity Index. This means that the Philippines is the third most dangerous place for journalists, just behind war-torn Iraq and Somalia. It is very ironic that our home country, which is regarded as Asia’s first democracy, is now one of the most dangerous places to live for people who are tasked to uphold democracy and freedom.

Read full article @ en.wikipilipinas.org

[In the news] Kin, friends launch movement for justice on Doc Gerry Ortega’s b-day- InterAksyon.com

Kin, friends launch movement for justice on Doc Gerry Ortega’s b-day
Joseph Holandes Ubalde, InterAksyon.com

MANILA, Philippines – On his 48th birthday on Tuesday, August 23, the family and friends of  Gerardo “Gerry” Ortega launched the “Justice for Doc Gerry Ortega Movement” for the Palawan-based broadcaster and environmental activist who was slain on January 24, 2011.

Ortega’s daughter Mika said the group would display the images of her father in a tarp series titled “Sampung Persona ng Isang Bayani” during the activities for the victim’s birthday week.

“It’s for Dad’s birthday week. The idea here is lifted from a passage from both the Talmud and the Qur’an saying “He who takes a single life kills a world entire.” In the end, murder is more than just taking a single life,” said Mika.

Read full article @ www.interaksyon.com

[Statement] The next year: a breakthrough or a breakdown against impunity

Photo by PAHRA


The first year of a newly elected presidency is often described as “necessarily a time of transition, of learning the proverbial ropes…..”. Last week, an editorial in Philippine Daily Inquirer even went to the extent of saying that “ President Aquino’s first achievement is to inaugurate, slowly, perhaps not too steadily, but also surely, the post-Arroyo era”. For the human rights victims and the human rights defenders, this is farthest from the truth.

Last December 22, 2010, President Aquino launched the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) or “Bayanihan”to replace the Operation BantayLaya. The name Bayanihanfor the new plan was deliberate since the new security agenda claims focus  “for a multi-stakeholder approach to peace and security plan and the protection of our rights and liberties”. In his cover letter for the Bayanihan document, the President stated that the IPSP “opens up space for the involvement of the Filipino people in defining, shaping, and ensuring our peace and security as a nation”. A new paradigm shift is in the offing.

With good faith, we took the challenge of the new President. We entered into multi-sectoral dialogues and human rights case conferences together with the top Human Rights Officers of the AFP and the PNP and some of their high ranking territorial commanders.  Agreements were made and these buoyed high spirits in the speedy resolution of human rights cases.  In the case conference, the Commission on Human Rights pointed out to both the AFP and PNP that the delay in the submission of copies of the agreed reports  would also hinder the speedy resolution of the human rights violations presented in the said conference. Since March 2010, no copies  were submitted to the CHR.

The much delayed NAPOLCOM investigation on Col. Mukaram’s role in the first torture case under Pres. Aquino’s regime in August last year and the snail-paced preliminary investigation of state prosecutors in Pampanga are insults for the human rights victims and the relatives. All these dragging paper trails are justified as necessary documentation to ensure the speedy resolution of the cases filed. What an irony!

The decision to  move and form the Truth Commission to unravel the extent of corruption of the past regime and consequently, send the culprits  to the jail is most welcome.  The judicious use of people’s money should always  be ensured at all times.But far more significantly stolen from the national wealth are lives of our people, Filipinos who died, no thanks to the security forced initiated political  killings and other human rights violations. For  human lives always takes precedence over the millions of pesos.

The current President has been indecisive and glaringly wanting in this direction. Victims of extra-judicial killings, forced disappearances, illegal arrests and torture during the past regime still clamor for justice. Not one of these cases has been solved and the perpetuators still roam free.

Subverting his own inaugural promise to adhere to the rule of law and respect for human rights, President Aquino allowed human rights violations to continue to be committed during his first year term. The culture of impunity has not stopped!

In Central Luzon, a new phenomenon was added–the  systematic and continuous assault on the physical and psychological security of persons and communities. Community leaders receive letters with enclosed bullets or black ribbons, get “notices” for military “visits” or are regularly “invited” to military camps or detachments of combat forces.In Bulucan, peasant members and organizers of  Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura  (AMA) as well as a legal political movement, SANLAKAS were subjected to the vilification campaign of the AFP. Such psychological torture drives some to deep depression and grave anxiety. In Samar, a poor peasant hanged himself in his home to be finally “free” from this continuous physical and psychological assault.

These seemingly separate yet related events  only show the sharpening of the contradiction between the demand for ‘changes’ on one hand and the ossified and inflexible structures and procedures of the institutions of the security forces.  It also magnifies that contradiction between the President’s personal and political experiences of past human rights violations and the demands of leadership to end the prevailing culture of impunity.

The Aquino government  continues to promote and safeguard the interest of transnational corporations, implement the  dictates of the international financial institutions and in the process make the operation of finance capital unrestricted.  All these have made the nation a theatre for a systematic violations of economic, cultural and social rights of the people. Human rights pronouncements have become more rhetorics than substance.  More words, less action.  There is no national agenda for human rights.  But this is a national agenda for capital over human rights to boot.

The Hanjin Heavy Industries and Constructing Philippines, Inc.in Zambales is one of its living epitome. Its workers are subjected to recurring accidents due to   unsafe working conditions, maltreatment, lack of medical facilities, and suffer from low wages. Acquiescing to the phenomenon of contractualization short-changes the workers to a quality of life worthy of one’s dignity.

President Benigno C. Aquino, Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, is failing miserably in his avowed paradigm shift to  uphold the primacy of human rights in matters of governance, security, development, trade and environment.  His leadership in making human rights the preferred values of his administration and a hallmark of his legacy must be realized this year.  Against impunity, we will either have a breakthrough or a breakdown.

Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, Defend Central Luzon- Ateneo Human Rights Centre, Ateneo College of  Law Student Government ,  Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA)- Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Hanjin (SAMAHAN)-Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD)

Press Statement

July 8, 2010

[Event] Pnoy’s Performance in Ending Impunity ‘Dismal’ AFP, PNP Stumbling Blocks in Resolving Cases Says Human Rights Defenders

One year into the Aquino administration and the promise of change in
terms of human rights protection, promotion and respect has yet to be

Even more ironic is that initiatives to end impunity through tie ups
with state security forces (AFP, PNP) and civil society organizations
has gained little headway and precious little concrete gains for the
families of the tortured, the disappeared and even victims of
extra-judicial executions or killings (EJKs).

For instance:

•       Promising to submit necessary papers to the Commission on Human
Rights on pressing human rights cases way back last March 2011 and the
AFP and PNP has yet to do so.

•       Delayed NAPOLCOM investigation against Colonel Mukaram and his role
in the first documented torture case in the Aquino administration.

There is also the rise in what could only constitute as torture of
whole communities- creating an atmosphere of fear, anxiety and unease
with so-called notices of summons from state security agents,
invitations to military camps/ detachments and vilification campaigns
against legitimate people’s organizations.

Not only civil and political rights but economic, social and cultural
rights are also violated, as exemplified by the current situation of
the twenty one thousand workers at Hanjin shipyard in Subic, Zambales.

The culture of impunity which was bred and cultivated in the previous
Arroyo administration has not ended.

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), DEFEND
Central Luzon, Ateneo Human Rights Centre (AHRC), UP Law Student
Government and Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya ( KPD) will
jointly issue their verdict on Pnoy’s First Year as President.

We Invite Media Friends to Cover a press conference on July 8, 2011
(FRIDAY) @ Max’s Restaurant (M. Orosa St. Near U.N. Avenue) from 10am
to 12nn.

Panel will feature:
•       PAHRA Chairperson Max De Mesa
•       Attorney RP Santiago of AHRC
•       Representatives from Task Force Detainees the Philippines, AMA (a
peasant organization) and UP Law Student Government

For more info contact Rose (PAHRA) 0906 5531792 or DJ (KPD) 0923 8161971

[Statement] IKULONG at PARUSAHAN ang mga MANDARAMBONG sa NFA! – Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura

File photo source: allvoices.com

File photo source: allvoices.com

WAKASAN ang Pagpapahirap sa Masa’t Magsasaka!

Nitong mga nakaraang araw ay ginimbal tayo ng balitang mahigit sa P100 B ang nanakaw sa kaban ng bayan dahil sa problema ng korupsyon at pandarambong sa loob ng National Food Authority (NFA) sa nakalipas na 10-taon. Kagimbal-gimbal at kakundi-kundena ang ganitong paglalantad. Habang pinagkakaitan ng sapat na suporta ang mahigit na limang milyong magsasaka sa palayan ay lumalangoy naman sa bilyung-bilyong piso ang mga tiwaling opisyal NFA at nagpipiyesta ang mga kasangkot nitong mga negosyante’t kartel sa industriya ng bigas sa bansa.

Hindi bago ito sa mata ng mga magsasaka sa palayan. Pinatunayan lamang ng pagbubunyag ang matagal nang sinasabi ng mga magsasaka hinggil sa importasyon ng bigas at transaksyon ng mga pribadong  sektor sa NFA. Hindi ang taumbayan at mga magsasaka ang tunay na nakikinabang sa mga programa kundi ang mga tiwaling opisyal ng ahensya at mga kakutsaba nitong malalaking negosyante sa bigas at palayan.


Mistulang operasyon ng BURIKI GANG ang nalantad na katiwalian at anomalya sa NFA. Ang kutsabahan ng mga tiwaling opisyal at mga kasosyo nitong kartel sa bigas ay operasyon ng isang gangster na sistematikong pinagpipyestahan ang kahirapan at kakulangan ng ating bansa.

Isang dekadang binuburiki ng mga bwitreng ito ang pondong laan para sa importasyon at operasyon ng NFA. P 100.92B piso ang kinulimbat ng BURIKI GANG sa pondo ng bayan.  Ang nasabing pagpapasobra  sa inaangkat na bigas ng bansa at diumano’y milyun-milyong kilong pagkawala ng bigas sa mga imbakan bunga kuno ng landing spillage pati na ang pagsasauli sa milyon pisong bond sa mga pribadong sektor ay larawan ng sistematikong pandarambong ng BURIKI GANG sa loob ng NFA.

Kaya’t hindi kataka-kataka ang kabiguang makamit ang inaasam-asam na kasapatan sa pangunahing pagkain sa bansa. Dahil sa halip na tumagas ang pondo sa lokal na produksyon at mga magsasaka ay sa bulsa ng mga tiwali at iilang mayayaman ito pumupunta.
Hindi lamang PANDARAMBONG kundi TREASON ding matatawag ang operasyong ito ng BURIKI GANG. Sinabotahe nito ang ekonomiya para sa interes ng pagkakamal ng limpak-limpak na maibubulsa sa kaban ng bayan. Sinamantala at lalong pinalala ang kakulangan natin sa pangunahing pagkain at kahirapan ng mamamayan upang maibulsa ang pondo ng gobyerno at makapagbenta ng mahal na presyo ng bigas sa ating bansa. Sa ganitong kasalanan, hindi sapat na patalsikin lamang  ang mga responsable sa anomalya bagkus dapat silang ARESTUHIN at BITAYIN sa kanilang KRIMEN sa taumbayan.

LIBERALISASYON at  PRIBATISASYON ng BIGASAN: Ugat ng Kawalan ng Kasapatan sa Bigas

Ang Palpak at anti-magsasakang programa ng liberalisasyon at pribatisasyon ng bigasan at NFA ang tunay na ugat sa patuloy na kakulangan ng bansa sa ating pangunahing pagkain.

Ang pagsandig sa importasyon o pag-aangkat ng imported na bigas upang punan ang ating kakulangan ay bunga ng pagpapatupad ng liberalisasyon sa agrikultura at industriya ng bigasan sa bansa. Mahigit na P 10 Bilyong piso kada taon ang ginagastos sa pag-aangkat. Habang kalahati lamang nito ang inilaan para sa lokal na pagbili sa ating magsasaka. Kapos na nga sa pondo inilalaan pa sa mga dayuhan sa halip na sa ating lokal na industriya.

Sa liberalisayon, taun-taong pwesahan tayong pinag-aangkat ng tone-toneladang bigas sa ilalim ng MINIMUM ACCESS VOLUME (MAV). May kakulangan man o wala obligado tayong kunin ang nasabing kota sa ngalan ng pagtangkilik sa malayang kumpetisyon at pamilihan. Kaya’t sa halip na kontrolin at proteksyunan ang lokal na industriya ay ibinuyayang at tinalikuran ito ng ating gobyerno at inoobliga ang sariling tangkilikin ang imported na bigas at ilagay sa kamay ng pribadong sektor ang  kinabukasan ng ating pangunahing pagkain. Ito ang ugat ng ating kawalan ng sapat na pagkain sa bansa.

Ang kasalukuyang direksyon ng pagrereporma sa NFA ay pribatisasyon ng ahensya upang lubusin ang liberalisasyon ng industriya ng bigasan sa bansa. Ang DECOUPLING o paghihiwalay ng mga tungkulin at papel ng NFA at pagdidiin na lamang sa pag-iimbak o buffer stocking ay nasa direksyon ng paglalagay sa kinabukasan ng mamamayan at ng bigas sa bansa sa kamay ng malalaking pribadong negosyante at korporasyon.

Ito’y pagtalikod ng gobyerno sa obligasyon nitong tiyakin ang karaparatan sa pagkain ng bansa at pagbitaw nito sa tungkuling proteksyunan ang maliliit magsasaka at mahihirap na mamamayan laban sa mapagsamantalang interes ng kapital at tubo sa bansa.

Sa liberalisasyon at pribatisasyon walang tanging nakikinabang kundi mga negosyante’t kapitalista at mga kakutsaba nitong tiwaling opisyal ng gobyerno habang ang mamamayan at maliliit na magsasaka ay patuloy na malulugmok sa kumunoy ng kahirapan at pagsasamantala. Ang inilantad  sa NFA ay malinaw na patotoo na walang katotohanan na mas magiging maayos at mura ang pagkain sa kamay ng pribadong sektor at mga negosyante.

Ang tunay na solusyon sa ating agrikultura ay nasa pagpapalakas ng suporta’t subsidyo sa ating mga mahihirap na magsasaka, pagwasak sa monopolyo sa pagmamay-ari ng lupa at modernisasyon ng agrikultura at hindi liberalisasyon at pribatisasyon.

Hamon kay Pnoy

Kung tunay at seryoso si Pnoy sa landas nang makabuluhang pagbabago agrikultura at ekonomiya dapat nitong ibasura ang  landas ng ibayong liberalisasyon ng ekonomiya at pribatisasyon ng mga ahensya’t serbisyo ng gobyerno tulad ng NFA. Sapat na ang mahigit  tatlong dekadang mapanirang epekto nito sa ekonomiya at kabuhayan ng mamamayan.

At sa halip, isulong nito ang industriyalisasyon at modernisasyon ng agrikultura. Ibayong palakasin ang suporta’t proteksyon ng gobyerno sa mahihirap. At huli, ipatupad nito ang demokratikong pagsasakapangyarihan at partisipasyon ng mamamayan sa pamamahala’t pagpapatakbo ng gobyerno kung nais nitong tunay na masawata ang lumalalang korapsyon at katiwalian sa pamahalaan.


Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA) at Makabayan Pilipinas
May 19, 2011

[In the news] EDITORIAL – Ending impunity | The Philippine Star News Opinion

EDITORIAL – Ending impunity | The Philippine Star News Opinion.

Jovito Palparan has retired from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and no one has replaced him, in the eyes of activists and human rights advocates, as the face of the human rights violator. Yet the Aquino administration continues to be taken to task for the country’s human rights record.

The London-based rights watchdog Amnesty International cited 40 cases of extrajudicial killings since Benigno Aquino III assumed the presidency last year. The most notable case was that of botanist Leonard Co, who was killed, according to the military, when he was caught in the crossfire between government forces and the communist New People’s Army in Leyte.

A key concern of Amnesty International and other human rights advocates is the impunity that has arisen from the failure of the state to solve cases of human rights violations and bring the perpetrators to justice. That impunity had its worst manifestation in the massacre of 57 people, 32 of them media workers, in Maguindanao, in the country’s most atrocious case of political violence. The politicians accused of responsibility for the massacre clearly believed they could get away with the crime. While the mass murder was carried out two years ago under the previous administration, the case is dragging on in court, bolstering fears that litigation could take a hundred years.

Amnesty International lauded several initiatives undertaken by the Aquino administration to protect human rights, as it noted that most of the unsolved cases took place during the nine-year presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. AI counts 305 cases of extrajudicial killings and over 200 cases of enforced disappearances during the Arroyo administration that are still waiting to be solved.

Solution now lies at the hands of a new President, whose parents were human rights victims and icons of freedom. That legacy has created higher public expectations that Benigno Aquino III will end the culture of impunity that has guaranteed the continuation of human rights violations in this country.

[In the news] Malacañang defends record in solving unexplained killings | The Philippine Star News Headlines

Malacañang defends record in solving unexplained killings | The Philippine Star News Headlines.

By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star)

Manila, PhilippinesMalacañang defended yesterday its record in solving unexplained killings and ensuring that the human rights in the country are safeguarded.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview with radio dzRB that various steps had been taken to stop human rights violations and protect witnesses.

An Amnesty International report stated that human rights violations continue in the Philippines nearly a year after President Aquino assumed office.

If there are those that are bent on doing something criminal, there really would be things likes these. But it doesnt mean were not taking steps to decrease (rights violations) and prosecute those responsible for these crimes, Valte said. She said the Commission on Human Rights and the executive branch were working to have certainty of punishment for the perpetrators of crimes.

Valte said the Department of Justice that oversees the Witness Protection Program (WPP) had been assessing what could be done to make the WPP more effective.

She said its not fair to compare the current administration with the previous one because unexplained killings that occurred under the Aquino government have been resolved speedily.

Valte said of the six cases, the suspects in five of these had been arrested immediately after the crimes were committed.

And the cases are ongoing. This is an indication that there is progress in things that we want to pursue apprehension and prosecution, she said.

[Statement] House of Representatives, House for Impunity? – PAHRA


Max De Mesa of PAHRA - file photo

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) calls on our House of Representatives to prevent the passage of a House Resolution endorsing the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the heroes’ cemetery. For this end, we especially ask for our lawmakers who already did sign to withdraw their signatures.

An approval for this House Resolution would turn our House of Representatives into a House for Impunity.

Ferdinand E. Marcos could never be a Filipino hero.  This is tantamount to justifying the numerous atrocious human rights violations perpetrated during his dictatorial regime and his imposition of martial law.  The Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) has a Museum of Courage and Resistance that contains the documentation of at least 21,000 cases of human rights violations during the marital law period.  The Museum’s documentation since 1974 belies not only the blatant denial of Marcos that “no one but no one has been tortured”, but upholds the position that the impunity of that period persists beyond EDSA.

The initiative of Representative Salvador Escudero is a resolution for impunity, not for justice to the martial law victims and their families who were tortured, subjected to enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings.  It is a resolution to make of Marcos a historical model of an internationally known human rights violator for generations to come and to discourage any sincere compliance of the Philippines as State Party to at least 8 Human Rights Treaties.

Ferdinand E. Marcos could never be hero for the rights of people to participate in governance and to development.  His imposed rule instead had undermined our democratic institutions and our country’s development.  The wide-spread impoverishment at the end of martial law could in no way be a basis for developing into another Singapore unless perhaps induced by intensified repression.  Rather, it must be recalled that the corrupt dictatorial regime of Marcos was the one responsible for turning the Philippines into the “sick man” of Asia.

PAHRA calls on all Filipinos who uphold dignity and human rights to persuade our legislators to junk the resolution of Representative Salvador Escudero to bury Ferdinand E. Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.


Max M. de Mesa,

Max de Mesa (0920) 9080480
Candy Diez (0927) 401-2416

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