Karapatan on PH gov’t rights report to the UN: Outright lies, non-existent efforts to stop rights abuses

“Non-existent efforts to stop rights abuses and outright lies by the Philippine government in its report for the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations Human Rights Council gloss emphasize the reality that human and people’s rights violations continue with impunity,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General, on the PH government report expected to be presented today, May 8, 2017, in Geneva, Switzerland. 

Palabay said that while the government report cited the creation of the inter-agency committee on extra-legal killings, enforced disappearances, and torture, by virtue of former President Benigno Aquino III’s Administrative Order 35, no information was provided on the output and impact of the said task force. Karapatan documented 249 victims of extrajudicial killing (including 12 cases of massacre), 244 torture victims, and 17 desaparecidos, from 2012 to June 30,2016. 

“No conviction has been attained in any of the said cases, nor has there been swift and impartial prosecution, while many of the State perpetrators have not been arrested to this day. The Aquino government’s accountability can never be glossed over by task forces that have not rendered justice and have instead acted as elegant smokescreens to absolve the perpetrators,” Palabay said. 

The government report also stated that “there is no State policy that promotes, condones, sanctions or encourages extrajudicial killings (EJKs)… of drug traffickers, criminals, or dissenters.” 

“Fifty five peasants and indigenous peoples were killed due to the counter-insurgency war of the military from July 2016 to April 2017, while hundreds if not thousands were killed in line with the anti-drug campaign of the corrupt and brutish police force. These figures are far from the rhetoric that there is no State policy of extrajudicial killings,” Palabay stated. 

Even weeks and days before the rights review, extrajudicial killings by military perpetrators continue, the most recent among the cases are the massacre of three residents in Masbate and an indigenous people’s leader in Compostela Valley.  

On April 20, 2017, a grandmother and her two grandchildren were killed by composite elements of the 3rd Scout Ranger and 903rd Brigade in Sitio Lubugan, Brgy. Pananawan, Cawayan, Masabate. Lolita Pepito, 70, and her two grandkids, aged 9 and 12, were killed when State forces surrounded and indiscriminately fired at their residence. On May 4, 2017, at around 4 p.m., Lumad leader Federico Plaza was shot dead by unnamed assailants believed to be members of 71st and 46th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA).

“Despite previous recommendations through international human rights mechanisms such as the UPR and special rapporteurs, extrajudicial killings, torture, forcible evacuation and attacks against communities, and other rights abuses remain unabated due to continuing repressive State policies and counter-insurgency programs and the socio-economic and political ills that plague the country. These violations are State-sponsored, systemic and have affected a great majority of the Philippine population,” Palabay added. 

“Past regimes and the current administration should be made to account, and crimes against the Filipino people be exposed. We need justice. We call on the Duterte administration to stop the killings and the fascist and repressive policies, and instead implement pro-people programs,” Palabay concluded. 

 

 

 

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