“If we have seen the horrible gross, systematic rights violations during the Arroyo regime, we should brace ourselves for the continuation of these violations and the rule of IMPUNITY under the Aquino regime’s Oplan Bayanihan,” so warned Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Chairperson of the human rights alliance, KARAPATAN, commenting on the recent CHR resolution on the case of the alleged torture of Melissa Roxas, a Filipino-American, abducted and tortured for almost a week in May 2009.
“With the CHR resolution, the crime of TORTURE will have its heyday under the Aquino administration. The perpetrators will only have to make sure that they are not identified as State agents and voila, there is no crime of torture!” wryly observed Enriquez. “This is one way of rendering inutile and ineffective the anti-torture law or RA 9745, touted by the previous regime as a way of helping victims to obtain effective remedies. It is no wonder that the AFP feels vindicated. Indeed, this is injustice of the highest order!” added Enriquez.
The CHR resolution was dated February 14 but was only received by the petitioner’s parties on April 19, 2011. It may be recalled that February 14 was the eve of the formal peace talks between the GPH and the NDFP. For KARAPATAN, it is by no means coincidental that the CHR resolution came in the wake of the reported formal opening of the peace negotiations with the NDFP with which the government signed the CARHRIHL, an agreement that binds the two Parties to observe and respect human rights and international humanitarian law.
Even as the resolution is couched in the UN language of human rights, it sends a chilling message that violations of State Parties can be effectively concealed and instead turns the tables on the NDFP on the role of so-called non-state actors, a favorite term of the present Chairperson of the CHR.
“If this is the formula of “winning the peace” under Oplan Bayanihan, we hope that the other members of the CHR will not allow themselves to be suck into this counter-insurgency machinations directed by the AFP and US military advisers and swallowed hook, line and sinker by the P-Noy administration,” said Enriquez.
KARAPATAN denounces and condemns this recent move of the regime through the CHR as one way of effectively curtailing the rights of the people. In a twisted, incredible wicked logic, CHR ignored Roxas’ testimonies on her abductors and instead relied on reports from what it called ‘credible source’ but ‘without specific names’ to readily pinpoint to the New people’s Army as the perpetrators of the crime and easily absolved the Armed Forces of the Philippines of any wrongdoing, a line being maintained by the AFP to wash their hands of any accountability in these violations.
“We decry the CHR’s devious, wicked use of the case of Melissa Roxas to wash off the hands of State security forces of accountability in committing human rights violations. Such tactics will entrench the rule of IMPUNITY in such violations. We pledge to fight for justice to the victims of human rights violations,” concluded Marie Hilao-Enriquez. ###