LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Aquino’s ‘successful’ NZ gab a misinformation to int’l community

Fiddling around the euphoria of pretensions and hubris, President Noynoy Aquino’s gab in New Zealand has sparked intense reactions.  His apologists, Ricky Carandang and Atty. Edwin Lacierda, expectedly, were quick to come to his defense.

Instead of seriously considering the concern of the international community on the human rights situation in the country, particularly, that of the Philippine Solidarity Network Alliance in New Zealand, Mr. Carandang and Atty. Lacierda easily dismissed this as mere “misinformation” and “propaganda of the extreme leftist elements in the Philippines.” 

PSNA repudiated these insinuations, citing reputable institutions and individuals that have raised similar concerns, such as the UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights defenders and extrajudicial killings; parliaments of the European Union, Canada and Italy; Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the World Council of Churches, among others.  

Like the government’s claim that there are no political prisoners in the Philippines or its report to the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights 13th Session in May this year,  Mr. Carandang bragged  of a “significant improvement” in the human rights situation in the country.   But the real situation on the ground belies this claim.  From July 2010 to September 2012, Karapatan has documented 114 cases of extrajudicial killings (EJK), 12 enforced disappearances, 70 torture victims, 224 victims of illegal arrests and detentions, 8,266 victims of forced eviction/demolition and 29,613 internally displaced persons, under  the Aquino presidency.

While Mr. Carandang attempts to deceive us into believing that the President has been dismantling killer groups, he merely enumerated private armies of politicians killing one another in their squabble for the spoils.  How about the paramilitary groups that killed those who fight for legitimate people’s rights?  Fr. Fausto Tentorio’s alleged killers, the Bagani paramilitary group, a version of the CAFGU among the indigenous peoples in Mindanao, is still on the loose.

The paramilitary groups are even strengthened when the President signed a directive allowing mining firms to employ paramilitary forces.

How hypocritical for this government to usurp credit for having Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. charged in court! It is the arduous and unrelenting efforts of the parents of the two UP students who were kidnapped, as well as the relatives of victims of EJKs in areas where Palparan was assigned, with the support of human rights advocates, that finally brought Palparan to court.

In the same vein, the favorable recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Committee on the complaints filed for the EJK of Benjaline Hernandez, Eden Marcellana and Eddie Gumanoy were obtained through the sheer efforts of their relatives and human rights groups.  And yet, said recommendations have not been implemented to date – two years into Aquino’s term.

It is so insensitive of this government to flaunt of imagined accomplishments while senseless killings, disappearances and innumerable human rights abuses continue; while the poor suffer from never ending price hikes and are even rendered homeless to give way to the Public-Private Partnership projects of government in the name of “development”; while justice seems so elusive and impunity persists.

The President has come home “successful” from his state visits after luring packages of foreign investments gained from myths of having “licked corruption”. But again for whose interest? ###             

Cristina Palabay
Karapatan Secretary General