No fun for rights workers and people in PH

As the human rights group expresses its condemnation on the recent extrajudicial killing (EJK) of Willem Geertman, Karapatan today said that the human rights situation in the country under the Aquino administration has gone worse.

Willem Geertman 

Cristina Palabay, spokesperson of Karapatan said the rights group has documented 95 victims of extrajudicial killings (EJK) from July 2010 to June 30, 2012, with Geertman as the 96th reported victim in the first two years of Aquino. Among the 95 victims, 43 of them were rights workers in various organizations and institutions. Many are farmers, indigenous peoples and environmental activists. 

“More than a month after GPH was grilled on the continuing EJK and rights violations and the prevalence of impunity in the country at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations (UN), these violations continue to be wantonly committed. Oplan Bayanihan, Aquino’s counter-insurgency program, engenders such violations as activists continue to be threatened, harassed, red-tagged and eventually killed like Geertman,” she explained.

In the UPR, some 23 foreign missions earlier expressed concern on the continuing rights violations in the Philippines and have forwarded recommendations to the GPH. Immediately after the UPR the European Parliament, through a resolution, voiced out similar concern.

With Geertman’s killing, several international solidarity groups and institutions have demanded to the Aquino administration to stop the killings and to scrap Oplan Bayanihan, among them are Nederlands-Filippijnse Solidariteitsbeweging (Dutch-Philippine Solidarity Movement), International League of People’s Struggles (ILPS), the Hong Kong Campaign for the Advancement of Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines, the Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA), Auckland Philippines Solidarity (APS), Wellington Kiwi Pinoy (WKP), Philippine US Solidarity Organization, Canada Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights, and the International Coordinating Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICCHRP). The Dutch Ambassador to the Philippines also expressed “his sincere hope that authorities will hold those behind the killing accountable.”

On June 30, Karapatan also documented the killing of Romualdo Palispis, chair of the Justice and Peace Action Group (JPAG) in Aurora Province, who met with Geertman shortly before he was arbitrarily executed. Both were active in leaders of the campaign of farmers in Aurora against the Aurora Pacific Ecozone and Freeport Authority project (APECO). Both received threats and tagged by the military as supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New Peoples’ Army (NPA).

Palabay said the extrajudicial killings and military operations affecting whole communities perpetuated in the framework of Oplan Bayanihan aim to counter the people’s growing opposition to anti-poor projects of the Aquino administration. ###