Think before you speak, Mr. President, the ball is in your hands

Karapatan today derided Pres. Aquino’s statement that extrajudicial killings is not his government’s policy, as he called on senatorial candidate, Teddy Casino of Bayan Muna, to help in solving the killings by looking for evidences and filing cases. 

“The problem with the Aquino government is when it can no longer justify the existence of human rights violations and when its pro-human rights posturing is exposed as a sham, it turns the table around and puts the burden of proof on the victims and those who advocate and defend human rights.  Ano naman ang silbi ng ganitong gobyerno? ” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.

“Mr. President, you should think before you speak, because the responsibility of exacting justice is in your hands. In the first place, the burden of solving the cases of extrajudicial killings and serving justice to the victims is with the Aquino government, especially because majority, if not all of the killings, involve the armed and paramilitary forces headed by Aquino. But since he failed to even lift a finger to solve these cases, the relatives of human rights victims and Karapatan have taken it upon ourselves to initiate the filing of cases in Court,” she added.   

Karapatan said that there are several cases long pending in court, among them are the killings of Fernando Baldomero, the first victim of extrajudicial killing under Aquino; the case of botanist Leonard Co, Italian Priest Fr. Fausto Tentorio, the Dutch volunteer Willem Geertman and Dr. Gerry Ortega. “These high-profile cases remain unsolved and none of the perpetrators are put to jail yet. One could just imagine how it is for the families of the more than 100 lesser-known victims of extrajudicial killings under Aquino,” added Palabay.   

Karapatan said that “Aquino is responsible for these killings because of his administration’s Oplan Bayanihan, and accountable at the very least, for not exercising due diligence in rendering justice for the victims.”

The  perpetrators in the killing of Baldomero remain free from arrest, while the case filed by the relatives of Co at the Department of Justice have yet to be heard after more than a year. Meanwhile, the masterminds in the killing of Tentorio and Geertman, who are alleged to be members of paramilitary and military forces, remain unscathed. 

There are other perpetrators, Palabay said, “who remain scot-free as in the case of Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. and the Reyes brothers who are involved in the killing of Ortega ; while other such as Maj. Gen. Jorge Segovia and Col. Aurelio Baladad, who face charges for the torture of 43 health workers known as Morong 43 were promoted by Aquino.“
Palabay also stressed that Aquino could not brush off these killings as isolated cases, and not as part of his government’s policy. “We would like to remind the President that his counterinsurgency program, the Oplan Bayanihan has been terrorizing people, especially in the countryside, and has already resulted to a continuously increasing number of human rights violations, aside from extrajudicial killings. How can the killings not be part of his government’s policy? ”