ZERO JUSTICE, Oplan Bayanihan engenders impunity and rights abuses

“For one, impunity exists under the Noynoy Aquino administration because big-time human rights violators such as Maj. General Jovito Palparan are not being held accountable for their crimes. And two, because Aquino promotes the same brand of counter-insurgency policy that engenders extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detention, forcible displacement and other forms of rights abuses,” said Cristina Palabay, spokesperson of Karapatan and End Impunity Alliance. Palabay is part of the delegation of the Philippine UPR Watch, a network of rights activists who are in Geneva in time for the Philippine government’s Universal Periodic Review by the UN Human Rights Council.

Palabay stated this in the light of the release of the US State Department report on human rights in the Philippines and the upcoming review of compliance to rights treaty obligations of the GPH on May 29, 2012.

Under the Arroyo administration, Karapatan has documented 1,206 victims of extrajudicial killings and 206 victims of enforced disappearances, while there were 2,059 victims of illegal arrests and 1,099 victims of torture. 

“There is zero justice for the victims and their families. It is important to point out that the efforts to make the perpetrators accountable have been largely due to efforts of the victims and their kin’s persistence. Only one perpetrator among these cases of EJKs has been convicted, while Palparan, the most notorious among them, continues to mock and evade justice. While Aquino has gone after Chief Justice Corona for corrupt practices, he has left GMA untouched for human rights abuses. Military generals and police officials who committed torture and other grave violations even got promoted,” she commented. 

Karapatan has documented 76 victims of extrajudicial killings, 9 victims of enforced disappearances, 62 cases of torture, 3 rape victims, and 417 victims of illegal arrests under Aquino’s watch (as of March 2012). 

Palabay added that “killings, enforced disappearance, arrests and torture, forced evacuation, bombings of communities and indiscriminate firing by the military are committed against the people in the course of the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan.” Oplan Bayanihan, according to Karapatan is Aquino’s version of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s bloody Oplan Bantay Laya, which left hundreds of people killed. Oplan Bayanihan is closely patterned after the US’s counter-insurgency guide, added Karapatan. 

Earlier, the US government announced that it will increase its military aid to the Philippine government by three-fold, from last year’s $11.9 million to $30 million this year. The US and Philippine governments, in a “two plus two” meeting early May discussed how both countries can strengthen their common defense programs.  

“With its political influence and military aid to GPH and the direction of its counter-insurgency policy, the United States government is in fact a party to the continuing human rights abuses under this government,” Palabay said.

 

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