While the Philippine Senate focuses on the impeachment of CJ Corona, today, March 13, members of the House of Representatives Committee on Human Rights begin its investigations on alleged human rights violations contained in several House resolutions filed by progressive partylist representatives Rafael Mariano (Anakpawis), Antonio Tinio (ACT), Raymond Palatino (Kabataan), Luz Ilagan and Emmie de Jesus (Gabriela Women’s Party). The hearing covered cases of extrajudicial killing, arrests and detention, torture, threats, harassment and vilification by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, specifically in Northern and Central Luzon and the National Capital regions.
In the said hearing, Karapatan presented victims, families of victims and witnesses of alleged human rights violations in the regions where Oplan Bayanihan, Pnoy’s version of the counter-insurgency program put in place by the administration in January 2011 and touted as a program different from GMA’s OBL because this “new” program is supposedly “respectful” of human rights, is strongly implemented.
“We want to impress upon the members of the Committee on Human Rights and to P-Noy especially, that his ‘bosses’—the poor and marginalized, if Pnoy include them as his “boss”—have become victims of human rights violations that continue unabated under his watch. P-Noy extended implementation of GMA’s bloody Oplan Bantay Laya during his first six months in office and replaced it with Oplan Bayanihan in 2011. The terror of Oplan Bantay Laya is carried over through Oplan Bayanihan, despite its use of slogans like ‘adherence to human rights’ and so-called peace and development,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of Karapatan. She also reminded the House members that victims under the OBL have not even been rendered justice, nor has Pnoy initiated the prosecution of perpetrators of human rights violations under the OBL.
Among the cases heard today by the Committee were the extrajudicial killing of Pascual Guevarra (Central Luzon) and Antonio Homo (NCR).
The 78 year-old Guevarra was a farmer who was shot dead inside his house by a gunman in San Isidro, Laur, Nueva Ecija on July 9, 2010. Guevarra was at the forefront of the struggle for the 3,100 hectare land in Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation (FMMR) where the 7th IDPA (7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army) is based. The killer was with a male companion who rode away on a black motorcycle without a license plate.
Homo, 47, was an urban poor leader who protested against demolitions in Navotas City. He was killed on March 16, 2011 in a neighbor’s house in San Roque village, Kadiwa, Navotas City. Homo was the campaign officer of Nagkakaisang Samahan sa Kadiwa (Nasaka), a community organization which is opposed to the demolition in the community that will affect some 466 families. A gunman fired a 45 caliber pistol aimed at Homo’s head, while the latter was watching television in his home.
Simultaneous with the hearing, a multi-sectoral protest action was held at the south gate of Congress. The protesters called for the junking of Oplan Bayanihan and justice for all victims of human rights violations.
“No matter how P-Noy asserts that the Filipino people are with him ‘on the direction that he wants to track,’ his track bears the blood of the 67 victims of extrajudicial killings and thousands more of rights violations victims. P-Noy has the gall to claim that people who are against him have ‘diminished’ because that’s precisely what Oplan Bayanihan does –silence people’s voices and prevent them from airing their legitimate demands,” added Hilao-Enriquez.
Today’s congressional hearing is the first of a series of hearings by the Committee on Human Rights. On-site hearings are set in the coming months for cases in Southern Luzon, Bicol, Visayas and Mindanao.
“Even as he continues to ride on his being a son of a freedom fighter and a democracy icon, impunity will continue to reign as long as P-Noy insists on Oplan Bayanihan,” concluded Hilao-Enriquez.