To ignore Alston is to deny existence of dead bodies, blood in government’s hands

 The human rights umbrella Karapatan today said that by ignoring the Alston report, the Arroyo government is denying the existence of dead bodies and the blood in the hands of its security forces.

Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan Secretary General said that the statements made by Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez to the latest report of UN special rapporteur Philip Alston, only goes to show that the Arroyo government will not change its policy of targeting civilians in its perverted campaign against insurgency.

Hilao-Enriquez who had just returned from Geneva after attending the 42nd session of the UN Committee against Torture said that Philippine NGOs and victims of human rights violations take pains to cross thousands of miles to tell the world the real side of the story.  NGOs are usually given no more than five minutes to state their case; they are allowed to submit reports to the Committee.

She slammed Mrs. Arroyo’s cabinet secretaries, namely Eduardo Ermita, Raul Gonzales and deputy spokesperson Anthony Gonzales for their hypocrisy.  “They want to make it appear that the unfavorable assessment of the government’s performance was due to the so-called Leftist influence. Pa-underdog effect pa raw,” said Hilao-Enriquez.

“The public must know that the government has a permanent mission in Geneva and every so often, there is a big government delegation to the UN, their expenses paid for by taxpayers, of course.”

Karapatan also pointed to the fact that when Alston was in the country in 2007, he talked to all key government and military officials for 6 days and was only allowed to set aside four days for NGOs and the victims.  “And because Prof. Alston came out with an objective, critical report, these government functionaries have been trying to discredit the UN Special Rapporteur and even accused him of playing favorites to the communists and the rebels.  This move is pathetically hilarious and at the same time dangerous.” Hilao-Enriquez said.

“The Arroyo administration is using the Left as scapegoats to conceal the glaring truth of wanton human rights violations in a country which it runs in its brand of “democracy”.  The bottom line is government wants to deflect accountability; its report to the UN is a grand conspiracy to hide the truth of a deplorable human rights record,” she further explained.

“The issue here is that extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other forms of human rights violations have been the policy of the Arroyo government in its counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya. The president has continuously declared that the program will continue; her supposed moves to end the killings therefore are the height of hypocrisy and an insult to the victims and their families,” Hilao-Enriquez concluded.

They continue to treat everyone who opposes them as combatants. The simple truth that they want the world to ignore is in Alston’s report: killing civilians is a war crime.###