In an int’l rights conference in London: IMPUNITY AND TERROR CONTINUE UNDER PNOY

“There has been no let-up in the terror and violence especially against human rights defenders under the administration of Noynoy Aquino. Impunity persists because Aquino, despite all his rhetoric on human rights, has been passive in making former Pres. Arroyo and her top generals accountable for rights violations, perhaps because his administration promotes the same brand of terror and violence on the ground.”

Thus said Karapatan spokesperson Cristina Palabay today as she and Atty. Edre Olalia of the National Union of People’s Lawyers joined human rights defenders from Colombia, Palestine, Belarus, Belgium, Chechnya, the Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom in a conference organized by the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, Amnesty International, and the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights in London.

The delegates also met with United Kingdom parliamentarians led by MP Jeremy Corbyn to brief them of the current human rights situation in the country. Corbyn also gave the opening remarks during the said conference.

In a paper presented by Karapatan and NUPL and in the workshops, Karapatan raised the recent killing of Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio as among the most recent attacks against human rights defenders, while police investigation is yet to pinpoint the mastermind of the killingeven if authorities claimed that they have arrested a suspect last December.

“Fr. Pops is among the 37 human rights defenders who are victims of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) under the Aquino administration, with the total number of victims documented at 67 in the one and a half years of his presidency. There is approximately one EJK per week. Three out of nine victims of enforced disappearances are human rights defenders. Most of them are farmers, indigenous peoples, workers and the urban poor who are defending their right to land, ancestral domain, livelihood, decent housing, jobs and other basic and fundamental rights,” they said.

Palabay said further attacks against human rights defenders are looming with the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, no different from Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya, enforced. She cited the threat against 72 leaders of people’s organizations and institutions, including leaders of Karapatan in Southern Tagalog, to be again charged with baseless and trumped up cases of multiple murder, despite a court dismissal of the same charges.

“The case of the Southern Tagalog 72 and the threat that warrants of arrests may be issued against them despite the dismissal of the same charges previously is illustrative of the situation of HRDs in the Philippines – threatened, vilified, heaped upon with fabricated charges, imprisoned, silenced,” Palabay added.

Palabay will also head the delegation of the Philippine UPR Watch, a network of organizations and church institutions engaging in the Universal Periodic Review process, in Geneva, Switzerland this coming February 27 to March 13, 2012. 


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