2007 Human Rights Report: Only GMA ouster can improve human rights situation

The human rights watchdog KARAPATAN today renewed calls for the ouster of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in order to improve the human rights and overall situation in the country.

"The civil, political, economic and social rights of every Filipino are being violated by this dangerous, fascist regime. Arroyo's continued implementation of her counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya II, the Anti-Terror Law and other draconian measures show her blatant disregard for the growing criticism of her regime's human rights record," said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, secretary general of the Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights (KARAPATAN).

In its 2007 year-end report, KARAPATAN said the number of cases went down this year, with 68 victims of extrajudicial killings and 26 enforced disappearances compared to 185 killings and 93 disappearances in 2006. However, militarization of rural and urban poor communities continues and victimizes the civilian population.

KARAPATAN attributes the lowered figures to the successful campaign to bring to international attention the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, the mounting pressure on Arroyo from the US Senate, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the diplomatic community and various local and international peoples' organizations and human rights groups.

The Arroyo regime is also under pressure this year as it prepares for the April 2008 Universal Periodic Review as a member of the UN Human Rights Council.

KARAPATAN documentation shows that from January 2001 up to October 31 this year, there are a total of 887 victims of extrajudicial killings, and 185 victims of enforced disappearances. Enriquez notes that among these cases, not a single perpetrator had been convicted and brought to jail.

"Even the remedial measure by the Supreme Court – the writ of amparo – is proving to be prone to be circumvented by the military. This has been shown by the pattern of several victims being coerced to declare that they wish to remain in custody of the military, effectively clearing the military of accountability in their abduction and
torture," Enriquez said.

Enriquez said that the climate of impunity on human rights violations and terror, as well as the dissent and unrest among the people, will continue under the Arroyo regime. "It is not enough to just change a policy; the source of this policy must be removed. Mrs. Gloria Arroyo must go," Enriquez said.