BY ATTY. CARLOS ISAGANI ZARATE
Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 11, April 20-26, 2008
Self-serving and illusory is how we see the government’s report to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). It suppresses the real picture of the culture of impunity happening in the Philippines and in Mindanao.
The report even fails to mention the legal achievements such as the writ of amparo and writ of habeas data because it obviously scores against the military for its penchant to impinge on human rights.
In truth, abductions, military operations and harassments under the government’s Oplan Bantay Laya 2 and all-out war continue to wreak havoc on the lives of lumads, Moro, activists, and other civilians in Mindanao.
Abductions such as that of church worker Ruel Muñasque in Pagadian, and of Luisito Bustamante in Paquibato last year shows the military’s whims to tag and torture civilians as suspected NPA guerillas. Worse, a 19-year-old girl in Toril, Davao City has complained that an army lieutenant sexually harassed her during interrogation. Elsewhere in Mindanao, there are continuing cases of dislocation of lumads in Diatagon, Surigao del Sur and in Baganga, Davao Oriental because of military operations. Eight Moro civilians, including a pregnant woman were killed in an alleged counter-terror operation in Sulu last January.
None of these incidents, along with the 902 extrajudicial killings and 82 cases of enforced disappearances, are mentioned in the report of Exec Sec. Eduardo Ermita. Nothing in the report has said about the government taking steps to prosecute, investigate or bring these perpetrators of human rights violations to justice.
Until now, victims, families and survivors of the government’s Oplan Bantay Laya cry for justice. The government’s report, filled with self-serving words, only turns a blind eye on their pain and suffering.
The UPLM continues to hold the Arroyo government accountable for the continuing violation of human rights in Mindanao and elsewhere the country. We join fellow human rights advocates and groups to call on the UNHRC to critically look into the human rights situation in the country and hold the Arroyo government accountable for failing to fulfill its obligations
The Philippine human rights situation is not a bed of roses as Ermita would like the world to believe. No matter how he paints this rosy picture, the whole world knows who killed activists and civilians this summer and the summers past under the Arroyo regime. Posted by (Bulatlat.com)