BY ANNA KRISTINA P. VIRTUSIO
Human rights groups condemned the Arroyo administration for ignoring the latest report of the United Nations special rapporteur Philip Alston on extrajudicial killings in the country.
In a press conference in Diliman, Quezon City today, Karapatan stated that by ignoring Alston’s report, the Arroyo government is denying the existence of human rights violations committed by its security forces. Hustisya, on the other hand, called on the government to go after the real perpetrators and stop its “grandstanding.”
Hustisya is an organization of the families of victims of political killings.
“The statements made by Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez in reaction 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,” said Marie Hilao- Enriquez, secretary-general of Karapatan.
In an ambush interview in Malacanang on Sunday, Justice Secretary Gonzalez told reporters to ignore a “barking dog” referring to Alston and his follow-up report.
In February 2007, Alston investigated the state of human rights violations in the country, including extrajudicial killings, torture and enforced disappearances.
Seeking for justice
Meanwhile, Raymond Manalo, a farmer and survivor of torture by state security forces said that he was shocked that the government boasts of taking “bold moves” to address the killings while one of his tormentors was given a seat in Congress.
“Hindi ‘bold move’ ang ginawa ng gobyerno dahil hindi pa rin ako nabigyan ng hustisya,” said Manalo in a press conference. (What the government did was not a ‘bold move’ because I was not yet given justice.) Lalo pong hindi maganda ang ginawa nilang pagproklama kay Jovito Palparan (bilang kongresista), he added. (What was worse was when the government proclaimed Jovito Palparan as congressman.)
Palparan has been tagged as “The Butcher” for the trail of blood he left in places where he was assigned.
Manalo had just returned home from the attending a session of the UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) held in Geneva, Switzerland on April 27, when he heard of the P25 million peso reward offered by the administration. The reward was made purportedly to curb extrajudicial killings in the country and as a reaction to Alston’s latest report.
“Hindi po ako na nanghihingi ng pera, kundi ang hinihingi ko po ay hustisya para sa nangyari sa akin at sa iba pang biktima dahil hindi matutumbasan ng pera ang ginawa sa akin,” said Manalo. (I am not asking for money, but for justice for what was done to me and to other victims (of violations against human rights), because money cannot compensate for what was done to me.)
“Numbers would be the indicator for the government to say that they have ended the insurgency, which is very dangerous because it is a signal from GMA encouraging the culture of impunity,” said Hilao-Enriquez.
To date, Karapatan has already documented 17 cases of killings in the country in the first quarter of 2009. The groups attributed the cases of extrajudicial killings, torture and enforced disappearances to the counter-insurgency program of the government. (Bulatlat)