Karapatan has documented 40 victims of extrajudicial killings since Aquino took office, at a rate of one victim of extrajudicial killing per week. The group, together with other human rights advocates, will call the attention of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – A delegation of human rights advocates would fly all the way to Geneva, Switzerland to bring to the attention of the United Nations the continuing extrajudicial killings and other forms of human rights abuses under the new administration.
The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) will hold its 16th session this month. Created in March 2006, the UNHRC is an inter-governmental body within the UN system made up of 47 states responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe.
The delegation called as Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights in the Philippines (Ecumenical Voice) would be in Geneva from March 5 to 15. It is composed of Bishop Felixberto Calang of the Philippine Independent Church (Iglesia Filipina Independiente or IFI) and the Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao; Marie Hilao-Enriquez of Karapatan, Cristina Palabay of Tanggol Bayi (Defend Women-Association of Women Human Rights Defenders); Rey Cortez of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL); Girlie Padilla of the Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace (EMJP); and Rhonda Ramiro of the San Francisco Committee on Human Rights in the Philippines.
“The continuing violations of the rights of the Filipino people by state agents are a reason for us to be alarmed,” Enriquez, Karapatan chairwoman, said.
The group has documented 40 victims of extrajudicial killings since Aquino took office at a rate of one victim of extrajudicial killing per week. Just last week, three activists were gunned down in Albay and Davao del Sur.
Enriquez said they will particularly cite the killing of botanist Leonard Co and his companions. Witnesses said state agents were the ones who fired at Co and two others inside the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) complex in Kananga, Leyte on Nov. 15, 2010.
“Impunity still prevails in the country,” Enriquez said.
The human rights leader noted that many of the recommendations of former UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Prof. Philip Alston /tag/philip-alston/ have not been implemented.
Alston visited the country in February 2007 to investigate the spate of killings. In his report, Alston linked the extrajudicial killings to the counterinsurgency program of then Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration. He recommended the scrapping of the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya, among others.
With the continuing human rights violations, Karapatan made no difference between Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya and President Benigno S. Aquino III’s new internal security plan dubbed as Oplan Bayanihan.
One of the Morong 43 , Dr. Merry Mia Clamor also joined the delegation to file a complaint to the UN Special Rapporteur on torture. Clamor will also give an oral intervention about her ordeal before the UN Rights Council.
The Morong 43 are the 43 health workers arrested on Feb. 6, 2010 in Morong, Rizal. They were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives and were branded as members of the New People’s Army. Majority has been released in December last year. Two are still detained at Camp Bagong Diwa and five are held in a military camp in Capinpin, Rizal.
Enriquez said they will also bring the cases of threats and attacks against human rights defenders, the issues of internally displaced persons and victims of arbitrary detention to the Council.
The Ecumenical Voice’s visit to Geneva is also in preparation to the Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines (UPR) 2012. All UN member states are subjected to UPR once every four years. Each state must declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situation in their respective countries and to fulfill their human rights obligations.