BULATLAT SPECIAL REPORT:
“All attempts at seeking justice are frustrated in every way. Aquino has deepened the roots of impunity.”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – After the killing of Dutch missionary Willem Geertman, Maria Aurora Santiago set out for a long fight for justice.
Amid surveillance and threats, Geertman’s fiancé filed the charges against the alleged perpetrators. More than three years later, only one of the alleged gunmen has been arrested – albeit on a different case – and the masterminds have not been identified.
Like the other high-profile cases of extrajudicial killings, the Philippine National Police formed a task force to solve the murder.
For Santiago, however, the task force and the so-called super body created by Aquino administration to solve the killings have been “useless.”
Santiago’s sentiment is shared by relatives of other victims of extrajudicial killings and human rights advocates. Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, said that in all of the cases of extrajudicial killings documented by the group, there has been no accountability.
“All attempts at seeking justice are frustrated in every way,” Palabay told Bulatlat.com in an interview. “Aquino has deepened the roots of impunity.”
Warrants out but no arrests
Palabay said in cases where warrants of arrest have been issued against the suspects, the police fail to enforce the arrest.
The Sept. 1 massacre in Lianga, Surigao del Sur is a case in point.
A local court in Lianga issued warrants of arrest against members of the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary group implicated in the murder of Manobo leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo and Emerito Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev). To this day, the warrant has yet to be served.
For the family and tribesmen of Jimmy Liguyon, the wait has been too long.
A warrant of arrest has been issued against the main suspect, Alde Salusad, since April 2012 but Salusad remains at large.
Liguyon was a vocal anti-mining leader who was gunned down inside his home in Purok 2, Barangay Dao, San Fernando, Bukidnon on March 5, 2012.
The same goes for the family of Fernando Baldomero, an activist and municipal councilor in Lezo, Aklan who was killed on July 5, 2010. He was the first victim of extrajudicial killing under the Aquino administration.
On his first State of the Nation Address, Aquino cited Baldomero’s case and vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice. Now that Aquino is about to step down from the presidency, Baldomero’s killers remain scot-free.
A warrant of arrest was issued in August 2010 against one of the suspects but the local court later archived the case due to the failure of the police to enforce the warrant.
Charges ‘watered down’
Palabay maintained that some of the charges filed against the perpetrators were “watered down.”
The case of botanist Leonard Co is an example.
Co and his companions Sofronio Cortez and Julius Borromeo were killed when elements of the 19th Infantry Battalion sprayed them with bullets on Nov. 15, 2010 in barangay Lim-ao in Kananga, Leyte.
In March 2013, the Department of Justice (DOJ) dismissed the murder charges filed by Co’s wife Glenda against nine soldiers of the Army’s 19th Infantry Battalion. The DOJ recommended the filing of reckless imprudence resulting to multiple homicide and attempted homicide and obstruction of justice against 27 military officials.
Following the DOJ resolution, the family has filed a petition for review seeking to elevate the case to murder. It has not been acted upon until now.
Higher-ups absolved from crimes
Kerlan Fanagel, chairperson of Lumad federation in Southern Mindanao Pasaka, decried the absence of justice for the victims of Capion massacre.
Soldiers of the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalions strafed the hut of Daguil Capion at Fayahlob, sitio Datal-Alyong , Danlag village, Tampakan town, Oct. 19, 2012. Daguil’s wife Juvy, who was two months pregnant, and their two sons Jorge, 13 and Jan-jan, seven years old, were killed.
In 2013, Office of the Provincial Prosecutor found no probable cause against soldiers Lt. Col. Alexis Bravo, Lt. Dante Jimenez and 14 members of the 27th