AI: Rights abuses persist under Aquino

Published by rudy Date posted on May 14, 2011

Human rights abuses persist under the administration of President Aquino while hundreds of cases of rights violations committed under the previous administration remain unresolved, London-based Amnesty International (AI) said in its latest Report 2011.

Amnesty International Philippines director Aurora Parong said extrajudicial executions by security forces and armed groups belonging to political clans continue with impunity.

She added almost no perpetrators of more than 200 cases of disappearances and at least 305 extrajudicial killings during the term of former President Arroyo have been brought to justice.

The report noted that at least 305 cases of extrajudicial execution (with some estimates ranging as high as 1,200) also remain unresolved.

“Private armed groups continued to operate throughout the country despite government commitments to disband and disarm them,” the report added.

It said that despite a 2010 deadline, the previous administration failed to “crush” the communist insurgency, and in August the new Aquino administration announced that counter-insurgency operations would be extended.

“Tens of thousands reportedly remained displaced in Mindanao two years after the end of the internal armed conflict, although the actual number was not known,” according to AI.

It said the resumption of peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) remained delayed while peace talks remained elusive between the government and the communist New People’s Army (NPA).

“Hundreds of cases of extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances from the last decade remained unresolved and perpetrators were not brought to justice. Almost none of the victims’ families received reparations. At least 38 alleged political killings were reported during the year,” the report said.

It added that at least six journalists were reportedly killed in 2010. In the course of a single week in June, radio reporters Desiderio Camangyan (Mati City, southern Philippines) and Joselito Agustin (Laoag City, northern Philippines), and print journalist Nestor Bedolido (Digos City, southern Philippines) were shot dead.

“In September, the trial of the suspected perpetrators of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre began after significant delays. Fifty-seven people, including 32 journalists, were killed in the massacre, which took place in the run-up to national elections,” it said.

It noted at least 83 suspects were arrested and charged, including at least 16 policemen and members of the powerful political Ampatuan family.

“One hundred and thirteen suspects in the massacre remained at large,” the report said.

It cited Suwaid Upham, who was allegedly one of the gunmen during the massacre, who came forward in March and was willing to testify in court as a possible witness.

“However, in June he was shot dead. Reportedly, despite efforts on his part, he had been unable to enrol in the Witness Protection Program. Two suspects were arrested in connection with his murder,” AI said.

It also cited reports from the Philippine National Police (PNP) on 117 private armed groups in February and that of the Independent Commission Against Private Armies (ICAPA) about the existence of at least 72 active private armed groups in the country, and another 35 already dismantled by the police and military.

The AI said members of government-established, armed “force multipliers” such as Civilian Volunteer Organizations (CVOs), police auxiliary units, and the Citizens’ Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) were mostly also members of private armed groups.

It noted that a former army general and member of the ICAPA told media that local officials often used these volunteer groups and auxiliary units as private armies.

Last November, it said Aquino vowed that he would disband and disarm identified private armed groups, but refused to abolish CVOs, the CAFGU and police auxiliary units, saying that they needed to be professionalized instead.

“The Armed Forces stated that it needed to increase the number of CAFGUs. In the wake of the Maguindanao massacre, the police said it had suspended recruitment for police auxiliary units,” it added.

It also cited a report of the Commission on Human Rights last February that it had recorded 777 cases of extrajudicial executions and 251 cases of enforced disappearance since 2001.

Last September, human rights group Karapatan recorded 1,206 extrajudicial executions and 206 victims of enforced disappearance during the same period.

A report published in September, commissioned by the United States Agency for International Development and non-government organization the Asia Foundation recorded 305 cases of extrajudicial executions with 390 victims from 2001 to 2010.

The AI added the same report stated that only one per cent of reported cases resulted in a conviction, and that members of the armed forces were implicated in 20 per cent of cases.

“Civilians continued to be killed as the military’s counter-insurgency plan failed to differentiate between civilians and members of the NPA,” the AI said.

In some cases, the police or the military claimed that the deaths occurred during “legitimate encounters”.

The AI noted that last November, botanist Leonardo Co and two other members of his team were shot dead in Leyte while collecting indigenous tree species.

“Military officials claimed that they were caught in the crossfire between the army and the NPA. However, a surviving member of the botanist’s team denied this,” it added. –Daily Tribune

Month – Workers’ month

“Hot for workers rights!”

 

Continuing
Solidarity with CTU Myanmar,
trade unions around the world,
for democracy in Myanmar,
with the daily protests of
people in Myanmar against
the military coup and
continuing oppression.

 

Accept National Unity Government
(NUG) of Myanmar.
Reject Military!

#WearMask #WashHands
#Distancing
#TakePicturesVideos

Time to support & empower survivors.
Time to spark a global conversation.
Time for #GenerationEquality to #orangetheworld!
Trade Union Solidarity Campaigns
Get Email from NTUC
Article Categories