The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) recently reported that no “branch of the military service has been involved in any instance of human rights violations (HRV) during the first four months of 2012,” and dismissed 84 HRV cases filed with the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) as baseless accusations.
This pronouncement came a few days after the killing of two activists Frederico Trangria in Compostella Valley and Margarito Cabal in Bukidnon, and two weeks before the Philippine government goes through the second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Trangria was outspoken and strongly opposed to the mineral processing zone which affects the Mainit National Park home to the Philippine civet, the Philippine turtle and endangered green winged ground dove.
Cabal on the other hand, staunchly protested against the Hydro-electric Mega Dam Project along the Pulangi River that would affect 22 barangays of Bukidnon and North Cotabato.
Karapatan, the national alliance of human rights groups has recorded 14 cases of extra-judicial killings under this Aquino administration.
In the Cordillera alone, the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) reports of the continuing militarization of indigenous communities particularly in Abra, Kalinga and Benguet. And, the continuing human rights violations that include vilification, rape and violations to the Comprehensive Agreement for the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) particularly of the continuing practice of military elements of setting camp in civilian communities, in public facilities and even inside civilian homes, and the use of civilians as guides in their military operations.
Reports of the various rights groups belonging to the Philippine UPR Watch reveal the sorry state of human rights in the country under former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo continues to the present administration. The wanton disregard and violation of the people’s rights remain unabated since the Arroyo government’s Oplan Bantay Laya to Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan of today.
In his report in 2008 on extra judicial killings in the country, former UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Philip Alston said that the Philippine military was in denial. And just as the violations of the people’s rights continue the AFP continues to be in a state of denial. An end to the culture of impunity could begin with the fair, impartial and thorough investigation of the involvement of its erring officers and soldiers, and bring them to justice instead of promoting them or cuddling them in their camps.
The recent pronouncements of “zero violations” is a futile attempt to cover up the Philippine government’s failure to fulfill its obligations, honor its human rights treaties, and the recommendations from the first UPR in 2008. Documented cases and reports from the ground show that the killings, disappearances, vilification and other forms of human rights violations continues with impunity to deny justice for the victims, their survivors, and their communities. # nordis.net