By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — According to Katribu Partylist President Beverly Longid, 69 countries are questioning the Philippine government’s action in addressing the prevailing culture of impunity and the continuous extra-judicial killings (EJK), torture, enforced disappearances (ED) and the existence of para-military groups under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.
During the May 24 meeting with various diplomats representing permanent missions in the United Nations (U.N.), the Philippine Universal Periodic Review Watch (Philippine UPR Watch) delegation, which included Longid, presented cases of human rights violations brought about by militarization and vilification coming along with the destructive mining and other development projects. The Philippine UPR Watch is composed of human rights and faith-based organizations, peoples organizations and institutions in the country.
Longid said that based on the reports, the country representatives gave recommendations to the Philippine government to seriously address the human rights situation. She added that the representatives urged the Philippine government to conduct impartial and thorough investigations on extra-judicial cases.
She said however that it is unfortunate that few countries mentioned concerns on the indigenous peoples (IP). Mexico, one of the exemptions, raised the issue of the encroachment of large scale mining corporations in IP lands.
According to Longid, the Philippines caught the attention of the international community because of the gravity of the human rights situation and 69 countries have issued statements-of-concern regarding this. Furthermore, the international community is closely monitoring the situation. She hopes that the international pressure would push the Philippine government to seriously address the issue of human rights.
These statements-of-concern, she added, also belie the claim of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) of zero human rights violation within the first four months of 2012.
Longid said another cause for concern is the attempt of the AFP and the Philippine government to redefine human rights violations such as EJK and enforced disappearances. She cited the claim of the AFP and of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, the head of the Philippine government’s delegation, that there are no convictions meaning there are no violations.
Longid added that most of the victims of HRVs opted not to file cases because of various reasons ranging from financial constraint to the fear of possible retaliations from the perpetrators.
She said the government delegation did not mention anything on the government’s counter-insurgency program wherein members of legitimate organizations and ordinary citizens are tagged as reds or communists making them vulnerable to HRVs.
Longid challenged the government to invite UN Special Rapporteurs on HR defenders, EJK and ED. “This should not be a problem for the government if indeed there is a zero HRVs,” she said.
Another accomplishment of the Philippine UPR Watch, according to Longid, is that they were able to get the interest of the Vice Chairman of the subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament to look into the issues of Philippine IPs, the Moro people and children. # nordis.net