Gov’t not serious on anti-torture law — CHRA
By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Since the Anti-Torture Act (Republic Act 9745) was signed and enacted into law in 2009, it seems that it was just made for compliance sake and it was never seriously enacted at all said Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) Secretary General Jude Baggo.
Baggo, in an interview with the media on the observance of the United Nations International Day against Torture, said that the culture of impunity promoting human rights abuses such as torture still reigns under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III. On December 12, 1997, the UN General Assembly proclaimed June 26 the International Day in Support to Victims of Torture.
Ten years before that, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into force following its ratification. The Philippines is one of the countries who ratified it on June 18, 1986.
He added that known torturers and murderers like Jovito Palparan, a retired army general, remain at large.
Baggo said, Palparan is clearly implicated by torture survivor Raymund Manalo as the mastermind in the abduction and torturing of two University of the Philippines (UP) activist Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan. Empeño and Candapan were forcefully taken by alleged state agents on June 26, 2006. Baggo said that there are no information on the whereabouts and what happened to the two until Manalo, who was a victim of Palparan himself, surfaced and revealed the truth.
Six months ago, a Malolos Trial Court issued a warrant of arrest against Palparan. Baggo said that CHRA joins the national human rights alliance, Karapatan, and its regional chapters in marking June 26 through a nationally coordinated “search the camps for Palparan.” He said that they are also putting wanted Palparan posters on sidewalks and other public places. He added that these actions will pressure the Aquino administration to get serious at looking for and punishing the most notorious human rights violator in the country.
Baggo said that they are challenging the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to open their camps if they are telling the truth that they are not coddling the former military general who was named the butcher by activists. He said they are also not stopping on the call to surface political activist James Balao who was abducted by armed men claiming to be policemen on September 17, 2008 at La Trinidad, Benguet. “It has been three years since James was taken by state agents and the search continues,” said Baggo.
According to Baggo, it was over two years ago since the court issue a writ of amparo for the surface of Balao. He said that Balao is one of the many victims of enforced disappearance (ED) against people tagged as enemies of the state. “Until now, people are still being victimized by ED, extra-judicial killings, torture and other forms of human rights violations,” he continued.
He said that many were killed, disappeared, tortured and displaced among others through the Oplans Bantay Laya 1 and 2 of the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The sufferings of the people continue under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III through its Oplan Bayanihan. Baggo said they join the Filipino people in calling for the government to respect human rights instead of tagging the people as its enemies.
Meanwhile, Commission on Human Rights-Cordillera Administrative Region Regonal Director Harold Kub-aron claimed they have efforts in ensuring that human rights are respected in detention cells. According to him, CHR staff are visiting jails and inspecting the treatment of inmates. However, he said that it is only the Philippine National Police (PNP) that allows their prison facilities to be inspected. # nordis.net