March 23, 2010 in Featured
By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan or Bayan scored the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo by saying that it brought again shame to the country after the United States Department released its 2009 human rights report on the Philippines.
According to the report posted on the website, the arbitrary, unlawful and extrajudicial killings and political killings, including killings of journalists by elements of the security services and by a variety of actors continued to be major problems.
“Concerns about impunity persisted. Members of the security services committed acts of physical and psychological abuse on suspects and detainees, and there were instances of torture. Prisoners awaiting trial and those already convicted were often held under primitive conditions.”
Disappearances occurred, and arbitrary or warrantless arrests and detentions were common. Trials were delayed, and procedures were prolonged. Corruption was endemic.
Problems such as violence against women, abuse of children, child prostitution, trafficking in persons, child labor, and ineffective enforcement of worker rights were common,” the report stated further.
According also to the report, during the previous year, the members of the security services committed acts of physical and psychological abuse on suspects and detainees. The report also said that leftist and human rights activists often were subjected to harassment by local security forces.
Recently, Malacañang claimed they are encouraged by the report. But Bayan Secretary General Renato M. Reyes Jr said that the report put the country in shame. He said it is ridiculous that the Arroyo apologists are struggling to put a positive spin to it. “It is clear that the rights abuses committed by state security forces persist under the Arroyo administration. How can Malacanang be encouraged over that?”Reyes, Jr. asked.
Reyes said the palace is trying to downplay the impact of the report by saying that the rights abuses were only individual cases. He said that the Malacañang wanted it to appear that these are unrelated, isolated cases that do not follow a pattern of abuse perpetrated by state forces.
President Arroyo’s spokesperson Ricardo Saludo earlier expressed that the palace was elated by the positive assessment they got from the report on its so-called handling of human rights cases. Saludo said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are tasked to submit a report on the status of the individual cases mentioned in the report.
Reyes however said that one cannot window-dress a damning report. “It is what it is. Human rights abuses and a climate of impunity persist under the Arroyo regime,” said Reyes.
The report mentioned the abduction of Filipino-American Melissa Roxas by suspected military elements. Roxas was later granted a writ of amparo by the Court of Appeals.
The report also cited the killings of Rebelyn Pitao, environmental activist Eleazar “Boy” Billanes and peasant leader Fermin Lorcio as some of the cases of extrajudicial killings that were committed in 2009.
The report earlier reaffirmed the claims of militant and progressive groups that the Arroyo administration has been targetting activists.
Bayan called on the US government to be true to its report and stop providing military aid to the Arroyo government.. Reyes said that the US State Department report affirms what many groups have been saying all along that the human rights situation is not at all well in the Philippines contrary to what the government claims. “The situation is so bad even the US can’t ignore it,” said Reyes.
Reyes said that if despite the report that the US military aid continues to increase then the US clearly is directly supporting human rights abuses here in the country.# nordis.net