June 28, 2010 in Featured
By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — The militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance or BAYAN) said the impending appointment of the current chair of the Commission of Human Rights Leila de Lima is a positive development.
Bayan Secretary General Renato M Reyes Jr said de Lima has made important contributions in advancing human rights in the Philippines. Reyes said the CHR chair’s achievements are more than the combined performances of the three previous justice secretaries Raul Gonzales, Agnes Devanadera and Alberto Agra.
He said the said secretaries have in fact caused setbacks for the cause of human rights during their terms.
According to Bayan, the Department of Justice has been instrumental in persecuting critics of the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The group said this is evident in the case of the 2006 rebellion charges against 50 persons including representatives of progressive partylists and activists and leaders. Because of this, labor leader and Anakpawis partylist representative Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran had to be hospitalized at the Heart Center and the three other representatives “confined” at the Batasang Pambansa.
The said rebellion charges were dismissed by the Supreme Court in a strongly worded-decision.
It must also be remembered that Secretary Agra issued a decision in dropping murder charges against the two principal suspects in the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre in Maguindanao. The decision earned public outrage prompting it to be reversed.
Reyes said that with De Lima’s appointment, there will be an oppurtunity that the cases of many political prisoners who were persecuted under the Arroyo administration’s war against her critics and activists and progressive leaders will be reviewed.
Reyes cited the case of the Morong 43 who were illegally arrested and detained. The 43 health workers were arraigned by the DOJ despite many loopholes of their arrest.
“If de Lima brings the same grit and determination to defend human rights to the DOJ, then that would be a truly positive development, a far cry from the DOJ we have seen for the last nine years,” added Reyes. The group also demanded that the violators of human rights should be tried.
De Lima led the investigation of the abduction and torture of alleged military agents of Filipino-American activist Melissa Roxas, the Ampatuan massacre, the military’s listing and using orders of battle against militants and the illegal arrest of 43 health workers in Morong, Rizal.
Reyes said they hope that it is not just corruption that de Lima will take on, but also the many cases of human rights abuses that continue to cry out for justice.
Reyes said De Lima faces a big challenge with her new job but her track record in the CHR has gained her many supporters. # nordis.net