Rights group hits new set of prosecutors for human rights abuses-A A +A
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
SPECIAL investigation teams recently formed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to handle cases of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture were met with opposition by a rights group on Tuesday.
In a text message, Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said the panels are just “another layer of bureaucracy.”
“This supposed panel of prosecutors on human rights violations is another layer in the bureaucracy that the Aquino administration has put up—nothing more than a stunt to make it appear that they are doing something on human rights. Whatever happened to the regular prosecutorial functions of the DOJ in handling cases as these,” she said.
The teams composed of prosecutors will build cases against alleged human rights violators, according to Department Order 726 signed by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on September 30.
A special oversight team was also formed to monitor the actions of the investigating teams. Members of the oversight panel include prosecutors, representatives from the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Named members to the special oversight team for new and current human rights cases were Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong and Assistant State Prosecutor Bernardo Fernandez while Assistant Prosecutors Gino Paolo Santiago at Niven Canlapan will look into the unresolved cases lodged before the inter-agency committee created under President Benigno Aquino III's Administrative Order 35 issued last November 2012.
For his part, rights lawyer Edre Olalia said the panels’ work should be based on a thorough and credible investigation.
This should result in sustained prosecutions and certain convictions up to the highest levels of government to avoid the “plague of impunity,” he said.
“In the long term though, what is decisive is to change fundamentally the political and socio-economic structures that trigger resistance and struggle of the victims, which in turn are met by further routine violations of civil and political right,” Olalia told Sun.Star.
Olalia, who is the secretary general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), defended the so-called “Morong 43” health workers who were detained for 10 months in 2010 after they were suspected as communist rebels.
Rights group Karapatan has documented 153 extrajudicial killings since Aquino took power in June 2010. (Sunnex)