Extrajudicial killings, torture still persist

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012


THE clamor for justice, peace and democracy continues as Amnesty International (AI) reported the persistence of extrajudicial killings, torture, enforced disappearances and internal armed conflicts in the country, especially in Mindanao.

Ritzlee Santos III, chairperson of AI’s Board of Trustees, said based on AI’s 2012 annual state of human rights cases in the country, documented cases during the 21-year rule of the late President Ferdinand Marcos were only 875 compared to the 945 cases recorded in the 25 years after the 1986 peaceful revolt.

Santos said leaders lack the will to address threats to justice and accountability as impunity for past violations haunted many countries, particularly those grappling with current and past armed conflicts.

“In the Asia Pacific region, several governments responded with repressive measures to people’s protests and voices of dissent,” he said during a forum held at the Philippine Information Agency on Tuesday.

However, Santos said AI also noted a reduction of hostilities after the government and the two armed opposition groups, the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), began peace talks in February 2011.

He said increase in hostilities only occurred after clashes broke out towards the end of last year when government soldiers and MILF in Basilan province engaged in a war, killing 19 soldiers.

Santos said the government’s failure to enact laws added problems to enhance accountability.

In a report, human rights situation in the country has not improved since violations committed by the previous government under former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo have not been addressed.

The Philippines was reviewed last month for the second cycle of the United Nation’s Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

Santos said the UPR will review the national report of the Philippine government and measure it against its pledges and commitments during the 1st cycle of the UPR and when it applied for membership in the UN Human Rights Council.

Meanwhile, Major Aldrich Uayan, Division Staff Judge Associate of the Fourth Infantry Division based in Cagayan de Oro, said human rights issue is the source of concerns of soldiers since they are always the focus of scrutiny and criticisms.

Uayan said based on their mandate, they are obliged to follow the people-centered approach, which focuses mainly on upholding the human rights of the civilians.

“It is our duty to enforce human rights to all as it is in our sworn obligation to adhere to it,” he said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 04, 2012.

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