Aquino rated 'zero' for failing to address human rights

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013


CAUSE-oriented groups rated President Benigno Simeon Aquino III ‘zero’ in dealing with the human rights situation in the country.

More than 3,000 people from Northern Mindanao trooped and marched in the Cagayan de Oro City Tuesday calling for justice for the victims of human rights violations and end the culture of impunity under Aquino’s administration.

“Was he able to send Alde ‘Butsoy’ Salusad behind bars?” asked Fr. Christopher Ablon, secretary-general of human rights group Karapatan-Northern Mindanao Region.

Salusad was tagged as the prime suspect in the killing of tribal leader Jimmy Liguyon who was murdered on March 5, 2012 in Barangay Dao, San Fernando, Bukidnon.

Randy, Liguyon’s son, said until now justice has not been served to his father.

Judge Josefina Gentiles Bacal penned on April 30, 2012 a warrant of Salusad’s arrest for the killing of Liguyon. However the police in San Fernando couldn’t serve the arrest warrant to Salusad fearing the latter’s armed group and the difficult terrain of his hideaway.

Datu Miguel from San Fernando Bukidnon told Sun*Star Cagayan de Oro that until today he is worried about the life of his relatives in Dao.

“They are experiencing extreme fear in the area,” Miguel said.

Miguel added that until today, justice has not been served to the victims of the Ampatuan massacre and to their families.

Ablon added, "under his (Aquino) regime, he was not able to stop or even halt the demolition in Lugait town, Misamis Oriental that displaced around 200 families including women and children."

“Palpak kaayo sa tanan! Dapat mo-resign na siya (He is a failure. He should resign),” said Ablon.

When asked how he would rate Aquino's handling on the human rights situation in the country, Ablon replied: "Zero!"

Lugait demolition

In a phone interview Monday, Gina Lubguban, vice-chairperson of Alyansa ng mga Biktima sa Demolisyon sa Calangahan (ALBIDEC) said they have nowhere else to go, but the countryside.

She added the demolition team which includes the police, should be protecting them and not the one implementing the demolition.

“They have become the guards of the rich people who violated us of our rights to decent living,” said Lubguban.

Lubguban added that in their struggle to defend their rights and dignity as a human being, one of their neighbors died confronting the demolition team.

Ablon added: “On December 4, Nixxon Tungao stood (his) ground and fought against the demolition up to his last breath.”

He said Tungao died from multiple gunshots that hit him “below his stomach” while braving against the dispersal backed by the police.

Killings in Opol

Eight days before the commemoration of the 65th year of United Nations Declaration of International human Rights Day (UNIHRD), Rolen Langala, an officer of IP group Pangalasag (shield) was shot in front of the public in Barangay Bagoboc, Opol town, the year-end report of Karapatan-NMR on the human rights situation in Northern Mindanao read.

The human rights report furthered that more than a year ago, Gilbert Paborada, chairman of Pangalasag, was murdered in broad daylight by two men on board a motorcycle in Barangay Puntod here.

Across the country

Ablon said Langala is the 35th IP killed in the country and the 6th environmentalist killed in Northern Mindanao.

He said Aquino should also be made accountable for the 152 victims of extrajudicial killings and 168 frustrated killings.

Ablon added that “168 frustrated killings and 18 enforced disappearances, 358 illegal arrests and detentions based on trumped up charges, tortures and other gross human rights violations” were committed under his watch.

Ablon, Lubguban, Miguel, and the rest of the participants called for the release of all victims of trumped-up charges, justice for the victims of extrajudicial killings, and to pull out Bayanihan Alert for Peace and Development teams in urban areas.

Political prisoners

Many political prisoners are also languishing in various jails in the country today. Many of them have been incarcerated for years without charges being filed against them.

Jerry Orcullo, chair of Samahang Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda), urged the Aquino administration to resume peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

“Resuming peace negotiations with the NDFP will be the government’s act of goodwill and sincerity. The government should release one of its consultants, Alfredo ‘Ka Paris’ Mapano, who has been detained for about four years now and celebrated his 60th birthday at Misamis Oriental Provincial Jail (MOPJ) on November 24,” Orcullo said.

He added that Mapano deserves to spend the remaining years of his life with his family. “There is no greatest gift than freedom,” Orcullo said.

Vicente Libona, another political prisoner who is languishing at MOPJ, has been incarcerated for more than five years. But for a year, Libona stayed at the jail without charges. Recently, a witness suddenly surfaced and pointed at him for raiding a military outpost in Misamis Oriental.

“My rights have been violated. For more than a year I was in jail without charges. The government is so inept in moving cases faster,” he said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 11, 2013.

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