PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III should include in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday specific initiatives that will address the ongoing human rights violations in the country, a New York-based human rights group said.
In a letter addressed to Aquino dated July 17, Brad Adams, director of Asia Division of the Human Rights Watch, outlined specific measures that the President should undertake.
He said the Aquino government should end impunity for extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.
While the number of serious human rights violations by the military has significantly declined since Aquino assumed post in 2010, however, he said the victims of killing and enforced disappearances, which numbered in the hundreds in the previous decade, have not obtained justice and few perpetrators have been prosecuted.
"Despite your promises of reform and accountability, a damaging climate of impunity persists within the military and other state security forces," Adams said.
In order to end impunity for extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and other violations, he urged Aquino to commit in his Sona to direct the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to respect civilian immunity and not target civilians, including civil society activists, unionists, politicians and journalists.
Adams also asked Aquino to ensure prosecution of officials implicated in "death squad" killings.
"Your administration should investigate and hold accountable officials implicated in the hundreds of extrajudicial killings by assailants linked to the authorities in Davao City and other urban areas in recent years," he said.
Adams' group also urged the President to stop the abuses in mining areas and to disband local militias and paramilitary forces.
“President Aquino should use this State of the Nation speech to put meat on the bones of his human rights commitments by outlining specific measures to tackle ongoing human rights problems," he said. (SDR/Sunnex)