Human rights groups to P-Noy: Now Not Later is the Time to Act on Human Rights
On Torture
Tuesday, 09 August 2011 14:56

285913_242403295791197_100000645867734_814685_6695213_oPhoto by Medical Action Group

Human rights violations are spreading out from Central Luzon to Basilan, where cases of torture and extrajudicial killings have begun to pile up, President Benigno S. Aquino III should now act and take concrete steps to resolve the human rights violations attributed to state security forces in pursuance of internal security policies, and to free all political prisoners unconditionally, human rights groups and non-government organizations said.

“But with no clear-cut national human rights agenda, P-Noy has been contented in being a passive spectator, leaving the victims of human rights violations and their relatives on their own. This can only serve to throw the spotlight that P-Noy can be nearly exact in the same position as GMA if he chooses rhetoric over concrete actions on human rights,”Max M. de Mesa, Chairperson, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) said.

If we all have to go by to measure the effects of “matuwid na daan” is periodic boasting by P-Noy that “war on corruption is gaining ground” and peace effort is on the right track. We would like to know how. We do not see how the military’s so-called “paradigm shift” can pull this off, the human rights groups said.

“When one considers the horrible experience of innocent civilians like Abdul Khan Ajid Balanting in the hands of the Army’s 39th Scout Ranger Company on July 23 in Sumisip, Basilan, one must be doubtful about the justness of the said “paradigm shift”, Edeliza P. Hernandez, Executive Director of Medical Action Group (MAG) said.

Based on the medical documentation findings conducted by Dr. Benito E. Molino of MAG, Ajid was heavily tortured. He suffered first and second-degree burns in different parts of his body, including the head, face, private parts, abdomen, lower back and buttocks, among others.

Hernandez added that human rights organizations in Lamitan City are also assisting a 17-year old college student who has also been allegedly tortured by the military since his arrest on June 23.

“In Don Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan, 46-year-old farmer Nicanor Herrera Mariano from Sitio Suapong, was a victim of extrajudicial killing allegedly by members of the Army’s 56th Infantry Battalion. His 18-year-old son, Norman Esquibel Mariano, was severely injured due to the incident. This only attests that the climate of fear that hung over the country at the end of GMA’s term persists,” Ms. Joy Lascano, Deputy Executive Director of Balay Rehabilitation Center said.

No member of the military has been arrested for human rights violations perpetrated since Aquino took office, and no commanders have been actively investigated for their suspected involvement.

“We cite as an example the government’s failure to investigate allegations of torture by Lenin Salas et al. against PSupt. Madzgani Mukaram for violation of the Anti-Torture Act. The victims’ claim that they were tortured has been medically verified. But last July 21 the case was dismissed by Prosecutor Maria Gracella R. Dela Paz-Malapit for insufficiency of evidence,” Cesar Villarico, Defend-Central Luzon (CL) claimed.

P-Noy has not lifted a finger to look into the demands of political prisoners.  For sixteenth day, since the political prisoners at New Bilibid Prison (NBP) staged hunger strike for freedom and human rights to express their concerns over the government’s lack of national human rights agenda, the continuous neglect of the plight of political prisoners; and to push for prison reforms specifically for the government to reform the prison and correction system specifically to amend the Rules on Parole and Guidelines for Recommending Executive Clemency of the Board of Pardons and Parole, the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) said.

But if P-Noy did not do any of these in his “matuwid na daan”, we don’t know for what reasons. One thing can be said: his indecisiveness and his inability to deliver a bold statement on human rights and upholding humanitarian principles have abbreviated the life of Tatay Mariano Umbrero.

“One wonders in light of the military’s “paradigm shift” rather isn’t just all for show to draw away the attention of its criminal responsibility for the culture of impunity we are in. P-Noy should now act to prosecute members of the military and police implicated in human rights violations, and to pronounce a national human rights policy before it’s too late,” the human rights groups said.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 August 2011 15:02

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