DAVAO CITY – Filipino media and human rights groups described as arrogant the remarks of President Benigno Aquino before a Belgian audience on the state of the country’s human rights in the course of the government counterinsurgency campaign.
“These are themselves blanket statements.The general consensus among the Philippines and international human rights groups is that most cases of human rights violations are not investigated, much less prosecuted.,” Luis Teodoro, deputy director of Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) said.
Teodoro cited the 2014 Human Rights Watch Report which he said has argued that “the findings and conclusions of human rights groups are based on in-depth research and documentation.”
Teodoro reacted to Aquino’s reply to a question fielded by a Belgium national who asked that government’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan may have endangered the lives of some people.
Aquino’s reply carried by Filipino newspapers quoted him as saying that the statement was, “well, those are blanket statements and we don’t necessarily agree with them. It is not our policy to encourage or even abet any transgressions of the law. And towards that end, we have been investigating all of these allegations.”
The human rights group Karapatan in Southern Mindanao said the “arrogant statement of Aquino is a blatant disregard of accountability”.
“It seems that he is afraid of the truth that he is guilty and accountable for the worsening human rights violations in the country. He feared the truth that he is a successor of [former strongman, Ferdinand] Marcos for being a tyrant and fascist,” said Hanimay Suazo, regional secretary general of Karapatan-SMR.
“Oplan Bayanihan is nothing but a killing machine of government. It is a fact that they [government] must accept first before stating a recycled alibi and apparently the state of impunity continues because until now justice remains elusive to victims of human rights violations,” Suazo said.
The group said it documented 200 cases of extrajudicial killings in the country, of which 33 victims are from Southern Mindanao”.
Sheena Duazo of Bayan-SMR said Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan “is bloodstained with human rights violations comparable to Oplan Bantay Laya 1 & 2 of former President, and now Pampanga Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo”.
“Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan is clearly evident that it endangers the lives of the Filipino masses while paving way for the safety entrance of d few elites and foreign corporations to devour nation’s wealth,” Duazo stressed.
Karapatan’s Hanimay Suazo warned that the fate of upholding human rights is not going for better times, citing the recent transfer of detained retied Gen. Jovito Palparan to military custody as “indicative of government’s special treatment to human rights violators”.
“If it is not their policy, how human rights group will call it? A collaboration?,” Suazo asked.
On the other hand, the National Union of Journalist said Wednesday that Aquino’s latest remarks on media killings “expose a blatant disregard for justice.”
The NUJP reacted to another comment Aquino has said that not all media killings are work-related and may have been linked “to the ethics performed by a journalist”.
“This only buttresses our contention that Aquino cannot wash himself of the blood of those who have fallen under his watch and of those whose murders he continues to gloss over, for blaming the victims is tantamount to approval of the fate that befell them,” said NUJP in a statement. (davaotoday.com)