November 29, 2007
International Women Human Rights Defenders Day
Arroyo should stop OBL II now
Human rights advocates and victims of human rights violations and their families today paid tribute to martyred women human rights workers, activist and leaders, as they hold the Arroyo regime accountable for the extrajudicial killings and disappearances and the continuing harassments and intimidations against their ranks.
“President Gloria Arroyo should heed the recommendations of Prof. Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions, and immediately stop the counter-insurgency program, Oplan Bantay Laya II of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said Jigs Clamor, deputy secretary general of the Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights (KARAPATAN).
Karapatan and victims’ organizations held a symbolic tribute to women martyrs at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City to commemorate the International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, and to show their vigilance and defiance against threats and harassments among the ranks of rights defenders perpetrated by regular state security agents.
Clamor said continued inaction by Arroyo on the rights abuses perpetrated by state security forces could mean criminal liability under international humanitarian laws. “She maybe immune from suit under Philippine laws, but she will one day be made accountable under international laws,” Clamor said.
The Karapatan official also lauded Alston’s final report on the Philippines, saying it has added a strong voice to the calls for Arroyo to make an accounting of her human rights record.
Alston had attributed the extrajudicial killings to the Armed Forces of the Philippines as part of its counterinsurgency program. Among his recommendations were the abolition of the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group which had been designing the filing of trumped-up cases against partylist representatives, the operationalization of the Joint Monitoring Committee of the government and the National Democratic Front for the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), better witness protection program, and the conviction of the perpetrators of the killings.
“As we remember and honor our fallen women comrades who became victims of state repression, we vow to keep them as our inspiration as we carry on the struggle,” said Clamor.
Eden Marcellana was the secretary-general of KARAPATAN Southern Tagalog who was abducted and summarily executed along with peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy while on a fact-finding mission in Mindoro in 2003.
Clamor said that from 2001 up to this November, KARAPATAN has documented a total number of 395 cases of extrajudicial killings and 63 cases of enforced disappearance of women human rights defenders.
“Many of our comrades have been subjected to murder, death threats, torture and silenced through the Arroyo regime’s anti-insurgency program. This is why on this occasion we celebrate the courage of our women as they struggle for life, rights and humanity,” Clamor added.