Church People decry grave human rights score

Jun. 02, 2012

Press Statement
30 May 2012

Church People decry grave human rights score

The Promotion of Church People’s Response under the Philippine UPR Watch is one with human rights defenders and victims in trumpeting the score of human rights record under the Aquino administration to the United Nation’s Human Rights Council.  The Philippines, for the second time, went under the lens during the Universal Periodic Review, a UN mechanism that reviews UN member states of their commitments to uphold and protect human rights.

“Philippine UPR Watch belies the Aquino government’s report as it missed the mark to render justice to victims of human rights violations during the Arroyo administration and put an end to the same spate of extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture and displacements of communities and other violations pervading with impunity,” Nardy Sabino, PCPR General Secretary, said.  He further stressed that as the world listened to the human rights record as reported in the UN, the Filipino people can fathom where the priorities lie with this administration.

PCPR noted that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has not been made accountable yet on the many human rights violations under her term.  To date, Gen. Jovito Palparan evades the wheel of justice and remains at large.  Will the political killings of Fr. Cecilio Lucero, Fr. Fausto Tentorio (Roman Catholic), Rev. Filomino Catambis, Rabenio Sungit, Jimmy Liguyon (UCCP), Bro. Benjamin Bayles and Jovelito Agustin (Iglesia Filipina Independiente) be left in the abyss of the many unresolved cases despite the Philippine government participation in the UN UPR?  Where are the perpetuators and their masterminds?  Where are the desaparacidos?  Where is justice and security in our land? These are the resounding questions of victims, their families and many human rights advocates and the same questions that fall on deaf ears in the halls of Malacaňang.  Apparently, the Aquino administration is no different from its predecessor on the issue of peace and human rights.

While the Aquino delegation brought to the international community another round of rhetoric and lip-service, another telling event unfolds at the ground.  Sr. Stella Matutina, OSB, a human rights and environmental advocate was openly vilified as a member of NPA putting her life at risk as target of state security forces.  This experience mirrors that of many other church people who have suffered and is still suffering harassment and persecution in doing their service to the community.

“This is another chilling pronouncement within the Aquino’s internal peace and security plan Oplan Bayanihan, reminiscent to that of his predecessor’s anti-insurgency program, Oplan Bantay Laya.  There is no law from heaven or on earth that a religious must disassociate oneself to the ministry of loving the patrimony and pursing the cause of human rights.  Mission is an integral part of being a church.  Is doing mission to God’s people now pose a threat, a domestic security concern of the state?” lamented Sabino.

In another incident, no less than Col. Domingo Tutaan, head of the AFP Human Rights Office, puts this administration under fire when he proudly announced that it has zero human-rights-violation cases in the first quarter of 2012.  While he spoke, thousands of indigenous people in the Caraga region are displaced from their ancestral land due to intense militarization and continuous aerial bombing suspected by the people to pave way for mining operations.  Bereft of the government’s prompt action and denial of their current plight, our Lumad brothers and sisters are left to tend on their own for food, shelter and health needs.

“It is high time that the Aquino administration puts its resources in resolving cases of human rights violations and ensures that justice is served.  Its report should serve the victims primarily and not muffle the cries and agonies of the people nor likened to a fictional literature that glosses over the real rights score at the ground.  Ultimately, its accountability lies to the Filipino people longing to exercise its full human potential.  To do nothing would be tantamount to condoning the violations as if it’s a policy,” Sabino concluded.

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