‘We have no political prisoners’
Photos by Selda
We need to have a better definition of terms and perhaps a clearer term of reference on human rights. With respect to this administration, I think we do not have a policy on human rights violations. Proof possibly of this is the appointment of Etta Rosales who is herself a victim of human rights abuse. She was a victim of torture under the Marcos regime. So, I think that’s very, very clear that we frown on human rights violations.
With respect, however, to those people who are calling for – and let me just answer those concerns on political prisoners – I think, again, there’s a question on terms of reference here. In fact, in the peace negotiation, that’s one of those things being discussed. I understand from Undersecretary Alex Padilla (government lead negotiator) that we have endeavored to discuss these things under the Jasig list. [Jasig refers to the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees that the Philippine government has entered with the National Democratic Front, political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines.]
Unfortunately, when the Jasig list was opened, there were only aliases and no pictures. So there was no way of decrypting the diskette on that particular list. So we… To our knowledge, we have no political prisoners and I think, again, this is a question of terms of reference.
With respect to extralegal killings, again, we do not have a policy on extralegal killings. Sorry, we frown on extralegal killings and, so far, under this administration there have been 10 extralegal killings that have happened and so they are all under investigation.
Some of them have already been filed in court – the latest, I believe, is Marlina Sumera and I think that is… it’s been assigned to an investigating prosecutor for preliminary investigation.
(Lacierda is the spokesperson of President Aquino. This was his reply when asked on Sept. 21, the 39th anniversary of the declaration of martial, about changes in the human rights situation. The question was, ‘Can we get your observation on what have been the substantial changes insofar as the human right situation in the country is concerned?’)
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