It’s clear: Aquino administration still abetting impunity | Inquirer Opinion
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It’s clear: Aquino administration still abetting impunity

/ 10:38 PM April 04, 2012

Now it’s clear why extrajudicial killings are still committed with impunity in this benighted land of ours.

It is not just because of official apathy or inaction—although there is a surfeit of that. It’s more because government allows them to happen. Proof of this is Malacañang’s readiness to agree with Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo’s decision last March 28, a Wednesday, to grant former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and his brother Mario Jr., mayor of Coron, until the weekend to surrender despite the warrants issued for their arrest in connection with the murder of broadcaster Gerardo Ortega, in “deference to his (Reyes’) position as a former governor.”

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No, it does not matter that Palace mouthpiece Edwin Lacierda abruptly made a turnaround a few hours later and declared that the manhunt for the Reyes brothers was on. The issue here is how the administration so readily stood by the clearly illegal original decision of Robredo to grant the Reyes brothers a grace period instead of ordering their immediate arrest, no ifs, ands or buts, pursuant to law. What made matters worse was that Lacierda’s initial statement was issued a day after Reyes himself, in a recorded statement broadcast on radio, mocked justice and the very idea of government itself, spouting defiance and saying he would not surrender but would remain in hiding, “not to run away from justice but in order to avoid the persecution, ridicule and accusations that are being thrown at me without basis.”

This is no different from the defiance displayed by retired general Jovito Palparan—another former government official—with his refusal to surrender to stand trial for the disappearance of UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan. Where is Palparan now? Still nowhere to be found.

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How can Malacañang explain Robredo’s “deference” to a former governor, which contrasts so glaringly with the zeal it has displayed in going after former President Gloria Arroyo and incumbent Chief Justice Renato Corona?

The last time we looked, not even incumbent officials are shielded from arrest should they commit a crime, especially if it is a capital offense like murder.

We will not demand an explanation from Malacañang, for there simply can be no explanation, much less justification, for its countenancing a perversion of law and justice.

What we do demand is that Lacierda, a lawyer, face Ortega’s family—they who have fought long and hard to see that those accused of his murder face trial—and tell them why this accursed government believed “deference” to a former governor should be so important that it was willing to break the law and deny a good man justice.

And, yes, Lacierda should also face the families of all the victims of extrajudicial killings and tell them why they would be better off waiting in vain for this government to give them justice instead of seeking it elsewhere.

And government officials have the temerity to wonder why people rebel?

—NESTOR BURGOS, chair,

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National Union of Journalists of the Philippines,

[email protected]

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TAGS: Aquino administration, former Palawa Gov. Joel Reyes, Gerardo Ortega murder, impunity, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, Jovito Palparan, Media killings, President Benigno Aquino III
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