Signal from Palace abets abuses
EDITA BURGOS, mother of enforced disappearance victim Jonas, has a very serious concern about Malacañang’s branding of human rights violations as “leftist propaganda.” “I fear that the message relayed in such blatant act by authorities can be a justification for human rights violators to continue their abuses,” she said.
The Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA) also takes exception to the Office of the President’s statement that our “views resemble misinformation commonly being disseminated by a number of individuals and organizations with ties to extreme leftist elements in the Philippines”; this according to Ramon A. Carandang, secretary of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office in Manila, in response to a PSNA article in The New Zealand Herald. The PSNA had urged Prime Minister John Key to raise the issue of human rights in the Philippines and challenge President Aquino to make the country an “actual” democracy” (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10842516).
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, World Council of Churches, international media and other reputable institutions/individuals have raised concern over the continuing human rights abuses under the more than two years of the Aquino presidency. It’s not only the “extreme Left” that is critical of unabated killings under Mr. Aquino’s watch.
One of the Herald’s reader commented: “Despite the assertion of Mr. Carandang, criticism of the Aquino administration’s response to extrajudicial killings has not just come from the ‘extreme left.’ Human Rights Watch has announced its disappointment that no soldiers or police responsible for killings and torture of civilians have been successfully prosecuted yet, even though Aquino has been in power for two and a half years. Last year the President also made a directive allowing mining firms to employ paramilitary forces. Amnesty International has called for these paramilitaries to be disbanded because they have engaged in human rights abuses against local residents. Many people would take President Aquino’s commitment to human rights more seriously if there were some successful prosecutions of those soldiers who had killed and tortured civilians, and the directive allowing mining companies to employ private armies was reversed.”
The Philippine government will continue to be monitored by the United Nations and other international human rights groups that do not belong to the “extreme left.” It better take steps to truly deliver justice for the human rights victims and refrain from red-baiting in a vain attempt to cover up its failure to end impunity.
—MURRAY HORTON, secretary, Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA), Box 2450 Christchurch, New Zealand, [email protected]
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