Activists launch protest action in M’canang

MEMBERS of Bayan-Southern Tagalog stormed Gate 7 of Malacanang today to condemn the rampant human rights abuses committed by state forces against members of progressive groups and innocent civilians, as well as the government’s failure to address the culture of impunity that “makes justice elusive for rights abuse victims.”

“After two years in power, the Aquino administration lied in his promise to put an end to human rights violations and bring justice to the victims,” Leo Fuentes, Bayan-Southern Tagalog Secretary-General, said.

Rights group Karapatan has documented at least 79 cases of extrajudicial killing, nine cases of enforced disappearances, 62 cases of torture, 195 cases of illegal arrest and detention, and more than 20,000 cases of forced evacuation, harassment and indiscriminate firing from July 2010 to March 2012.

Recently, the international community called on the Aquino government on its human rights record when the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council expressed alarm over the unabated extrajudicial killings in the country.

The New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch also claimed that the Aquino administration failed to make good on its promise two years ago to “bring those responsible for serious abuses to justice”.

“What it delivered are truncheons and bullets aimed at the people who oppose government policies which drowns them in further misery and poverty,” Fuentes said.

He cited the arrest July 3, 2010 of 42 protesters who were camping out to challenge the Aquino administration to implement a genuine agrarian reform program, as well as the violent dispersal of protesters last October 6 and 7, 2010.

“What is worse is that the main perpetrators and accomplices of human rights violations are military, paramilitary and police elements. Under the government’s counterinsurgency program, several areas in the countryside, where majority of rights abuses are committed against legitimate people’s groups and innocent civilians, are heavily-militarized,” Fuentes added.

He said that in South Quezon and Bondoc Peninsula, where allegedly around eight battalions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and paramilitary forces are currently deployed, human rights abuses continue to escalate.

“We have documented at least 128 cases of human rights violation in South Quezon and Bondoc Peninsula since 2011, and we see no abatement in rights abuses unless military troops are recalled from the area,” Funetes said.

He added that even the mercy mission currently conducted this week by the Save Bondoc Peninsula Movement is being “sabotaged” by the AFP through intimidation, harassment and smear campaigns.

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