US deplores human rights violations in the Philippines

LAWMAKERS have called for a congressional inquiry into the US State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011 citing cases of unlawful and extra-judicial killings of suspected enemies of the state.

Reps. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) and Maximo Rodriguez, Jr. (Party-list, Anak Mindanao)  filed House Resolution 2543, urging the House Committee on Public Order and Safety to invite the representatives of various government agencies, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders to shed light on the matter.

Rodriguez described the report of the US State Department as a serious matter saying “the government, inter-governmental organizations, scholars, journalists, and activists are relying on these reports as an essential update on human rights conditions all over the world.”

The report said the leading human rights problems include alleged arbitrary detention, unlawful and extrajudicial killings by national, provincial and local government agents and by anti-government insurgents.

“The report stated that in the Philippines, the law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, but corruption remained a very serious problem, and in spite of government efforts to file charges and obtain convictions in a number of cases, officials still engaged in corrupt practices with relative impunity,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said corruption through personal connections and bribery is committed with impunity by wealthy or influential offenders while the judicial system lacks sufficient personnel under inefficient processes resulting in delays.

Rodriguez said the reports also stated that the 138,825-member Philippine National Police (PNP) has deep-rooted institutional deficiencies and suffers from a widely held public perception that corruption remains a problem.

While some members of the PNP were regularly accused of torture, soliciting bribes and other illegal acts, the government is also suffering from insufficient mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption, Rodriguez added.

Rodriguez cited reports of widespread corruption among prison guards and prison officials, complaints of judicial workers accepting bribes or being threatened to delay or derail cases, and accusations that PNP members solicited bribes and conducted illegal acts.

“It is imperative to look into this report and determine the truth of its contents and find ways to combat corruption and ensure that corruption will be minimized, if not totally eradicated,” Rodriguez said.

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