“You owe us justice, Mr. President,” victims tell Aquino

WE don’t owe you anything, you owe us justice, among many things, Mr. President.”

Thus said rights group Hustisya, an organization of victims of human rights violations, in reaction to the statement made by Pres. Benigno Aquino to help government look for evidence and file cases to solve extrajudicial killings and human rights violations.

“Pray tell, Mr. President, can you tell us what have you done precisely to solve cases of human rights violations? Because in our experience, you and your administration have done nothing to solve these cases, but have done everything to cover up for your state security forces. We, victims, have tirelessly searched for evidence and filed cases since day one. We have gone to the courts, to the streets, even to the United Nations,” said Ernan Baldomero, vice-chairperson of Hustisya and son of Fernando Baldomero the first victim of extrajudicial killing under the Aquino government.

Fernando Baldomero, councilor of Lezo, Aklan and member of SELDA and Bayan Muna, was killed in July 5, 2010. At present, the case of the killing of Fernando was archived at the Aklan Regional Trial Court because the perpetrators have not been arrested.

According to Karapatan, there are now 114 victims of extrajudicial killings under Aquino’s watch. The victims include Baldomero, botanist Leonard Co, broadcaster Gerry Ortega, indigenous people leader Jimmy Liguyon, Dutch missionary Willem Geertman and Italian priest Fr. Fausto Tentorio.

Concepcion Empeño, mother of missing UP student Karen Empeño, said “Kung makapagsalita si Pang. Aquino, para bang may nagawa na siya para sa mga biktima. Hindi siya o ang kanyang administrasyon ang tumugis sa mga maysala, kundi kami mismong mga biktima. Kung ako sa kanya, dapat niyang itigil ang pag-angkin sa mga ginawa namin para kamtin ang hustisya at magtrabaho siya (Pres. Aquino speaks as if he has done anything to solve cases of human rights violations. It is we who ran after the criminals, not him or his administration. If I were him, he should stop claiming what we have done to attain justice and do his job instead).”

Karen and Sherlyn Cadapan were abducted with farmer Manuel Merino on June 26, 2006, allegedly by military forces under the command of retired Gen. Jovito Palparan. In April 2011, charges of kidnapping with serious illegal detention have been filed against him and three other military officials.

“It is the Aquino government who has been remiss in providing possible avenues in seeking justice. He should stop pointing fingers back at us to cover up for the impunity perpetuated under his term,” Baldomero added.

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