NZ groups to Aquino’s ‘superbody’: End culture of impunity

THE new “superbody” created by Philippine President Benigno Aquino III to investigate and monitor high-profile rights abuse cases must have teeth resulting in convictions, sincere heart and strong will to end the culture of impunity.

With Christmas around the corner, the fitness of this superbody would also be tested on its readiness to recommend for Aquino to grant presidential amnesty to over 300 political prisoners many of whom suffered torture during captivity.

Their families are hoping to be reunited with them during the Christmas
season. We really hope their cries for freedom and justice would not
fall on more deaf ears of Aquino’s new superbody. ”

Thus was the statement of the Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA) as it renewed calls for justice for human rights victims in the Philippines. This week PSNA together with Auckland Philippines Solidarity (APS) and Wellington Kiwi Pinoy signed and sent to Philippine authorities the “Letter of Appeal to the Newly Formed Human Rights Body to Order the Immediate Release of Felicidad Caparal.”

The letter states: “We appeal to the newly formed human rights super-body created by President Aquino to order the immediate release of Felicidad Caparal who has been languishing in jail since Oct. 9, 2009. She is being held on false charges concocted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) because of her being an active staff and organizer of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA).

UMA is at the forefront of the struggle in the national level of the farm
workers in Hacienda Luisita, which is owned by the Philippine
President’s family.”

“If Aquino’s new superbody won’t have teeth against the perpetrators of human rights abuses, it will be another waste of resources and further betrayal of justice for the victims and their kin. As the world observes International Human Rights Week in December, Mr. Aquino must be reminded again of his 2010 campaign promise to bring to justice the perpetrators of human rights abuses under his predecessor.

More importantly, he must answer for the record of 114 extra-judicial
killings, continuing torture and illegal detentions, violent demolition of urban poor dwellings and other serious human rights breaches under his own watch,” Murray Horton, PSNA Secretary noted.

“With the Philippine government’s almost zero-rate conviction on numerous cases of rights abuses, we share the skepticism of local and international human rights watchdog groups that the new interagency committee on extralegal killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other grave violations may just be another ‘public relations’ scheme amid criticisms that such abuses persist under Aquino’s watch,” Horton said.

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