Tag Archive: Benigno Aquino III

Press Conference: CHR human rights protector or violator?

Press Conference: CHR human rights protector or violator?

By Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)[1]

I.          General Overview

President Benigno Aquino III considered 2012 a year of continued resurgence of the economy bolstered with increased confidence in good governance. He took pride in the dramatic leaps the country has taken in the global competitive index of the World Economic Forum; the unprecedented attainment of investment-grade status from the most respected credit ratings agencies in the world; and the astounding 6.8 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in 2012.[2]

Amidst this enthusiasm, cases of extra-judicial killings (EJK), enforced disappearances, torture, illegal arrests as well as other political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights violations increase halfway into the Aquino administration. What becomes alarming “is the growing number of threats and killings of rights defenders” as observed by the UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, and on extrajudicial killings, Christof Heyns.[3]

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In 2010 President Benigno Aquino said the process of providing “true and complete justice for all” has begun. Two years later, human rights groups documented 13 cases of summary executions.

The latest victim of the assassins was Dutch missionary Wilhelmus Geertman, a Church worker who opted to live with the poor. He was killed by still unidentified assailants on July 3 in Angeles City in the province of Pampanga.

Later this month, when President Aquino delivers his state of the nation address, we expect another promise to put killers and human rights violators behind bars.

Whether in words or intentions, common to both Aquino’s pronouncements and the statements of victims of rights violations is the longing for justice.

For two years, the president has expressed weariness over worrying about justice. The families of victims, meanwhile, worry about weathering justice. The president’s weariness has been interpreted as procrastination. The victims’ call is a virtue to action.

The government has been quick to debunk accusations that it is doing nothing. Government officials said cases have been filed and everything has been done within the powers of the courts. The executive department has been helpless about it, Aquino spokesmen have said.

Indeed, the president need not interfere in court proceedings, but he has all the powers to ensure truthful and impartial investigations and the strength of his office to get rid of “scalawags in uniform.”

The president can indeed regulate the greed of business interests that hire goons to harass communities and kill environmental and human rights activists. His is the influence to assure communities that harm will never beset those who testify in cases against rights violators and criminals.

It is not how much one has projected one’s intentions. It is how far one has combated impunity. It is not the number of cases filed but how many convictions have resulted from it. It is not comparison of statistics from former administrations but how justice is rendered and how strong mechanisms are instituted to stop extrajudicial killings.

Extrajudicial executions are not accidental. These are planned to wipe out hindrances to attaining vested desires. Assassinations are grandiose displays of wickedness. The weapon is brutality, impunity its armor and terror its strength.

Click here to read full article: http://www.ucanews.com/2012/07/16/aquino-needs-fewer-words-and-more-action/

26 June 2012


In 1997, the United Nations General Assembly decided to mark this historic date and designated 26 June each year as International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

On this significant day, the Human Rights Defenders-Pilipinas together with the human rights communities worldwide commemorates this important date in pushing through a much needed process of globalizing human rights and acknowledging torture, and all forms of inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as absolutely prohibited and universally illegal.

Torture has no place in a civilized society like ours. But we are gravely concerned of its continuing practice not only to persons under investigation but against human rights defenders.

A recent case showed that farmer-leader Franklin Barrera, 18, claimed that he was abducted and tortured by the military. This happened on June 7, 2012 in Lopez, Quezon Province.

Barrera was allegedly hit in the nape with a rifle butt when he failed to identify the persons in the picture presented by the military. He claimed that he was forced to swallow three spoonful of salt and made to drink water to liquefy it. He managed to escape and was eventually confined at Doña Martha Memorial Hospital in Atimonan, Quezon.

Given this incident, we call not just for a reorientation but also reformation of our institutions in the work for human rights, particularly the protection and promotion of the rights of human rights defenders with the likes of Barrera.

Soon we hope that human rights defenders are truly considered partners in the creation of a worldwide culture of human rights, peace and development — where torture becomes a thing of the past and where human rights defenders are protected in the conduct of their duties.

In the latest United Nation’s process of Universal Periodic Review (UPR) last month, the Philippines claimed a decrease in the number of reported cases of torture, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings; but, one victim of any human rights violations is too many. Efforts to prosecute perpetrators remain insufficient. And there is still much concern over slow convictions for human rights violations.

Up until now, cases involving Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, Jr, who is accused of torture, killing and disappearance of political activists have not been resolved. Palparan is still at large.  Based on unconfirmed reports he is currently under the protection of close friends in the military and private individuals.

It is not a question of whether or not cases of torture have been lessened.  It is on how our government solves and permanently eradicates this procedure in their practices. The police and military should seriously respond to this challenge by identifying concrete steps, clear policy and truthful implementation of their sworn duty based on the international standards of human rights.

Finally, as a measure of sincerity to end cruel, degrading and inhuman act, the government especially President Benigno Aquino III must openly declare war against torturers, and yield them with appropriate penalties they deserve.###

By Renato G. Mabunga, Ph.D.


The 1987 Philippine Constitution speaks elaborately of the right to education.  It vows to “…protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels, and… take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all… (1987 Philippine Constitution, Article XIV).  In principle, the Philippines takes cognizance of the normative characteristics or elements by which the right to education is founded namely: quality education, accessibility of the right and non-discrimination.  By being so, bonded itself to the obligatory nature in realizing the right both legally and politically.

The Philippine, as a state signatory to various instruments providing normative contents to the right to education, is bound by all these treaties and declarations to provide legislative as well as administrative frameworks for the realization of this right.  It must concretize its commitment to promote, protect and fulfill human rights in its development plans.

Politically, according to the Right to Education Project (2008), right to education is also an enabling right.  It “creates the “voice” through which rights can be claimed and protected’, and without education people lack the capacity to ‘achieve valuable functionings as part of the living.”[i] The state is therefore, impelled to muster political will for the realization of this right.  This is the framework by which we shall revisit the state of Philippine Education in the year 2011.

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