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Human Rights Situationer 2012: A Mid-term view of the PNoy Presidency
HR Situationer
Monday, 13 May 2013 00:00

Human Rights Situationer 2012: A Mid-term view of the PNoy Presidency

 

On September 21, 2012, the human rights community commemorated the day of the signing of Martial Law 40 years ago by then President turned Dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos. It was a couple of days later, on September 23, 1972 when it was declared over nationwide television along with massive arrests of political opponents, rivals and dissidents of the administration.

 

The slogan and theme of the activities were mostly, Never Again… never again will the Filipino people let a government curtail its rights and freedoms… never again to martial law but irony of ironies… nine days before the 40th commemoration of the declaration of Martial Law, the current administration, declared RA 10175, the Cybercrime law, a law that will curtail freedom of expression over the internet.

 

HALFWAY THROUGH

In 2010, on the first automated presidential election in the country, Benigno Simeon Aquino III became the president of the Republic of the Philippines

 

High hopes and expectations were given to his presidency. For one, it was refreshing to have a reluctant president.  In the beginning of the presidential election, Aquino was not even a candidate. He was convinced to run after the death of his mother Former President Corazon Aquino where we witnessed a huge outpouring of grief and sympathy reminiscent of the wake and funeral procession of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. in 1983.  After a time, he later announced his presidency. His seeming reluctance to run was the total opposite from the impressions made by his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Even when she announced that the elections will push through, there were fears that a No-el (No elections) scenario could happen.

 

Another reason for the high expectation on the Aquino presidency was because the president is a legacy candidate. Being a son of a former political prisoner who was martyred during the tumultuous times of the Marcos Dictatorship, late Senator Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino, Jr. and the president who became the leader after the EDSA revolution there was a general hope that the saying that the apple does not fall from the tree will be true in his case.

 

His slogan, Kung walang kurap, walang mahirap (if there is no corruption, no one will be poor) also played to the sentiments of the Filipino people. With 1/3 of its people under poverty rate[1], it is no wonder that such slogan brought hope to the Filipino people.

 

In the President’s inauguration speech, delivered in the vernacular, the president tried to deliver his point through figurative language imagery, his concept of leadership was explicit with his walang wangwang (no sirens) statement, his declaration that the Filipino people was in fact his “boss” and that his governments direction is a matuwid na landas (straight road) resonated with the people.

 

However, three years after his inauguration, the President is yet to deliver on any of his promises.

 

MATUWID NA LANDAS GONE AWRY

Kung Walang Kurap….

 

The campaign slogan of the President that resonated with the people giving hope that through straight government efforts to curb corruption will somehow later translate to an alleviation of the economic and social conditions of its people.

 

There is no question in PNoy’s pursuit to run after officials deemed corrupt, especially those who served in the previous administration. His three State of the Nation Address (SONA) has prioritized reporting alleged corrupt practices of the past administration. Cases of graft and corruption were charged to numerous personalities of the last administration. The current administration has brought two sets of charges against Mrs. Arroyo[2]. The first charge against Mrs. Arroyo is for allegedly cheating in the 2004 elections otherwise known as the Hello Garci Scandal, when a wiretapped conversation allegedly between President Arroyo and Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garciliano was presented to media. The next was related to allegations of misuse of $8.8 million in state lottery funds during her administration[3]. Arroyo’s appointed Supreme Court Justice Renato Corona, was also impeached through the efforts of PNoy’s allies in the House of Representatives.

 

Though these efforts to run after those who committed graft and corruption are noted, there is a question on how serious is the Aquino government in ensuring that these practices be stopped.

 

One of the earlier legislative promises of the Aquino government was that there will be transparency and that it will support the passing of the Freedom of Information bill that remains in Congress.

 

Transparency is the key way to deter and detect corruption and to safeguard the integrity of the government[4] and one of the most systematic way to greater transparency is through a general right of access to official information – a Freedom Of Information (FOI) law[5].

 

After the Corona impeachment where the Chief Justice (CJ) was impeached due to Article 2 of the impeachment complaint that states “RESPONDED COMMITTED CULPABLE VIOLATION OF THE CONSTITUTION AND/OR BETRAYED THE PUBLIC TRUST WHEN HE FAILED TO DISCLOSE TO THE PUBLIC HIS STATEMENT OF ASSETS, LIABILITIES, AND NET WORTH AS REQUIRED UNDER SEC. 17, ART. XI OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION,”[6]

hopes were high that the new CJ will ensure transparency of the courts.

 

But hopes were failed by the Aquino appointed CJ Maria Lourdes Sereno. In new guidelines issued by the Sereno court, the tribunal imposed additional requirements for accessing the SALN of the members of the courts.

 

These are the additional requirements

  • All SALN requests must explain the purpose and the individual interests of the requesting parties
  • The interest of the requesting party in the SALN “must go beyond pure or mere curiosity.”
  • The requesting party must not have any derogatory record.
  • All decisions on the release of the SALN are now made by the Court en banc.[7]

 

Walang Mahirap…

On his latest State of the Nation Address, PNoy boasted of the positive credit action and multiple all time high in the Philippine Stock Exchange as exemplary proof of how the economy is growing and the improvements compared to that of his predecessor.

 

Sadly though, these alleged gains in the economy did not trickle down to the majority of its people that remains poor. As of the third quarter of 2012, 47% of families considered themselves as Mahirap (poor)[8] according to a self-rated survey of poverty conducted by the Social Weather Station (SWS). This is considerably better from the result last May 2012 where 51% or an estimated 10.3 million Filipinos considered themselves poor.

 

However, on another survey conducted by SWS for the same period, there has been a rise on Hunger experience when 21% or an estimated amount of 4.3 million families experienced involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months. [9]

 

Redefining Mahirap

A topic of contention is the definition of poor by the Aquino government. According to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), the United Nations Statistical Commission which prescribes international standard and guidelines on statistical measurement and practices, has not prescribed any international standard to measure poverty.[10] Hence, there was a need for the NSCB to develop their own which gave birth to the determination of the poverty line threshold.

 

The first development on poverty measurement was done by the Statistical Coordination Office of the NEDA (that later became the NSCB) in 1987. In the earlier versions non-food needs such as recreation and purchase of durable furniture and equipment were included which was later tweaked in 1992 and again in 2002.

 

In 1992, the official methodology starts with the computation of the food threshold which refers to the cost of basic food requirements as defined by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Philippines (FNRI) to satisfy 100 percent adequacy for the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for energy and protein and 80 percent adequacy for the RDA for vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. [11]

 

Aside from the food threshold though, basic non-food requirement were also computed. The basic non-food requirements include clothing and footwear; housing (including fuel, light and water); maintenance and minor repairs; and rental of owner-occupied dwelling units; medical care; education; transportation and communication; non durable furnishings; household operations; and personal care and effects. [12]

 

The cost of the basic non-food threshold plus the food threshold equals the poverty threshold. [13]

 

However, in 2011 further tweaking by the NSCB to the food threshold it has revised the food menu with the cheapest food combination deemed to satisfy nutritional requirement for three meals daily[14].

 

[15]

The newest menu has removed children’s milk for breakfast, and any extra separate viand of fish or meat and fruit dessert beyond once a day. – Or the minimum amount required to meet food needs - is currently pegged at Php 32.02 per person per day or Php 10.70 per meal.[16]

 

Noticeably though, each revision of the food threshold to measure poverty, also changes the numbers of the poor in the country making it seem that the government has made advancement in eradicating poverty as stated in the Millennium Development goal.

 

 

[17]from www.gmanetwork.com

 

Defining poverty at the subsistence level, the 2011 methodology puts the poverty threshold where a family can survive at the barest existence to spend for food, mobility and any shelter from natural elements during the night. [18]

 

Tiding over Poverty

 

PNoy’s economic plan for poverty alleviation remains to be a dole out. Initially started by his predecessor, the Pantawid (to tide over) Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) otherwise known as the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) is still the program used by the government in ensuring that it meets the MDG commitment of

 

1. Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

2. Achieve Universal Primary Education

3. Promote Gender Equality

4. Reduce Child Mortality

5. Improve Maternal Health[19]

 

Chosen beneficiaries receive Php 500.00 per month benefit for health and nutrition expenses and Php 300 per month per child benefit for education expenses. A maximum of three children per household is allowed, [20] totalling to a maximum of PHP 1, 400. 00 cash grant.

 

Certain conditions are set by the government that the beneficiaries have to meet in order to receive the cash grant such as:

  • Children 0-5 years of age, get regular preventive health checkups and vaccines
  • Children 3-5 years of age, attend day-care / preschool at least 85% of the time
  • Children 6-14 years of age, attend elementary or high school at least 85% of the time
  • Pregnant women must get pre-natal care, must be delivered by a skilled birth attendant and must get post-natal care
  • Mothers must attend mother’s classes
  • Parents must attend Parent Effectiveness Seminars and Responsible Parenthood Seminars[21].

 

According to the President’s SONA, the 4Ps’ program currently has 3 million family beneficiaries as of Feb 2012.

 

At first glance, there really seem to be gains made through this dole out. In a study of Ateneo’s Institute of Philippine Culture, the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program’s cash grants and the conditionalities have kept students in schools and brought children and pregnant women for regular check-ups at health centers[22].

 

On the other hand though, it remains unclear whether the positive behavioural changes observed were simply a result of beneficiaries’ compliance with the CCT conditionalities (and could therefore disappear once the program ends or actually signal the onset of long-lasting improvements). [23]

 

Critics are also commenting on the ballooning of the number of beneficiaries when in reality, government facilities such as the schools and health centers were not ready for it. The country remains saddled with insufficient and poor quality educational and health facilities which may not be able to absorb the additional users.[24]

 

Another consideration is the question of the investment being placed on the 4P program, though it seems to be an investment in the next generation, the program is also an investment that is drawing a substantial chunk of its capital from foreign loans[25] not on local capital.

 

Currently, the program is being funded partly through loans from the World Bank (WB) and Asian Development Bank, amounting to $805 million.[26]

 

Furthermore, there is a question whether the CCT program might be overestimating the potential benefits from developing ‘human capital” through education and health requirements. According to Ibon, there are some 4.6 million unemployed Filipinos in the country of whom nearly nine out of ten (87%) are reasonably educated – 44% are high school undergraduates or graduates and 43% are at least college undergraduates or graduates. Meaning being a beneficiary of the program may not guarantee in producing higher income earners of the future.

 

On Demolitions

 

The first case documented for the year is a violent demolition in Barangay Corazon de Jesus, San Juan City. According to reports two trucks filled with members of the demolition team conducted the demolition on January 10, 2012 allegedly assisted by the Philippine National Police, the fire department and the SWAT.

 

Around 23 persons were wounded in this violent dispersal and an additional 18 persons were allegedly arrested by the PNP. The PNP claimed that their members and members of the demolition crew were also hurt during the fight.

 

According to a news report, the disputed land owned by the city government is being planned to be used for building a new city hall and government-one-stop-shop. They also claimed that the defiant residents were only minorities[27], since most residents agreed to be relocated to Barangay San Isidro, Rodriguez, Rizal and be given Php 10,000 cash and half a sack of rice.

 

Another violent demolition reported for 2012 is the demolition of the Silverio Compound in Sucat Road, Parañaque on April 23, 2012. According to the residents, they were only forming a human barricade to prevent the authorities to enforce the demolition order. Though the Paranaque local government tried to insist that they will be demolishing only the flea market at the front of the compound, the residents feared that it will begin the demolishing of the whole area.

 

In 2003, city ordinance 806 authorized the Parañaque City government to expropriate a 9.7 hectare property in the Town of San Isidro[28], the area otherwise know as the Silverio Compound. The area is supposed to be used to build a socialized housing project for the area’s thousands of informal settlers and make them legitimate homeowners.

 

However, with the change of executive head in Parañaque comes a different appreciation of the land. The current Mayor, Jun Bernabe wants to demolish the homes of the residents of Silverio Compound to make way to “Silver Homes”, a neighbourhood of mid-rise residential buildings to be financed by the National Housing Authority and sold to residents through affordable payment structures[29].

 

The Bernabe Silver Homes plan will accommodate 1,800 families and use 3 hectares of the disputed land. The rest of the property is planned to be used as a commercial complex that can serve as an income source for the city government[30].

 

The big problem is that even in 2008, when the previous mayor filed for the expropriation of the Silverio Compound, the lists of the Plaintiff’s constituents was already at “about 25,000 families, more or less, for the past twenty years or more”[31], which means that even with the 2008 data, around 23,200 families will be deemed homeless with Bernabe’s Silver homes plan.

 

The violent dispersal resulted in the death of a young man, Arnel Leonor who was shot, according to ballistic by either a 9mm or a. 38.

 

The police is said to have a 9mm gun as standard issue weapon.

 

Human Rights Issue

 

In an interview with Radio New Zealand, the President defended the human rights record of his administration and even vent how human rights is for everybody and invoked the state forces rights that must be respected and upheld[32].

 

He also blamed the alleged “very vocal leftist community” in the country which is “very good in propaganda” downplaying the atrocities that has been committed by state forces.

 

But this claim is not reflective of the statistics of human rights violations collated by TFDP. As of December 2012 there has been 104 human rights violations documented.

 

Mining as a Human Rights Issue, the double speak

 

On July 6, 2012, President Aquino signed Executive Order No. 79 institutionalizing and implementing reforms in the Philippine Mining Sector providing policies and guidelines to ensure environmental protection and responsible mining in the utilization of mineral resources[33]. This is the response of the Aquino government to the clamour for total mining ban from civil society organizations including the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

 

Unfortunately, though the EO’s title gives a gleam of hope, the framework of the executive has not been to stop mining all together but only to get its “fair share” of the revenues from mining[34] but with the meaning of “fair share” still debatable.

 

It has further strengthened the power of legislation, as it gives Congress the power to determine entry to new mineral agreements with the context of rationalization. The context of rationale is defined solely by who is rationalizing. What is reasonable to a mining investor may be totally unreasonable to the community affected by mining. [35]

 

According to Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), the EO has failed to address the substantial issues on mining:

 

1. Shifting the policy from “earning profits from mining” to a “rational management of our mineral resources”,

2. Ensuring that mining complies with sustainable development, human rights, poverty-eradication and full human potential; and

3. Give a reprieve to communities and the natural resources they live off, from the real threats of destructive mining. [36]

 

Mining Related Human Rights Abuses

 

Numerous mining related cases were documented by TFDP for the year 2012.

 

One case is the killing of Francisco Canayong, a 64 year old staunch human rights defender and anti-mining advocate. Canayong was stabbed to death by unidentified assailants at about 2 PM along the national highway in Salcedo, Eastern Samar.

 

His body was found across the street from where his tricycle was found. Before his death, there were said to be verbal threats against him from civilians involved in the mining activities in the area.

 

Another case is that of the Capion Family in Davao del Sur. According to the documentation of TFDP, on October 18, 2012 at about 6:30 AM, members of the Capion Family were massacred in Davao del Sur, allegedly by members of the 27th Infantry Battalion led by a certain 1Lt. Dante Jimenez, commanding officer of the Bravo Company under the command of Lt. Col. Noel Alexis Bravo, Battalion Commander.

 

Among the victims were two boys, fourteen and eight years old, respectively and their mother, Juvy Capion, who was allegedly pregnant as well. There were two survivors, both girls, a four year old and an 11 year old, the older one was wounded.

 

According to witnesses, they heard rapid gunshots coming from the victim’s farmhouse and they rushed over to see what was going on. The witnesses saw two of the children taking refuge at an adjacent house, the older child covering the younger one as the military poked their guns at them.

 

The witnesses tried to intervene for the children and the family but the military was insistent. Allegedly, they were in pursuit of Daguil Capion, the father of the children who was also a tribal leader of the indigenous people’s tribe, B’laan and is said to have taken up arms against the entry of a mining firm in their ancestral domain. Daguil was a suspect in a 2010 ambush of three construction workers of Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI).

 

According to the witness, the mother, Juvy even pleaded to the military to stop firing their guns since they were already wounded but to no avail. The military strafed the house again were Juvy and her son lay wounded, eventually killing them.

 

Witnesses claimed that Daguil was not inside the house when the massacre happened. [37]

On Political Detention

 

Until now, three years into his presidency, President Aquino is yet to set free a political prisoner through his own efforts, a sad precedent for a son of a political prisoner and exile.

 

On 2011, he almost sent Mariano Umbrero, a political prisoner that had terminal lung cancer to freedom but his efforts went a little too late. Mariano Umbrero died on July 15, 2011, four days before the President granted him executive clemency[38].

 

In a speech prior to the executive department finding out that Mr. Umbrero, the person he granted clemency to was already dead, the President admitted he had a hard time approving the recommendations for clemency. He even said that good conduct time allowance accorded to convicts must be done away with, and that he would prefer the justice system in the US, where a person meted life imprisonment would really spend his lifetime behind bars without any pardon or parole[39].

 

For the president it seems that no restitution could be given without extracting the full sentence of a prisoner plus he does not even recognize the difference of a common criminal to that of a political prisoner.

 

On September 21, 2011, the 39th year anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, Edwin Lacierda, Presidential spokesperson, that as far as there ‘term of reference’ go, they believe that the Philippines has no political prisoner[40].

 

In Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) ‘term of reference’ as of December 21, 2012 there are currently ___ political prisoners and detainees in the country.

 

TFDP defines a political prisoner with the same criterion that was used when it first started in 1974 during the height of the Martial Law Period:

 

1.         Detained or imprisoned individuals who advocate change to established supposed order, or argue the need for reform of long-established policies, or engage in acts signifying some degree of disloyalty; or active involvement in political movements with peaceful or resistance means;

 

2.         Charged with non-bailable offense and common crimes instead of political related offense;

 

(The Hernandez doctrine became part of our country’s jurisprudence in 1956. The Supreme Court ruled in the case People of the Philippines vs. Hernandez that a person who commits a political offense could be charged with rebellion but not with common crimes such as murder, arson, robbery, etc. It ruled that the act of rebellion would already include and absorb these crimes. The practice of the government of filing criminal charges such as murder, kidnapping, robbery, arson, etc. against persons suspected of committing acts of rebellion are meant to destroy the credibility of and demonize political prisoners.)

 

3.         Established political motive of the arrest even if actual charges are not in anyway related;

 

(Circumstantial evidence to help establish intent of the arrest)

 

4.         Tortured and forced to admit affiliation with armed rebel groups and criminal offense. It is routinely used to force confessions and the evidence obtained by torture is used in court to sentence individuals;

 

5.         Branded or tagged as terrorist by state agents but actually with sufficient proof or endorsement or certification by their colleagues as active member of progressive or revolutionary organizations;

 

(engages in activities that the government considers contrary to its policies, and therefore they call it ‘anti-government’, ‘a security threat’, or even ‘terrorism’)

 

6.         Individuals who are arrested as a result of participating in a peaceful dissent (e.g. rally, picket, boycott, etc.);

 

7.         Civilians accused of being members of armed rebel groups. Some political prisoners/detainees were not directly involved in politics before their arrest. Others never considered themselves as political before they were arrested, but eventually the government has actually made them political through their imprisonment.

 

(Mere association with members, rather than actual membership of an “outlawed group” can land someone in considerable risk of being arrested.)

 

From January 1 to September 30, 2012, TFDP has documented 59 cases of arrests and detention with 125 victims.

 

One case is the arrest of Rolly Panesa, a security guard mistaken to be a high ranking member of the New People’s Army.

 

According to Rolly, on October 5, 2012, at around 11:30 PM he and his family were in Anonas, Quezon City after they attended a party when they were apprehended by combined elements of the 2nd Infantry Division, Philippine Army, other AFP units and the Philippine National Police (PNP). No warrant of arrest was presented to them.

 

Rolly cannot recall much details of his arrest since he was a little tipsy after the party. What he remembers was that they were boarded to a military vehicle and brought to Canlubang, Laguna.

 

He also recalls that his interrogators were forcing him to admit to be a certain Benjamin Mendoza, allegedly a leader of the New People’s Army with a bounty over his head of Php 5.6 million but cannot recall the details of his interrogation. But based on his face, the victim who had bruises all over his face, lips swollen and eyes red, could have been tortured.

 

Rolly also did not know where his wife and children were brought.

 

On October 8, 2012, Rolly was transferred to the Special Intensive Care Area, Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City. Before he was admitted, the SICA Jail Warden requested that his arresting officers get him a medical certificate. They brought him to the Rizal Medical Center before he was admitted to SICA.

 

Rolly later found out that his family has been freed.

 

Unfortunately, Rolly’s case of mistaken identity is not that unusual. TFDP has encountered numerous cases similar to him through time, where an innocent person is suspected to be a person with a bounty over his/her head. This is also what happened to Abdul Khan Balinting Ajid, a baker suspected of being a member of the Abu Sayyaf last 2011.

 

TORTURE

 

Ajid was arrested by members of the Special Operation Task Force Basilan (SOTF-B) at his home at Barangay Libug, Sumisip, Basilan Province, in the early morning of July 23, 2012.

 

The members of the arresting team wanted him to admit to be a certain Kanneh Malikil , an alleged member of the Abu Sayyaf and brutally tortured him during interrogation.

 

According to the victim, he experienced being blindfolded, beaten-up, sodomized, water boarded, paddled, strangled, suffocated, flicked in the testicles, and burnt by his captors inside the military camp.

 

The last ordeal he suffered was when the military men took a liter of gasoline and poured it over the victim. Gasoline was poured on him by his captors and later set him on fire. All these torture were done fearlessly inside a military compound.

 

Though the actual perpetrators of the torture admitted in their affidavits to the burning of Ajid were recommended for dismissal by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) after its investigation, it has excluded the commander of the SOTF-Basilan and Capt. Arvin Llenares, head of the arresting team, citing that they neither consented nor did they have knowledge of the alleged acts[41]happening inside their yard.

 

The military claims that the Ajid case was an isolated incident[42], but regardless of this claim, TFDP has documented 16 cases of torture with 21 victims from January 1 to September 30, 2012, four of which involved the military.

 

One case is that of Faustino Gerbon a worker arrested by around 10 combined elements from the Police Operations Groups, Northern Samar Police Provincial Office, members of 803rd Brigade of Philippine Army, Military Intelligence Group 8 and the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

 

According to Faustino, it was around 9:00 AM of July 8, 2912 and he was cleaning the front yard of his employer’s store, when a police car with civilian-clothes men arrived and got off from the car.

 

Two of them suddenly grabbed his hands and handcuffed him behind his back. When he asked them why they are doing that to him, they replied that he was an NPA.

 

Faustino said he was taken inside the mobile and headed towards the police station where he was interrogated. He was being made to admit he is a member of the NPA.

 

At about 11 AM, he was brought to the headquarters of 803rd Brigade in Dalakit, Catarman by four men. Upon arrival at the camp, he was blindfolded and subjected to tactical interrogation.

 

According to Faustino, they wanted him to admit that he was a rebel and that he was responsible for the killing of Mayor Ceasar Vicencio of Catubig, Northern Samar. When he denied their allegations, he was punched in the stomach and was threatened to be killed.  When his interrogators failed to get any information from him, they tied him to a coconut tree, one of his assailant shit and kicked him.

 

Still in blindfold, Faustino was made to ride a vehicle before he was dropped off he did not know where but he sensed he was still inside the camp.

 

At around 4 AM, his blindfold was taken off. They took him inside a car and they went around the Catarman Bus Terminal until 5:30 AM. He was told by the men to look for NPA rebels.

 

Later, Faustino was brought back to the provincial jail. Again, he was blindfolded. They threatened him that he will be drowned at the fish pond.

 

After this Faustino was brought back to the army camp then again brought to the police station in Catarman where he was detained for three (3) days before he was brought to Bobon Provincial Jail.

 

 

On Enforced Disappearance

 

In the beginning of year 2012, a case was documented by the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance. Three Islamic Scholars were last seen boarding Air Philippines in Zamboanga City airport bound for Manila on January 3, 2012. They were on their way to Sudan, and were supposed to get an interconnected flight in Manila. Najir Ahung, Rasdie Kasaran and Yusup Mohammad were still able to communicate with their families that they have arrived in Manila. However, they were not seen or heard from again after this.

 

FIND on February 14, 2012, was able to confirm from Air Philippines baggage section that checked-in bags of Najir and Yusup were never claimed[43].

 

Relatives of the victims suspected that government security agents were responsible in the disappearance because there had been unconfirmed reports that linked the victims to the ambush of Philippine Special Forces by suspected members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) reportedly joined by villagers near Al-Barka, Basilan[44].

 

FIND along with Asia Federation Against Involuntary Disappearance (AFAD) and the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) has asked for assistance from AFP’s Human Rights Office Chief Colonel Domingo Tutaan and Colonel Henry Libay of Task Force Usig of the PNP but the victims are still to be found.

 

According to FIND’s website, 1, 147 victims of enforced disappearance are still to be found. The years 1983 to 1985 recorded the highest number of incidents of disappearances followed by the years 1987 and 1989. 1983-1985 was the peak of the campaign against the Marcos dictatorship. 1987-1989 was the period of the “total war policy” of the Corazon C. Aquino regime against insurgents[45]. For the present Aquino regime, FIND has recorded 17 cases of enforced disappearance, 7 of whom are still missing, 4 have surfaced alive and one found dead. [46]

 

On October 16, 2012, the Philippine Congress ratified the law against Enforced Disappearance. It defines enforced disappearance as the “arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty committed by agents of the state or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support, acquiescence of the state, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person.”

 

On December 21, 2012, PNoy signed the bill into law. The law will criminalize enforced disappearance and those who will be found guilty committing such crime will be sentenced to 20 years and 1 day to 40 years imprisonment.

 

The law also has notable key provisions such as:  it’s declaration of the unlawfulness of the order of battle and the rights of person to disobey such order, it also holds liable the immediate commanding officer of the military unit or the immediate senior police official for acts that led to the commission of enforced disappearance by his or her subordinates. [47]

 

Non Priority of Human Rights

 

Only three years remain of the PNoy administration. Until now, the Human Rights community is still waiting for the PNoy government’s human rights plan via the National Human Rights Action Plan.

 

The NHRAP was a commitment of the Philippine Government during the United Nations Universal Periodic Review of HR situation in 2008. The Arroyo administration prepared a NHRAP in 2009, and is supposedly being reviewed by PNoy’s administration upon ascendance to the presidency. Two years after becoming the president, PNoy is yet to release the NHRAP.

 

This puts into question the commitment of his and his government in prioritizing human rights.

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1] http://business.inquirer.net/money/breakingnews/view/20100527-272374/No-reduction-in-RPs-poverty-rate-NSCB

[2] http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/philippines/index.html

[3] ibid.

[4] Frankel, Maurice Freedom of Information and Corruption http://www.cfoi.org.uk/pdf/corruptionmf.pdf

[5] ibid.

[6] http://www.coolbuster.net/2012/05/corona-guilty-convicted-under.html

[7] Diokno: Accountability must begin with our courts pcij.org/blog/

[8] Third Quarter 2012 Social Weather Survey: Families rating themselves as Mahirap or Poor eased at 47% www,sws,org.ph

[9] Third Quarter 2012 Social Weather Survey: Hunger rises to 21.0% of families; Moderate Hunger rises, while Severe Hunger falls www.sws.org.ph

[10] http://www.nscb.gov.ph/headlines/StatsSpeak/2011/021411_rav_joe_bbb.asp

[11] Virola, Romulo “Statistical Challenges on Poverty Reduction in the Philippines” www. nscb.gov.ph/technotes/poverty/partii/annex4_2.pdf

[12] ibid.

[13] ibid.

[14] Latest poverty measure: excluding the poor from the poverty account http://www.ibon.org/ibon_features.php?id=250

[15] http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/278380/news/specialreports/tweaked-food-threshold-distorts-phl-poverty-picture

[16] Latest poverty measure: excluding the poor from the poverty account http://www.ibon.org/ibon_features.php?id=250

[17] http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/278380/news/specialreports/tweaked-food-threshold-distorts-phl-poverty-picture

[18] Latest poverty measure: excluding the poor from the poverty account http://www.ibon.org/ibon_features.php?id=250

[19] http://pantawid.dswd.gov.ph/index.php/about-us

[20] ibid.

[21] http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTPHILIPPINES/Resources/4PsDSWD.pdf

[22] http://pcij.org/stories/good-news-and-bad/

[23] ibid.

[24] Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) : Temporary, Diversionary, and Indefensible http://www.ibon.org/ibon_features.php?id=116

[25] de los Reyes, Che CCT debt trap? Future of pro-poor deal a poser http://pcij.org/stories/cct-debt-trap-future-of-pro-poor-deal-a-poser/

[26] ibid.

[27] http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/126307/12-hurt-as-squatters-resist-demolition-of-shanties-in-san-juan

[28] http://www.rappler.com/nation/4702-the-demon-of-silverio

[29] ibid.

[30] ibid.

[31] ibid.

[32] http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=862776&publicationSubCategoryId=63

[33] http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/-depth/07/09/12/pnoys-mining-eo-no-79

[34] http://www.rappler.com/business/2678-pnoy-gov-t-not-keen-on-total-mining-ban

[35] http://www.rappler.com/thought-leaders/8488-the-mining-eo-a-mixed-bag

[36] http://www.alyansatigilmina.net/content/story/august2012/atm-position-executive-order-79-s-2012

[37] 12-DDS-   Capion Massacre documented by Rita Melecio

[38] http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/10331-inmates-death-saddens-palace

[39] http://www.philstar.com/nation/article.aspx?publicationsubcategoryid=65&articleid=710533

[40] http://opinion.inquirer.net/14895/%E2%80%98we-have-no-political-prisoners%E2%80%99

[41] Commission on Human Rights IX, Zamboanga City, CHR-IX-2011-0444, in the matter of motu propio investigation on the arrest and detention of Abdulkhan Ajid Y Balinting

[42] http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/39593/evidence-enough-for-military-torture-trial-says-army-head

[43] http://hronlineph.com/2012/02/25/press-release-missing-islamic-scholars-confirmed-abducted-in-naia-3-find/

[44] ibid.

[45] http://find.org.ph/resources

[46] ibid.

[47] http://www.rappler.com/nation/14364-bill-vs-order-of-battle-awaits-aquino-ok


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