Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights in the Philippines
May 27, 2010
Philippine NGO’s bring Morong 43 and other HRV cases to the attention of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva
A group of Philippine NGO’s that comprise the Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights in the Philippines (Ecumenical Voice for brevity), will send a 5-member delegation to attend the 14th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, and which will be held on May 31- June 18, 2010. The Philippines is presently a member of the said UN body.
The delegation is headed by the Rev. Fr. Rex Reyes, Jr., General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), with Marie Hilao Enriquez, Chairperson of the human rights alliance, KARAPATAN, Atty. Edre Olalia, Acting Secretary General of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), Atty. Carlos Zarate, Secretary General of the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) and one of the lawyers for Atty. Connie Brizuela who was among the victims of the Ampatuan massacre; Roneo ‘Jigs’ Clamor, Deputy Secretary General of KARAPATAN and husband of Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor, one of the Morong 43, as members.
“As the curtain falls on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s 9-year rule, it is most certain that among others, it shall be marked as the worst in terms of adherence to human rights instrumentalities. With the implementation of Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL), the most vicious counterinsurgency program in recent memory, her government tops the scale of human rights violators in the country’s history since the martial law years,” declared Fr, Rex Reyes, Jr.
According to Ms. Marie Hilao-Enriquez of Karapatan, “under Arroyo's watch, there are 1,991 victims of extrajudicial killings, 205 victims of enforced disappearances, 1,028 victims of torture, and hundreds of thousands forcibly evacuated and displaced in rural areas as a result of military operations”. Ms. Hilao-Enriquez also stated that “these statistics represent the scale and magnitude of the brutal impacts of OBL under a so-called democratic rule. None in recent years, can compare to the culture of impunity that characterized these assaults on human dignity”. She also stressed the fact that when there is strong local and international pressure, “the Arroyo government is forced to “de-escalate” the number of human rights violations (HRVs). But even if the numbers decreased, there was no let up in the violations, with impunity becoming more brazen as in the cases of the Ampatuan massacre and the illegal arrest and torture of the Morong 43. Whenever there is a lull in the pressure, the number of HRVs shoots up again.”
She added that “the impunity is also characterized by the fact that not only is it continuing but also by the fact that to this day no one has been credibly convicted of these affronts to humanity. The victims cry out for justice. The Arroyo government must be held accountable for these crimes against humanity.”
Fr. Reyes said that the Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights in the Philippines will once more travel to Geneva, Switzerland for the 14th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Mr. Jigs Clamor, husband of Dr. Merry Clamor of the Morong 43, for his part said that he will bring the issue of his wife and the rest of her co-detainees before the international community as one of the examples of the “continuing human rights violations under Oplan Bantay Laya”. He further stated that the delegation “will appeal to the UNHRC to listen to the call of the Filipino people for justice and help stop further impunity and human rights violations through mechanisms like the OBL. We will lay our case for sustained international monitoring and pressure for the Philippine government to comply with its commitments and pledges to universally accepted human rights instrumentalities”.
Pertaining to the recent national elections and its relation to the trip, Fr. Reyes said that they are hoping “that the UNHRC will help push the Philippine government under presumptive President-apparent Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to fulfill his promise to prosecute President Macapagal-Arroyo, accord justice to the victims of human rights violations, end political repression, discontinue the OBL as a policy and never embark on any similar policy, and address the roots of the insurgency, namely poverty and injustice”.
The members of the delegation also stated that they will give “oral interventions” during reports of committees and rapporteurs that are relevant to the Philippine human rights situation.
Fr. Rex Reyes, Jr, (9228141)
Ms. Marie Hilao-Enriquez (09175616800)