Philippine Rights Delegation at the United Nations call for Justice
Philippine Rights Delegation at the United Nations call for Justice for Philippine Human Rights Defenders at the 19th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.
Rights Delegation at the UN Call for Justice for Filipina Human Rights
Defenders, Raise Child Rights Violations under Aquino
[Geneva, March 9, 2012] Speaking at a
side event organized by the International Service for Human Rights and the
Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition during the 19th
session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, Tanggol
Bayi-Karapatan spokesperson and Philippine UPR Watch convener Cristina Palabay
today enjoined international NGOs and women’s organizations to support the call
for justice for Filipina human rights defenders who were victims of state
violence and terror under the Arroyo and the current Aquino administration.
She cited the cases of disappeared UP students Sherlyn
Cadapan and Karen Empeno, and journalist and human rights worker Benjaline
Hernandez as among the unresolved cases in the Philippines under the Arroyo
administration, as Arroyo and her top military generals such as Maj. Gen.
Jovito Palparan remain scot-free from prosecution and arrest on these rights
“Such climate of impunity prevails to this day! Under
the one and a half years under President Benigno Aquino III, with 67 cases of
extrajudicial killings, four of the victims are women, three of them women
human rights defenders and one seven-year old child Sunshine Jabinez.
Oplan Bayanihan, the current counter-insurgency program, has legitimized
the militarization of communities resulting to forced evacuations, threats,
harassment, torture, and indiscriminate firing, the rape and sexual abuse among
the civilian population, most of them women and children,” Palabay stated.
She also scored the increasing US military presence in
the country, citing recent reports on the deployment of some 6,000 US troops in
Palawan for Balikatan military exercises with the Armed Forces of the
Philippines next month. This, she said, can result to more violations and
wanton disregard for the rights and dignity of Filipinas, as in many cases of
violence perpetrated by these soldiers.
Meanwhile, Palabay, in an oral intervention read for
her by Maribel Mapanao of the Campaign for Human Rights in the
Philippines-Switzerland, brought to the attention of the international rights
body the cases of violence against children in schools, their homes and
communities perpetrated by state security forces.
“Soldiers turn day care centers and schools
into their temporary camps while conducting military operations. Hence classes
are suspended when there are military operations, depriving the children of
their right to education and to an environment conducive to learning without
fear. This month, officials of the military in Mindanao threatened nuns in a
Catholic school to remove their streamer calling for justice for an Italian
missionary who was recently killed,” stated in her intervention through Civicus-World
Alliance for Citizen Participation.
She also cited the recruitment of minors in the
paramilitary and the illegal arrest, detention and torture of children to force
them to admit that they were members of the underground New People’s Army. Upon
investigation, these children were proven to be children of residents of the
communities where there were ongoing military operations. They have been taken
from their communities and uprooted from their simple lives and have
experienced severe distress and fear.
Palabay and Mapanao were joined in the Philippine UPR Watch
delegation by their colleagues from the Philippines Atty. Edre Olalia
of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) and the International
Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL); Nardy Sabino of the Promotion of
the Church People’s Response (PCPR); and Sr. Stella Matutina of the
environmental advocacy group, Panalipdan! Mindanao and Barug Katungod
Mindanao consortium of human rights defenders.
The group has met and briefed several foreign diplomatic
missions and various international NGOs based in Geneva as well as
representatives of UN human rights special procedures and the Filipino migrant
community on the state of human rights in the Philippines. They have expressed
deep concern and keen interest over the reports on the ground and shared the
overwhelming clamor to have the perpetrators accountable particularly the likes
of Gen. Palparan who has thumbed his nose at the government as he continues to
be in hiding.
The Philippine government will be subjected to the mandatory
second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the UN Human Rights
Council this May 28 to June 3, 2012, where its compliance with its obligations
to international human rights covenants and its responses to the
recommendations during the first UPR cycle in 2008 will be put to international
Please see the
video on the Oral Intervention on the Report of the United Nation Special Representative to the Secretary General