No more denial: SONA 2012 should reflect continuing human rights violations
“We are testimony to injustice, impunity under Aquino” – victims and families
Families of political prisoners, victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, and other human rights violations will march together with various groups and sectors participating in the SONA protests nationwide tomorrow.
“How dare Malacañang simply say that human rights violations have dwindled from the previous administration? We are the living proof to the continuing injustice, impunity under Pres. Aquino,” said Ernan Baldomero, vice-chairperson of Hustisya (Victims United for Justice).
Ernan is the son of Fernando Baldomero, the first victim of extrajudicial killing under the Aquino government. His father’s case was mentioned by Pres. Aquino’s SONA in 2010 as one of the cases where suspects have already been identified. However, after two years, the arrest warrant for the suspect has not been served. The case was archived at the Aklan Regional Trial Court due to lack of progress.
Baldomero presented his father’s case at the United Nations Human Rights Council in May to create pressure on the government to speed up the resolution on his father’s case. “Victims and their families have done everything, yet all the Aquino government did was to form task forces and issue statements to say they are doing everything,” Ernan declared.
Worse, according to Ernan, more fell victim to extrajudicial killings. According to Karapatan, there are now 99 victims of extrajudicial killings under Aquino’s term.
“It is highly irresponsible to accuse the victims and their families of merely blaming the government when in fact, we have the right and we have the proof to do so. Tell us, to whom shall we address these issues if not with the executive branch in charge of the justice system, and the president who is commander in chief of the armed forces?” Ernan asked.
Erlinda Cadapan, mother of missing UP student Sherlyn Cadapan, agreed that have they not filed a case against retired major general Jovito Palparan, and the other fugitives guilty of human rights violations, nothing would have happened.
“Now, Palparan remains a fugitive. A people’s manhunt was launched to arrest Palparan. Instead of pointing the finger back at us, why don’t the people in Malacañang prove that the military is not coddling him?” Cadapan stated.
Families of political prisoners, meanwhile, joined the protest as their kin held the last day of their hunger strike on the day of the SONA.
“Because they jailed our loved ones, we are the ones to fill in their places here,” said Ahmad Hamja, son of Muhamadiyah Hamja, one of the Moro political prisoners who were arrested during the term of Arroyo. Hamja remains a political prisoner to this day, based on trumped up charges of kidnapping.
The weeklong fasting was raised into a full blown hunger strike this week, to call for freedom for the 385 political prisoners in the country. Malacañang has denied the existence of political prisoners.
“The Aquino government is denying their existence because they made them look like common criminals,” said Hamja.
According to Hustisya, the Aquino government should stop making ridiculous statements that insult the victims.
“Aquino should admit in his SONA tomorrow that they have done nothing to achieve justice. All we want to hear is that they will arrest and punish the perpetrators, stop the killings and junk Oplan Bayanihan,” Ernan declared.
Oplan Bayanihan is the so-called “counter-insurgency” program of the Aquino government that, for victims of human rights violations, is no different from Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya. ###
Reference: Ernan Baldomero, Hustisya vice-chairperson, 0917-3286953 Cristina Guevarra, Hustisya secretary general, 0949-1772928