23 March 2014
AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista earned the ire of victims of human rights violations after calling the arrest of alleged high-ranking NPA leaders Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria as “justice.”
“No way,” said Ernan Baldomero, vice-chairperson of Hustisya (Victims United for Justice), “we want plunderers, corrupt politicians and human rights violators punished, not the people who are part of the peace negotiations with the government.”
According to Baldomero, the arrest of the Tiamzon and Austria showed the disinterest of the government in pursuing the peace talks. Ernan is the son of Fernando Baldomero, first of the 174 victims of extrajudicial killings under Pres. Aquino.
“If the government is for the peace talks, why do they arrest and detain the other party to the negotiations? If they want to address the roots of the armed conflict, why do they kill, abduct, arrest and torture dissenters of the government’s anti-people policies?” said Baldomero.
For the families of victims of human rights violations, justice is served when perpetrators of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, illegal arrests and detention, and other human rights violations are arrested and punished.
“It may be retired general Jovito Palparan or the elements of the police and the military who killed my father; or soldiers and paramilitary forces who terrorize communities in the countryside. They are the enemies of the people,” he said.
In arresting Tiamzon and Austria, Baldomero said the Aquino government supposes it could get away from the human rights violations it has committed against the people.
“The government wishes to be vindicated from its crimes against the people and the people will be cowed in their clamor for justice. The military calls the arrest a way to justice, peace and development. There can be no justice as the government continues to violate people’s rights,” he said.
Rights groups scored the recent spate of killings, with an average of one victim killed a week. In the first 10 weeks of 2014, 11 activists, farmers and ordinary citizens were killed.
“The government continues to use full military might against the people. The people, in defense of their rights, continue to exercise their right to protest and rebel because they believe that peace through silencing dissent is not justice. Peace talks must resume now. Genuine justice should be served,” Baldomero said. ###
Reference: Ernan Baldomero, Hustisya vice-chairperson