June 29, 2011
Rights group appraises P-Noy’s 1 year as weak on Human Rights
Rights group Task Force Detainees of the Philippines appraised President Aquino’s one year performance as weak, especially in the area of human rights respect and protection.
“P-Noy’s lack of an explicit policy on human rights, against torture and human rights violations, in particular, may be considered as the weakest link. This can be interpreted that P-Noy is either not in control or that human rights is not really part of his agenda,” Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director of TFDP said.
According to TFDP, after the legislation of Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, cases of torture still persist. Worse, perpetrators still operate with impunity.
Just recently, TFDP received reports of cases of harassment of human rights defenders in Bulacan by a certain Sgt. Mendoza and members of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU), and cases of torture and illegal arrests in Central Luzon and Mindanao.
“These cases prove that the “paradigm shift” that the officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been proclaiming still has a long way to go. The government must prove its sincerity and gain the people’s confidence.”
As per TFDP documentation for the period of 1986 up to April 2011, there have been 1,122 cases of torture involving 4,839 individuals as victims. After the enactment of the Anti-Torture Law, 42 cases involving 64 victims have been documented.
“Paradigm shift, as the authorities call it, must not remain a mere proclamation. It is a must that the military and the police discontinue their practice of torturing people. It is imperative that P-Noy looks into this matter seriously with urgency.”
In the same statement, TFDP reiterated its appeal for the release of all political prisoners. According to the group, a communication was already sent to the Office of the President regarding the urgency of the case of Tatay Umbrero. “We appealed for executive clemency since it is within P-Noy’s power to immediately act on the case of Tatay Umbrero. But the government responded by referring Umbrero’s case to the Board of Pardons and Parole,” TFDP said.
According to the group, “It is hard to comprehend why Umbrero’s case would not deserve the urgent and immediate attention and action of P-Noy. Is this not equally important as the issue of wangwang that merited inclusion in his previous State of the Nation Address? Is human rights not included in P-Noy’s matuwid na daan?”
Mariano Umbrero, 63 years old, is a political prisoner at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP). He was diagnosed with lung cancer, now on its fourth stage, and according to TFDP, his condition continues to worsen.
The United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) recommends among others that the Philippine Government educate its members specially its security sectors about the right not to be tortured. “How can P-Noy raise awareness among his ranks when he seems to be busy only with issues that will hit the headlines? Or could it be that it is P-Noy who needs human rights education?” TFDP concluded. ###
For more information please contact:
Egay Cabalitan Jr.
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)
Mobile number: 09219645017
Tel: 437 8054