Press Statement – Baseless arrests, brutal dispersals, inaction on human rights violations, and kid-gloves treatment of GMA – Aquino administration perpetuates double standard of justice
The recent actions of the Aquino administration has shown not only lack of empathy for the ordinary people, but perpetuate a double standard of justice.
The demonstrations in Mendiola over the past days seeking fundamental reforms are treated as if they were presumptively criminal, instead of legitimate exercises of the basic right to freedom of speech, and to assemble peaceably and petition the government for redress of grievances.
The baseless arrests and brutal dispersal of protesters is a sign of pathetic paranoia by “law enforcement” agents. The police have been overzealous and grossly abused their power, even filing fantastic charges for sedition that did not hold water.
Perhaps Malacanang’s definition of “maximum tolerance” is misplaced. In principle, it was designed to be in favor of the rallyists, and it means that police must observe the highest degree of restraint during a public assembly. It is not a privilege that Pnoy and his spokesperson imperiously endow on the citizens. The Aquino administration has only acted otherwise: it quickly mobilized nine trucks of policemen and resorted to physical mauling and deprivation of liberty to restrain protesters.
Also, slow action, and most times, inaction, on human rights violations cultivate a climate of impunity where violators get away with crimes. Former president Gloria Arroyo, infamous for craft and cunning, could escape accountability, given this administration’s ambivalence and even sloth in filing strong cases against her. Any slower and further fidgeting and Aquino himself would be accessory to her offenses. Any current intramurals among the political and economic elite obscures signs of eventual accommodation and compromise.
PNoy should stop being confused with how to treat Arroyo. It is not the government’s responsibility to give her peace of mind, provide her conveniences, nor cheer her spirits. And certainly it is not the government’s business to give her special treatment. Her high crimes and abuse of power are in fact aggravating circumstances. It is his duty to make her accountable especially for gross human rights violations.
On International Human Rights day, human rights defenders have one common demand from PNoy: release all political prisoners. There are more than 350 political prisoners languishing in jail today, on hazy, even made up charges that penalize them for their political activism that he himself also benefitted.
Perpetrators for human rights violations must be held accountable. This is one chance for redemption before a frustrated people come claim justice for themselves. Those who forget the lessons of history are damned to repeat them. #
Reference: Atty. Edre U. Olalia, NUPL Secretary General, 0917-5113373
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers(NUPL)
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By calling yourselves the ‘people’s lawyer,’ you have made a remarkable choice. You decided not to remain in the sidelines. Where human rights are assaulted, you have chosen to sacrifice the comfort of the fence for the dangers of the battlefield. But only those who choose to fight on the battlefield live beyond irrelevance.” Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, in his message to the NUPL Founding Congress,Sept. 15, 2007.