Asian rights group calls PHL ‘broken and lawless nation’

In one of the harsher foreign assessments of the Philippines in recent times, a Hong Kong-based human rights group has called the Philippines a “broken and lawless nation.”

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) drew this conclusion after two more recent murders in Mindanao, where the victims were executed in front of family members, one of them in the presence of three young daughters.

But the non-government body also made an apparent reference to the eight Hong Kong tourists who died in the Manila hostage crisis last August 23 after botched police negotiations and a rescue attempt, describing the Philippines as a place where citizens “cannot hope to protect the foreigners on its soil.”

‘A broken and lawless nation’

In an article on its web site, the AHRC stated:

“In a country where an individual can no longer protect himself, he cannot protect his family; a family that cannot protect its members, cannot protect the community where they belong; and a person, a family and a community that cannot protect itself cannot protect a Nation. A Nation that cannot protect its own citizens, their families and the community where they live cannot hope to protect the foreigners on its soil. It is a broken and lawless nation.”

AHRC said it has become an “illusion” and “absurdity” for anyone to claim that there is protection and security for people in the Philippines.

The Philippine National Police and government spokesmen have a habit of assuring the foreign community that the country is safe, in the face of travel advisories to the contrary issued by foreign governments.

The human rights body said it has become ordinary for killings to be carried out by policemen, the military and the paramilitary forces working for them, and for killings to be perpetrated in broad daylight in crowded public places and in front of the victims’ families in their own homes.

Unreported cases

“Hundreds if not thousands” of stories go unreported and this has been taking place in the country for many years now, the AHRC lamented.

“A system of justice can still continue to exist on paper, structure and appearance, but its existence is meaningless once it departs from its original role of being a protector, it becomes the very opposite of what it was supposed to be; that is the protector of those within the system, protecting those who are already protected; securing those who are already secured. This is the type system that each Filipino lives in daily in their own country. Unless there is a discussion and organic realization by those who are part of the system of the need for reform to reexamine their purpose, its existence remains an object of contempt,” it said.

Mindanao murders

The AHRC cited the murders of Reynaldo Labrador of Davao City and Vicente Felisilda of Mawab, Compostela Valley, who were executed in front of their families.

Labrador, 39, was shot at 7:30 p.m. last Sept. 3 in front of wife Leonisa and daughters Reylon, 10; Raquel, 8; and Jennifer, 4, at their home in Paquibato District in Davao City.

He was a member of the Paquibato District Farmers Association (PADIFA), a local chapter of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).

The gunmen escaped after the shooting. They left a note at the victim’s house that read: “Demonyo ka! Hiposon ka!” (You’re evil! You must be killed!)

Felisilda, 38, a farmer with four children and a member of Bayan Muna, was shot dead last September 9 at 7 p.m.

Both the KMP and Bayan Muna are leftist groups that the military has tagged as being communist front organizations. The Philippines has seen a spate of extrajudicial killings of activists committed by what international observers say are agents acting on behalf of the military, or by soldiers themselves.

What happened to Felisilda illustrates the brazenness exhibited by killers in the prevailing culture of impunity, the groups claimed.

The victim and and his elder brother Allan were resting inside a small hut in Mawab town, Compostela Valley after extracting meat from coconut shells on their farm.

While the brothers were resting, two gunmen arrived. They were wearing civilian clothes and armed with cal-.45 pistols.

“At first the two greeted the brothers and tried to make conversation with them by asking what they were doing. However, suddenly one of them shot Vicente at close range. Startled by what he saw, Allan ran for safety to a cliff nearby,” the AHRC said. – HS/TJD, GMANews.TV

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