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Philippine Human Rights NGO’s bring to the attention of the UN the human rights situation of the country

Geneva, Switerland March 11, 2011 – The Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights Philippines (EcuVoice), an ecumenical delegation of Philippine human rights organizations for the defense and promotion of human rights, today brought to the attention of the United Nations Human Rights Council the continuing human rights violations and the continuing impunity in the country under Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, as the council conducts its 16th Regular Session this March 2011 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The delegation is headed by Philippine Independent Church Bishop Felixberto Calang and Karapatan Chairperson Marie Hilao Enriquez.

Speaking in the general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, Cristina Palabay of Karapatan and the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) expressed concern on the 40 cases of extra-judicial killings, 5 disappearances, illegal arrests and detention of 27 individuals from July 2010 to February 2011.

In her oral statement, she asserted that these cases indicate that the “vilification campaign against human rights defenders and the filing of fabricated charges against those who are being tagged as the government’s enemies in the context of implementing counter-insurgency programs such as the newly crafted Oplan Bayanihan of the Aquino government, continue.”

“There was no let-up in the spate of human rights violations from the Pres. Arroyo to the current government. Not one case under the Arroyo government has been rendered justice, not one perpetrator has been brought to jail,” said Palabay.

She cited cases concerning attacks against human rights defenders Benjie Bayles, who was shot dead on June 14, 2010, Benjaline Hernandez killed in 2002, and the case of Eden Marcellana and Eddie Gumanoy both killed in 2003. She also mentioned the military raid of the provincial office of Karapatan which occurred during the incumbency of President Benigno Aquino. In that raid, four human rights workers were illegally arrested and detained.

Geneva-based Franciscans International, in a joint statement, also expressed concern on the killings of human rights defenders in the Philippines. The international organization expressed that “enforced or involuntary disappearances were practices that often went hand in hand with extrajudicial killings and torture, the main targets were political and community activists who had criticized government policies.”

Bishop Calang, Enriquez and Palabay were joined in the EcuVoice delegation by Dr. Merry Mia Clamor, one of the Morong 43 health workers illegally arrested and detained in February last year; Atty. Ephraim Cortez of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, Girlie Padilla of the Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace, and Rhonda Ramiro of the San Francisco Committee on Human Rights in the Philippines. Clamor, Cortez and Padilla are set to deliver their oral statements on March 14.

The delegation also met with and briefed foreign missions, international organizations and United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Margaret Sekkagya on the worsening human rights situation in the country under Aquino. Padilla and Cortez also spoke in the delegation’s side event co-sponsored with the International Movement Against Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) where they highlighted the cases of enforced disappearances under Aquino. #

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