Amsterdam, August 30, 2011 – – On the occasion of International Day of the Disappeared, the Rice and Rights Network for Human Rights in the Philippines affirmed its commitment to work for justice and human rights in the Philippines. The network expressed its continuing support the campaign of the Families of the Disappeared for Justice (Desaparecidos) to demand the release of those who have been abducted and are kept in secret detention places by agents of the Philippine military and police.
The term “desaparecidos” became widely used used in Argentina and other Latin American countries in the 1970s. Human rights researchers say around thirty countries, including the Philippines, still use abduction as a way to silence political opposition.
In the Philippines, cases of abductions of political activists committed under administration of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III show that human rights violations are committed with the same degree of impunity as during the time of his predecessor Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. There were 206 cases of abductions during the Arroyo administration. At least eight cases have been documented under the Aquino government.
Justice remains elusive to the victims of human rights violations. The number of cases of human rights violations continue to rise. None of the perpetrators have been punished. Despite strong evidence and credible eyewitness testimonies, cases have been dismissed. In some cases where the court has decided in favor of the victims, the military and police defied court orders to produce and release the victims.
“We urge the Filipino people to remain steadfast in the struggle for justice and human rights,” said Rice and Rights Network spokesperson Theo Droog, “We also call on the Dutch people and the rest of the international community to support this struggle.”
Even the prospect of the resumption of peace negotiations between the Aquino government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) seems dim as a result of the government panel’s refusal to honor previous documents and agreements forged by the two panels in the past.
“Some of the agreements were signed here in the Netherlands,” Droog added. “We urge Pres. Aquino to honor these commitments in order to pave the way towards the settlement of the root causes of the armed conflict.” The panels’ next agenda is to exchange drafts on social, economic and political reforms if the first ever signed joint agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP (the Hague Declaration of 1992) is to be honored.
Rice and Rights Network reiterates its call:
Surface the disappeared!
Release all political prisoners!
Justice to all victims of human rights violations!
Uphold human rights, freedom and democracy!