ISSN 2330-717X

Philippines: Two Years Under Aquino, Abuses Go Unpunished, Says HRW

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President Benigno Aquino III of the Philippines has not fulfilled his promises to hold accountable the security forces responsible for serious abuses since taking office two years ago. The Aquino government has not successfully prosecuted a single case of extrajudicial killing or enforced disappearance, including those committed during his presidency, Human Rights Watch said.

In his inaugural speech on June 30, 2010, Aquino gave “marching orders” to the Justice Department to “begin the process of providing true and complete justice for all.” Five months later, at an event to commemorate human rights, he said that, “The culture of silence, injustice and impunity that once reigned is now a thing of the past.” And during his 2011 State of the Nation Address, Aquino reiterated this commitment, saying, “We are aware that the attainment of true justice does not end in the filing of cases, but in the conviction of criminals.”

“President Aquino has not lived up to his promises to bring those responsible for serious abuses to justice,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Concrete measures – rather than more promises – are needed now.”

Human Rights Watch today released a video, “Philippines: No Justice for Victims of Enforced Disappearances,” in which family members of the “disappeared” call on the president to live up to his promises of justice.

Human Rights Watch, in its 2011 report “No Justice Just Adds to the Pain,” documented 10 cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances since Aquino took office. No one has been arrested in any of these cases, and the three “disappeared” people remain missing.

The Aquino administration has not taken the needed steps to bring recent cases of serious abuse to trial, Human Rights Watch said.

In his first State of the Nation Address in July 2010, President Aquino noted the case of Francisco Baldomero, an activist from Aklan province who was killed on July 5, 2010, as among those “on their way to being resolved.” An arrest warrant has been issued for Dindo Ancero in the case, but he has not been apprehended and the case was “archived” – put on hold – in January 2011.

An arrest warrant was issued but never served for one of two suspects in the killing of Rene Quirante, a left-wing activist who was beaten and shot by uniformed men on October 1, 2010, in Negros Oriental province. A relative of Quirante’s has alleged that the suspect has been seen in the company of soldiers. “Nothing is happening,” Quirante’s relative told Human Rights Watch in April. “We’re growing tired of waiting for justice.”

Human Rights Watch has monitored progress on cases of killings and enforced disappearances under the previous administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. If progress has been made, it is often because of the perseverance and courage of family members, rather than aggressive action by police and prosecutors, Human Rights Watch said.

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