Palace hit for blaming courts on human rights slays

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Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

The Aquino administration came under fire Thursday for blaming the judiciary for the slow progress in the investigation of human rights abuses.

Responding to the contention of presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda that courts were to blame, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that only a small number of cases had been filed in courts.

The New York-based watchdog outlined several reasons: investigations were stalled; witnesses were afraid to come out or were the target of violence; law enforcers were either too inept or compromised to conduct thorough investigations; suspects were not arrested; and obstruction by the military whose personnel have been implicated in the abuses.

“We remind Lacierda that all these fall within the responsibility of the executive branch. And for him to say that he did not agree with HRW because index crimes are going down in the first quarter of the year is ludicrous,” Carlos Conde, HRW’s Asia division researcher, said in a statement. “Edwin Lacierda is uninformed at best, dishonest at worst.”

On Wednesday, Lacierda brushed aside HRW’s castigation of Mr. Aquino for failing to stop the killings of environmental activists, blaming the judiciary for the government’s failure to prosecute rights violators. He said the judiciary was separate from the executive branch.

On Thursday, Lacierda told reporters that the HRW should share with the government whatever evidence it had so that those responsible could be prosecuted.

He also said the military was doing its best to go after officials implicated in rights abuses.

“These people are being hunted down. And we will not stop until these people are found,” he said.

The HRW has documented the murderers of three critics of mining and energy projects allegedly by paramilitary forces since October 2011.

Several investigations by the HRW, the United Nations and the government’s own commissions have affirmed this, Conde said, adding that the United States has been withholding foreign military financing from the Philippines precisely because of abuses by military and paramilitary personnel.

“Instead of mouthing baseless retorts to discredit reports of military involvement in these abuses, the Aquino (administration) should start punishing officers and men in the Army who violate human rights,” he said.

‘Lamest of excuses’

The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), counsel for the families of missing activists Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, said the presidential spokesperson is “glued to ivory towers and should come down from the hill and see the reality from the ground.”

“It smacks of ignorance, if not duplicity, to conveniently invoke separation of powers this time and pass the buck solely to the courts for the government’s failure to punish perpetrators,” NUPL secretary general Edre Olalia said in a statement.

“It is simply the lamest of excuses, as it disregards the efforts of victims and their families to file cases against rights violators, no thanks to Aquino. It simply manifests this administration’s low regard for the pursuit of justice for the victims and, in putting an end to killings and impunity. With this frame of mind, it is no wonder why Major General Jovito Palparan Jr. remains free from arrest up to this time,” said Karapatan spokesperson Cristina Palabay.

Palparan has evaded arrest for the disappearance and illegal detention of Cadapan and Empeño.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes reminded the government that it was the victims who filed rights abuses cases, not the government.

“Fact is, the government has not shown much interest in human rights as seen from Aquino’s previous Sona speeches where the issue hardly merits any mention. When they do mention it now, palusot pa (they have to make excuses),” Reyes said.

NPA atrocities ignored

For its part, the Philippine Army on Thursday asked its critics why they were not talking about atrocities of the communist New People’s Army (NPA), its executions of militiamen and the use of land mines and child soldiers.

“Records will show that the number of reported human rights violations have dwindled over the years. We have also acted on the complaints about human rights abuses and sacked soldiers who committed abuses like the ones responsible for the alleged torture in Basilan,” said Major Harold Cabunoc, the Army spokesperson.

Cabunoc said the NPA had issued “press statements declaring our soldiers as criminals, and imposing the death penalty through executions.”

He cited the case of Gino Olugar, a militiaman who was executed by NPA rebels in Camarines Sur province, joining “the long list of militiamen” who had been killed by the group.

“Shall we forget the murder of Swiss and longtime North Cotabato resident Patrick Winneger? He was executed by the NPA on suspicion that he was a military supporter. We don’t need to resort to blind finger-pointing because the NPA owned up to the crime,” he said.

For its part, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said the HRW should support its claims with evidence.

In a briefing, the AFP public affairs chief, Colonel Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr., said the military has always been open to an investigation of its personnel over alleged human rights violations and extrajudicial killings.

“It has never been the policy of the AFP to use force beyond legal means,” Burgos said. With a report from Norman Bordadora

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • spearheads

    BS Aquino through his laughdog Lacierda is becoming popular for polluting the media with their dung everyday. On second thought, is it not that their battle cry is “matuwid na hintuturo?” Way to go clueless one!

  • Arcsolo

    i remember Gloria once blamed the media for her inaccurate image (whatever that was). and here we are by way of Presidential Tounge: it seems they never run out of reasons to justify their inability to address the problem. i think its becoming a trend of this administration. dont you know when to pause and think first, before giving away replies that make you small?

  • tra6Gpeche

    I am wondering why the Communist NPA is still around. During the time of President Ramon Magsaysay, this unlawful and violent group was very much weakened if not completely wiped out by his administration. What is the problem with our present Philippine Military? The other very small but violent group that exists is the Abu Sayyaf or Harakat al-Islamiyya which seems to be free to do whatever they want to do in that part of the Philippines…the Southern Philippines.

    • tengri

      Sir, the communists guerrillas during Magsaysay’s time were the Huks (Hukbong Magpapalayang Bayan), formerly known as the Hukbalahap (Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon). The New People’s Army is a break-away group from the old HMB and they are supported by the masses that is the reason why they continued to exist to this day. As long as an unjust and exploitative society still exists the people’s army will always be there to serve the people. 

      • tra6Gpeche

        Thank you kabayan for the clarification. I found out that NPA was formed in 1969. As you said, it is a break away group from the Hukbalahap group chaired by Mr. Luis Taruc. Nevertheless, I disagree with you that the masses are supporting this break away group of Mr Jose Sison. I would say the correct word is intimidation, forcibly taking money from ordinary Filipinos and putting fear into the minds of people where they exist. My original question is: How come the government is unable to suppress or defeat a ragtag illegal group? This group has existed for 43 years and up to this time, this Maoist group is still a headache of the Philippine government. Again, what is the problem with the Military of the Philippine government? Is it really that weak and no backbone? By the way, I vehemently disagree with you that this NPA is there to serve the people. May be they are serving their own selves and their wayward ego.

      • marionics

        halu halo na ang mga dahilan niyan e. meron din talagang local support, meron ding intimidation, kasama na din ang corruption sa military.

      • tra6Gpeche

        Ayos ang sagot mo, kabayan. Your answer has more logic than edwin525. Good day!

      • edwin525

        It’s like asking why did America lost in Vietnam War. It’s difficult to beat guerrillas in a tropical and developing country.

      • tra6Gpeche

        I am inclined to believe that America lost the war to North Vietnamese because of the lack of political will of the American President, the American Congress and Senate and mostly and definitely because majority of American people were against such invasion with nothing to benefit from. As for the NPA, Philippine government is not invading the place where NPA exists (both of them will never be called invaders because they are both Filipinos), the Filipino people (I assume) are not against the Philippine Military attacking or annihilating this rebel group and NPA is a group that hinders the advancement and peace of all Filipinos including the relatives of this Maoist organization. I don’t see any comparison, kabayan.

      • edwin525

        I’m just comparing to point out how difficult for any army to win a guerrilla warfare, specially in a tropical place where poor communities exists. You’re partly right with the Vietnam War… but let me point out that the decline of support back home in the U.S. is mainly a result of never ending fighting in Vietnam and apparent lack of purpose. They started the war with high support back home… but the war dragged out mainly because of the guerrilla tactics… then people started to question the purpose of the war. Well this is way off topic… :)

      • tra6Gpeche

        Tama ka rin kabayan. For me, I am thinking that the Philippine Military and the NPA are both Filipinos and they both know their surroundings very well. Kung napupuntahan ng NPA siguro naman ay mapupuntahan din ng Philippine Military. Sa tingin ko ay ayaw o walang gana ang mga Military na talagang tapusin ang mga NPA. Sa anong dahilan, mahirap talagang sagutin. Habang naghahasik ng gulo ang NPA, mahirap sigurong umunlad ang Pilipinas. Hindi naman matatalo ng NPA ang gobyerno. Kung hindi naman magagapi ang NPA, paulit-ulit lang ang mangyayari…..walang kahihinatnan ang bayan at ganoon din ang NPA. Hindi rin naman mapaasenso ng NPA ang lugar na pinaglalagian nila. Nagtayo na ba ng eskwelahan ang mga NPA sa pinaglalagian nila upang makatapos man lang ng high school ang mga bata? Ang trabaho lang nila ay manakot, mamilit at manggulo. Hay naku! Siguro kabayan ay sa NPA ko dapat itanong ang tanong kong ito. Nasasayang ang panahon nila at panahon ng gobyerno. Have a good day, kabayan!

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/R4YOCRZDE5JBDT7UGI54KTZD5M Jpb

        kaya nagkakaroon ng npa ay dahil gawa rin ng kapalpakan ng gobyerno. noong panahon ni marcos ay pinayagan niyang lapastangin ng mga corporations ang mga natural resources tulad ng mining at logging. dahil walang hawak na papeles ang mga tribung nagmamay-ari ng mga kabundukan at kagubatan ay wala sila magawa laban sa mga corporation na ito. ang solusyon na nakikita nila ay ang sumanib sa npa at lumaban sa mga corporations at sa gobyerno. ang gobyerno ang lumikha sa mga npa

      • tra6Gpeche

        Tamang-tama ka kabayan subalit siguro ay dapat nating kalimutan ang dahilan kung kaya nagkaroon ng mga rebeldeng NPA. Ang dapat nating sagutin ay nakakabuti ba  sa  bansang Pilipinas ang kanilang panghihimagsik na walang katuturan. May pagasa ba nilang maigupo ang gobyernong Pilipinas? Ano ba ang naitutulong nila sa lugar na pinagkukutaan nila? Umaasenso ba ang mga bata at mga pamilya sa kanilang kinalalagyan? Nakakapag-aral ba hanggang high school ang mga batang Pilipino sa lugar nila? Gumiginhawa ba ang mga ito na di tulad sa mga lugar na wala sila tulad ng Tondo at iba pang lugar? Wala bang pinapatay, pinipilit o tinatakot o natatakot sa lugar ng mga NPA? Kung magkaganoon kabayan, alisin na ang gobyernong Pilipinas at ipalit ang mga NPA. Alam kong hanggang ngayon ay napakaraming kurakot sa gobyerno mula sa mga Pulis at hanggang sa pinakamataas na pinuno subalit kung ako ang tatanungin mo, balakid ang mga Komunistang NPA sa pag-unlad ng Pilipinas. Para sa akin ay pansarili lang ang kanilang adhikain at walang patutunguhan!

  • $23257130

    lacierda tuta ng abnoy. aw aw aw. noynoy abnoy berdugo ikulong yan

  • tengri

    Nakakatawa talaga itong AFP. They continued on maligning the NPA on the use of landmines when the NPAs were using command-detonated Claymore landmines and command-detonated anti-tank landmines. May I advice the AFP to do its homework and study the Ottawa Treaty. The
    treaty covers only anti-personnel mines. It does not address mixed mines, anti-tank mines, remote controlled claymore mines, anti-handling devices (booby-traps) and other “static” explosive devices. The Philippine Army also uses command-detonated and bobby-trap Claymore landmines to protect their camps and detachments which clearly shows their hypocrisy and complete disregard for the lives and limbs of residents who live nearby since they sometimes set up their detachments near civilian houses. Elite troops would sometimes use command-controlled Claymore landmines in ambushes. Maybe the reason why the AFP loathes the NPA’s use of these command-detonated landmines is that they provide the NPAs with low-cost and yet highly-effective firepower while the AFP mainly relies on expensive, dangerous and highly-ineffective OV-10 Broncos and Hueys which only succeeds in uprooting old trees and creating huge craters in the forests, and sometimes killing not just innocent villagers but even their own pilots as well. 
     

    • tantra101

      Pero pre…siguro naman panahon na para bumaba sila …kailangang mapalitan na ang mga abusadong politiko…dito na lang sila sa baba makipaglaban… Masyado na kasing naapektohan ang bansa natin, ang taumbayan sa taktikang yan eh…marami ding umaabuso… At ayaw naman ng taumbayan yang idelohiyang yan o ibang gobyerno eh…kaya wag na nilang lang ipilit ipalunok sa amin dahil taumbayan pa rin ang magdedesisyon kung ano ang gusto nila at hinding-hindi ang CPP-NPA…. Dito na lang sa baba, marami pang makakarinig…

  • tengri

    P.S. Patrick Winneger was not “suspected of being a military supporter” by the NPAs. The NPAs knew that he was a military asset and even the military acknowledged that Mr. Winneger helped them a lot in its fight against the NPAs. 

  • billy gunner

    “Edwin Lacierda is uninformed at best, dishonest at worst.”

    Totally agree. This arrogant pr1ck was probably denied his mama’s milk as a child! no wonder he can’t think straight!

  • marionics

    tangina ilang araw nang boring ang mga balita. boring na din tuloy ang mga comments

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/R4YOCRZDE5JBDT7UGI54KTZD5M Jpb

    di na alam ang sasabihin ni lacierda kasi talaga naman mahirap harapin ang problemang yan. tulad ni palparan di rin mahagilap katulad din ng iba na laging may palusot.kung ganun talaga kadali eh bakit di kumilos ang HRW para magprisinta ng mga ebidensya at sabihin na rin kung saan siya nagtatago. lalo naman sasabihin na human rights abuses kung basta na lang ipakulong ang mga pinagsususpetsahan ng walang due process.dahil si PNoy ang presidente sa kanya lahat ng kasalanan   kahit panahon pa ni gloria noong dinukot yung mga activists.parang si gma din yung mga henchmen nya, mahirap makorner at kasalanan lahat ni PNoy yan kasi yun ang sabi ng NUPL at HRW. kasalanan ng iba pero sya pa rin sinisisi at ang naitutulong lang ay ang magbintang ng magbintang. labo talaga, pati ako nalalabuhan. dyan na nga kayo.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_E3CE56OQVPC4RPYD2NR4VD3SUE Bert

      Wag ka munang umalis and listen to this: PNOY is being blamed for UNRESOLVED extra-judicial killings dahil si PNOY na ang presidente. Di na si Macoy, di na si Erap or si Pandak. Do I need to explain further?

  • Palparan

    If CHR wants results, i suggest giving  Etta Rosales an M-16 and let her go look for those HR violators… para naman legitimate encounter kung sakaling magkaharap kami…hahahahaha!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7C3GEWHR7XBMEK4HIJPMDSRYPQ Justin

    An unfit ship is still an unfit ship no matter how we tag or make it look good….and it sails on blindly tugged by its blind leader…..good luck Philippines for having these loudmouth useless half-baked officials running the country voted by the majority idiots…..

  • wawa2172

    I agree with HRW on Lacierda. As a government spokesperson he has a job to do to cover Noy from bad publicity, accusation and embarrassment. He is a lawyer and paid by the administration to lie. He is a picture of a man who parrot the best that the government does but dishonesty is his policy when the government is being criticized. The government is looking good now because the people could also be blame for its lack of interest of realities going around us. Lesser poverty, hunger, crimes, corruptions,etc..have been deodorized by the media in favor of the government. HRW have all the reason to rebut Lacierda. The right violations happened during the time of Noy and nothing has been done. Blaming the court is baseless since its entirely the role of the executive to resolve all those right violations committed not only by the military bur also with the NPA. The ball is on the side of CHR and Etta Rosales to work doubly hard. The CHR should not only focus on the violations of the rightest but leftist. Etta is identified to have a left leaning ideals and she could also provide evidences on the atrocities done by the left. Lacierdas arrogance will have a toll to this government and it is now feeling the heat. Etta admitted the inefficiency of the executive to bring the cases in court. The DOJ Secretary de Lima is not performing well as she is more focus on being appointed as CJ of the supreme court and as to this time have not won any case for the government yet. Blaming the court on the inefficiency of the executive smack on the face of Lacierda, it his boss job to make sure that all rights violation be resolved and perpetrators put behind jail. Lacierda is just a mirror of the arrogance of Noy. The majority of the Filipinos voted for Noy does he must not sleep on his job and fire the people in his admin that do not perform well.  

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