Human rights violations continue without let-up even in the new, righteous Aquino administration, according to a farmer who said he was abducted by the military in 2006.
“Killings, torture and illegal arrests continue,” said Raymond Manalo, a prosecution witness in the trial of two soldiers accused in the kidnapping of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan.
Manalo, who spoke at a human rights forum at the Mandarin Oriental hotel Tuesday, repeated the testimony he gave at the court trial last September in which he said he witnessed Empeño and Cadapan being beaten and tortured by soldiers in a camp in Limay, Bataan, shortly after they disappeared in 2006.
Quezon Rep. Erin Tañada, an administration ally, quoted an observation that the human rights situation in the country “is good on paper, not so much in real life.”
“This, I am afraid, continues to be the situation now, with no successful prosecutions that we can attribute to the new laws that we toiled for so arduously,” Tañada told the forum organized by the European Union and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) ahead of International Human Rights Day on Dec. 10.
“The systemic inability to enforce human rights laws is itself a betrayal of our government’s stated and consistent commitment to human rights, and is not something that we should be content with,” the congressman said.
“That would make us, at best, a fake adherent to human rights principles, and at worst, a pernicious perpetrator of human rights abuse,” he said.
Tañada said the human rights situation has improved under the Aquino administration but “there’s a lot more to improve.”Tarra Quismundo