From GMANews (Dec 11): Progressives critical of administration's human rights record
Several progressive groups commemorated International Human Rights Day on Monday with protest actions against the Aquino administration, which they found wanting as far as protecting human rights are concerned. “Both (President Benigno) Aquino III and the CHR (Commission on Human Rights) need to get their priorities straight. Instead of going after the culprits, they punish the victims,” Kabataan Partylist national president, lawyer Terry Ridon said. Kabataan staged a protest action in front of the CHR compound in Quezon City where government agencies had gathered to celebrate the occasion.
Ridon said CHR chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales has been ineffective and was a poster girl for Aquino’s human rights charade as evidenced by the arrest last December 3 of Randy Vegas and Raul Camposano of COURAGE, a progressive federation of government employees. The two were accused of participating in an ambush staged by the New Peoples Army (NPA) in Camarines Norte. He also slammed the promotion of Brig. Gen. Eduardo Año, one of the respondents in the abduction of activist Jonas Burgos, as head of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The group also cited the cases of activists Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, both of whom remain missing. The principal suspect in their disappearance was retired AFP chief Jovito Palparan, who remained at large. “We condemn these human rights violations and the impunity [with which they are] perpetrated by the administration. The youth will not stand by and watch their country, future and civil liberties be torn into shreds by programs like Oplan Bayanihan,” said Ridon.
Later in the day, Kabataan joined the protests at Mendiola along with Anakbayan; Karapatan; Panalipdan! Mindanao; Kalumaran, an organization of Lumad or indigenous peoples from Mindanao; and Bayan-Southern Tagalog. During the protest, Anakbayan called for a ban on military personnel in all schools and at all levels across the nation, as they alleged a resurgence in various forms of “campus militarization.” “In the more remote areas, the AFP has been violating international laws and agreements by using schools for their camps, deliberately putting children and teachers in harm’s way as their ‘human shields’,” said Vencer Crisostomo, national chairperson of Anakbayan. “In urban areas, especially in colleges and universities, the military presence takes on a more insidious form: through their so-called forums where they threaten and harass youth activists, and through the re-activation of the ‘Student Intelligence Network',” he added.
Meanwhile, Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, said among the 129 victims of extrajudicial killings that they have documented, 69 were farmers and 25 were indigenous peoples. Most of those killed in Mindanao were anti-mining activists and Lumad leaders who defended their land and the environment against the intrusion of big foreign mining corporations. Karapatan also believed abuses by the military continue because of Oplan Bayanihan, the government's anti-insurgency program.
Militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said that Rolando Quijano, a farmer and active member of the Alliance of Farmers Union in Zamboanga Del Sur (AFUZS-KMP), was allegedly shot to death last Friday in San Miguel Town by elements of the Philippine Army's 53rd Infantry Battalion. KMP spokesperson Antonio Flores said Quijano’s relatives and colleagues believe his death was due to his active opposition to large-scale mining and illegal logging in Zamboanga Del Sur. “The extrajudicial killing of Quijano by suspected state security forces clearly shows that the culture of impunity prevails under the Aquino administration,” said Flores.....