Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Philippine activists slam 'hypocritical' US rights report

From UCANews (Mar 3): Philippine activists slam 'hypocritical' US rights report

Washington helps to fund military abuses, says Karapatan

Human rights group Karapatan said on Monday that a report from the US on human rights abuses in the Philippines is "hypocritical." It also claimed that the US is responsible for abuses in the country.

"The US government foments human rights abuses in the Philippines by filling up the military war chest of the Aquino government," said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general.

Her remarks came in response to a report by the US State Department, released last week, which criticized the Philippines for failing to stamp out extrajudicial killings.

"The [Philippine] government continued to investigate and prosecute only a limited number of reported human rights abuses and concerns about impunity persisted," the report noted.

The report further noted that the "most significant human rights problems continued to be extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances undertaken by security forces".

The report also criticized the "dysfunctional criminal justice system" in the country, "notable for poor cooperation between police and investigators, few prosecutions and lengthy procedural delays," along with "widespread official corruption and abuse of power".

The Philippines Commission on Human Rights admitted in a statement that there were indeed few convictions for extrajudicial killings during the Aquino administration, but added that there have been "improvements".

The presidential palace on Saturday said it is taking note of the US criticism. "We'll have the national government agencies go through it and address particular areas of concern, focusing on what can be done to further our efforts," said Abigail Valte, Aquino's spokesperson.

Palabay took note of the "prompt response" of the Aquino government to the US report "while practically ignoring the killings that have been going on since Aquino’s presidency. She noted how the government "immediately dismissed documented human rights violations perpetrated by state forces as 'communist propaganda'."

From July 2010 to December 2013, Karapatan documented 169 victims of extrajudicial killings. In the first six weeks of 2014, Karapatan has documented six more victims.

She said impunity in the Philippines persists "precisely because of US backing," adding that the US$40 million US military aid to the Philippines is used to implement "Operation Plan Bayanihan [Cooperation]," a program aimed at ending a 45-year-old insurgency led by the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army.

The State Department report came out two months after US Secretary of State John Kerry pledged $40 million of military aid to the Philippines.

"The US government is trying to soften its image among Filipinos and also in the international community as it prepares for an increased and permanent presence in the Philippines for its vaunted Asian pivot," Palabay said.

The "pivot" is an initiative of the Obama administration that is meant to be a strategic "re-balancing" of US interests from Europe and the Middle East toward East Asia.

Talks have been ongoing between the US and the Philippines for the latter to resume hosting military forces in former US military bases in the country.

1 comment:

  1. KARAPATAN (Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights) is the main Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) umbrella human rights front organization.

    KARAPATAN vehemently denies any ties to the CPP but a comparison of the themes/messages articulated by the group's secretary general, Cristina Palabay in the article above are remarkably consistent with those contained in the CPP statement issued on the same day. It seems more than just a coincidence that the KARAPATAN and CPP statements were issued almost simultaneously on March 3. See CPP statement below:

    Obama, Aquino equally drenched with the blood of victims of rights abuses—CPP

    The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) charged that the US government is just as responsible as the Aquino regime for the grave violations of human rights perpetrated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and various state paramilitaries under the regime’s Oplan Bayanihan.

    The CPP statement was issued in reaction to the published contents of the US State Department’s 2013 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices which cited continuing extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances undertaken by security forces in the Philippines.

    “The US government cannot feign innocence because it has been providing the AFP and its agencies with military advice, training and aid. In fact, the AFP’s current campaign of suppression deceitfully named Oplan Bayanihan was drafted under the close supervision of US military advisers and patterned after the US government’s Counter-Insurgency Guide of 2009,” said the CPP.

    “Under Oplan Bayanihan, entire communities are being militarized, with the people’s human rights abused by the operating units of the AFP in the name of so-called peace and development,” said the CPP. “US military advisers have taught the AFP to describe every campaign of suppression as ‘peace and development’ in hopes of concealing the brutalities and abuses daily being committed by the fascist troops against the people.”

    “Furthermore, since 2011, the US government has increased Foreign Military Financing to the Aquino government by almost 300% from USD11.9 million to USD40 million in 2013 in order to enhance the capacity of the AFP and reward Aquino for allowing the US unrestricted access for its rotational warships and troops.”

    The CPP described the US human rights report as an effort to “wash its hands of responsibility over the dismal state of human rights in the Philippines.”

    “While describing the serious human rights abuses in the Philippines, the US has understated the extent of the violations by citing dubious figures from police and other government agencies and downplaying more accurate reports coming from independent human rights organizations,” pointed out the CPP. “It does not even make mention of Oplan Bayanihan nor of the fact that rights abuses perpetrated by the AFP are being committed under this US-designed campaign of suppression.”

    “The US report failed to point out that since he assumed power in 2010, Aquino’s armed forces and armed paramilitaries have perpetrated an average of one extrajudicial killing per week, racking up a total of 164 cases,” said the CPP. “This pattern continues to date, with six cases since January.”

    “The CPP calls on the Filipino people to raise their voices of protest against human rights abuses being committed by the US-backed Aquino regime.”

    “The scheduled visit of US President Barack Obama in April must furthermore be greeted with protests demanding an end to US military aid to the AFP, denouncing US interventionism in the Philippines and condemning violations of Philippine sovereignty with the increasing frequency of US war vessel dockings in Philippine territorial waters and the permanent stationing of US troops in exclusive facilities in the Philippines.”


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