December 10, 2010
Reference: Yoko Liriano, Coordinator, NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Credit Goes to People’s Struggle, Not a President’s Benevolence, for Withdrawal of Charges Against Morong 43
The New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) welcomes the recent order from Philippine President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino to the Department of Justice to withdraw all trumped up charges against the Morong 43 earlier today as a positive development in commemoration of International Human Rights Day. This only means the 43 healthworkers and two newborn babies, after suffering from 10 months in illegal detention, including documented cases of torture, can and must be released immediately by a court order.
Despite the welcoming of this victory, it is a victory that rightfully belongs to all those who stood on the right side of history– those who denounced the illegal raid, arrest, detention, and torture of the 43 healthworkers from the very beginning. In the final analysis, Aquino’s order was the result of overwhelming pressure generated by an international people’s movement and struggle– as the cries for the release of the Morong 43 surpassed the Philippines and were heard from all corners of the globe– for nearly a year. Most of all, this victory belongs to the Morong 43 themselves, whose strength and resolve against the most oppressive of circumstances set the example of resistance against tyranny and will inspire generations to come.
The withdrawal of charges of the Morong 43, however, does not pull the spotlight away from the ongoing human rights abuses in the country under P-Noy’s term so far. The declared illegitimacy of the Morong 43’s arrest and detention by the executive himself should be followed by proper accountability measures of the security forces involved.
Aquino still has a long way to go in proving he has a genuine agenda to uphold and defend human rights in the Philippines. After 9 years of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the worst perpetrator of crimes against humanity since Marcos; hopes for justice with Aquino were very high. However, as with every Philippine government, a higher organ of power pulls the strings; Philippine, state-sponsored repression is funded by US tax dollars.
Averaging with at least one a week, the first 4 months of Aquino’s presidency has already been tainted with 22 extra-judicial killings. With the end of the last term of GMA also being the deadline for Oplan Bantay Laya II, the public was hoping for the end of the rampant human rights violations that plagued the Philippines for so many years. However, OBL II, the most brutal and vicious, counter-insurgency plan of any Philippine government, has been extended under Aquino against the cries of protest of the victims, their families, and international community.
President Aquino promised, upon taking office, to launch an investigation on the former President, Gloria M. Arroyo, specifically for corruption and human rights violations. While the prosecution of Arroyo is highly anticipated, Oplan Bantay Laya II was hardly an original plan; it was based on the countless US-sponsored, designed, and failed counter-insurgency programs in the Philippines and in other countries in which the US has colonial ties.
The apparent violation of international human rights law, even after numerous recommendations from the UN and various human rights advocacy organizations, has yet to faze the US taxpayers in realizing that tens of millions of US tax dollars are budgeted for the Philippine military. Obvious US advantages in using the Philippines as a permanent base for US troops via the VFA holds a cloud over the Philippine government, seeing as it would be hypocritical for the US to call attention to human rights violations in the Philippines without holding itself accountable. Citing such examples like the Nicole- Daniel Smith rape case and the very recent Gregan Cardeno “mysterious death” case would shed some light on the culture of impunity shared by the US and Philippine government and military. In addition, President Aquino has also just recently accepted the US Millennium grant of $434 million dollars, which is also earmarked for counter-insurgency plans.
This International Human Rights Day, progressive human rights organizations, especially in the international community will not waver in their demands for justice for all victims of human rights violations and the strict observation of International Human Rights Law!
SCRAP OBL NOW!
STOP USING US TAX DOLLARS TO FUND HRVs IN THE PHILIPPINES!