Human Rights groups to file Morong 43 case in UN Rights Council

ANTIPOLO CITY, May 30, 2010—Human rights watchdog Karapatan and the Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights (Ecumenical Voice) are set to go to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland to formally file their complaint against the government and state forces, in line with the case of the 43 health workers who were arrested while in training in Morong, Rizal last February 5th.

Rev. Fr. Rex B. Reyes Jr., secretary-general of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP) and one of the conveners of the Ecumenical voice in a statement said, they will again bring to the attention of the international community the persistent and continuing violations to human rights under Oplan Bantay Laya, or the anti-insurgency campaign crafted by the Macapagal-Arroyo adminstration upon its assumption to office in 2001.

The pastor also said the nine-year reign of Mrs. Arroyo is “marked as the worst in terms of adherence to human rights instrumentalities.”

“With the implementation of OBL, the most vicious counterinsurgency program in recent memory, her government tops the scale of human rights violators in the country’s history since the martial law years,” he said.

Based on the records of Karapatan, there were 1,191 victims of extrajudicial killings, 205 victims of enforced disappearances; 1,028 victims of torture; and hundreds of thousands of people forcibly evacuated and displaced in rural areas as a result of military operations—all are but part of the implementation of the OBL.

“These [numbers] represent the scale and magnitude of the brutal impact of the OBL under a so-called democratic rule. The culture of impunity that characterized this assault on human dignity is second to none in recent years. When there is strong local and international pressure the Arroyo government is forced to “de-escalate” the number of human rights violations. But even if the numbers decreased there was no let-up in the violations, with impunity becoming more brazen as in the cases of the Ampatuan massacre and the illegal arrest and torture of the Morong 43. Whenever there is a lull in the pressure the number of violations shoots up again,” Fr. Reyes further explained.

The members of the delegation hope and pray that the UNHRC will press the Philippine government to adhere the human rights instrumentalities and immediately stop the human rights violations in the Philippines.

Fr. Reyes also said that having gone through a recent national election, they hope that UNHRC will help push the new Philippine government under presumptive President-apparent Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to fulfill his promise to prosecute President Macapagal-Arroyo, accord justice to the victims of human rights violations, end political repression, discontinue the OBL as a policy and never embark on any similar policy, and address the roots of the insurgency, namely poverty and injustice.

Meanwhile, members of the delegation that will visit UN are Fr. Rex Reyes, Jr. (General Secretary, NCCP), Ms. Marie Hilao-Enriquez (Chairperson, Karapatan), Atty. Edre Olalia (Acting Secretary General, National Union of People’s Lawyers), Mr. Jigs Clamor (Deputy Secretary General, Karapatan and husband of Dr. Merry Clamor of the Morong 43), and Atty. Carlos Zarate (Secretary General, Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao). (First published in