Print Version    Email to Friend
We have had the reviews act now

Quezon City (UCAN) : Human Rights Watch urged the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council to press The Philippines to commitments on rights abuses ahead of a review of the country’s progress in Geneva at the end of May.
“UN member states should see through the Philippine government’s rhetoric and question the lack of progress on accountability over the past four years,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director of the group.
The UN body was scheduled to hold its second Universal Periodic Review of The Philippines in Geneva on May 29.
In its first review in 2008, the UN rights body made 17 recommendations, 11 of which were accepted by the administration of the former president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, including “to completely eliminate torture and extrajudicial killings” and “to intensify its efforts to carry out investigations and prosecutions on extrajudicial killings and punish those responsible.”
However, the Human Rights Watch observed that since then, the government has only successfully prosecuted in four cases of extrajudicial murders.
In a statement, it added that the president, Noynoy Aquino, has thus far failed to take significant measures to prosecute members of the military, police and militias implicated in extrajudicial killings, torture and disappearances.
The group stated that last year it documented at least 10 cases of killings and disappearances attributed to security forces during Aquino’s first year in office, but none of which had led to a successful prosecution.
“The Philippine government is relentless in its pursuit of creating human rights task forces,” Pearson said at a press conference in Quezon City. “If only officials were just as relentless in pursuing the perpetrators of military abuses so that the victims might get justice,” he continued.
At the same time, a Christian group has repeated calls for the government to provide justice for 
18 Protestants killed by govern-ment forces during counter-
insurgency operations during the  Arroyo administration.
Irma Mepico-Balaba, from the Promotion of Church People’s Response in the Eastern Visayas islands, said her group observed the seventh death anniversary of one clergyman with sadness in their hearts because justice had yet to catch up with his killers.
Reverend Edison Lapuz, a member of the United Church of Christ in The Philippines and a minister of the North Eastern Leyte Conference, was killed on 12 May 2005 after attending the funeral of his father-in-law.
“Like others before him, Reverend Lapuz joined a growing list of Christian martyrs who have been killed because of their dedication to defend the powerless,” Balaba said.
She said the families of 18 members of the Church killed between 2004 and 2007 are still calling for justice.
In its report to the UN review, the government said it had fulfilled commitments to address abuses, welcoming a €3.9-million ($39 million) European Union-funded project to strengthen the criminal justice system as a major opportunity to stop extrajudicial murders and enforced disappearances.
The Human Rights Office of the Armed Forces of The Philippines said that the recent absence of prosecutions was because all of the human rights violation cases tagging military personnel were only accusations and did not produce sufficient evidence against soldiers.