Cristina Palabay & Edita Burgos, End Impunity Alliance Convenors
Bishop Reuel Norman Marigza, General Secretary of United Church of Christ in the Philippines
Angge Santos, Media Liaison for End Impunity Alliance, 09189790580
“While we welcome the issuance of arrest warrants for former Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. on charges of electoral fraud, we demand that they be charged for grave human rights violations they committed while in power. President Noynoy Aquino must strike while the iron is hot.”
Thus said Cristina Palabay, convenor of the End Impunity Alliance, at a protest action in Manila today during the first commemoration of the International Day to End Impunity. The End Impunity alliance, Karapatan, Bayan, Promotion of Church People’s Response and the College Editors Guild of the Philippines will join the contingent of media organizations led by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility.
The international commemorative event was declared such by the International Federation of Journalists and the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX) to recall the Ampatuan Massacre, which was committed two years ago, as one of the most brazen display of impunity against journalists and human rights defenders. Solidarity actions in offices of Philippine consulates and activities abroad will also be conducted by the Canada Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights in Vancouver, Canada; Bayan Canada in Vancouver, Ottawa, and Toronto consulates in Canada; Action Network Human Rights-Philippines in Germany; and the Amnesty International-US and the CA-NV United Methodist Church Philippine Solidarity Task Force in California. Chapters of Karapatan in Panay and Southern Mindanao will likewise conduct actions. (Attached are their statements and announcements.)
Palabay said “the numbers under the nine-year GMA regime are appalling—1,206 victims of extra judicial killings, 206 cases of enforced disappearances and thousands more unsolved human rights violations, including the Ampatuan massacre. The perpetrators of these crimes must not go unpunished.”
Mrs. Edita Burgos, convenor of the End Impunity Alliance and mother of disappeared activist Jonas said, “We will not stop our quest for justice until human rights violators are made to be accountable of their crimes and our lost loved ones who are victims of enforced disappearance under GMA’s counter-insurgency program are surfaced. We hope that the cases pending before the Courts will prosper and not become a futile pursuit for justice.”
“We are firm in our stand that the victims of extra-judicial killings and other gross human rights violations deserve no less than justice. Government institutions may debate endlessly on their varying legal opinions and jargon on the constitutionality of Arroyo’s arrest, but for victims and their families, GMA must pay, plain and simple. Our commitment to end impunity, however, will not end in GMA’s imprisonment. We will carry on, stand in witness against an unjust system and leaders who perpetuate this injustice, until extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearance are ended,” Burgos added.
Civil cases for alleged human rights violations filed against GMA are still pending in the Courts. Among these is the damage suit filed by the “Morong 43” for their illegal arrest, detention and torture. Another pending damage suit was filed by the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) in June 17, 2011. GMA was charged in the case for killings, torture, liquidation, harassment and illegal detention of UCCP members.
“It is our fervent prayer that the case filed by UCCP will be heard next. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo should answer for the crimes committed during her administration. Justice must be served for our slain compatriots. We should all be vigilant and ensure that the Aquino administration pursues these cases and prosecutes GMA and other human rights violators,” said UCCP Secretary General Reuel Marigza.
Marigza further explained that “impunity persists and gross human rights violations brazenly continue because those who should be held accountable for these crimes are still scot-free.”
“Impunity prevails. To date, there are already 55 victims of extrajudicial killings under the P-Noy administration, including the recent assassination of Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio. There is no let-up on military operations that target human rights defenders and whole communities. The killings of human rights defenders, ordinary citizens and journalists, among others, should stop,” Palabay ended. ###