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February 7, 2008

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Task Force Usig Delisting of Karapatan EJK List Is Inexcusable

In their continuing effort to wash the hands of the State clean of its accountability for its human rights violations, the Task Force Usig has officially stricken off the 635 of 836 cases of extrajudicial killings from 2001 - 2007 reported by Karapatan, the Alliance for the Advancement of Human Rights. It has also again termed the extrajudicial killings as "unexplained".

This delisting comes in the light of the Philippine government's preparation for the Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights which is scheduled by April this year. In this international review, the Philippine government is obliged to submit a report this February and make a presentation in April on how it implemented its human rights obligations based on the UN conventions, treaties and agreements it signed. With the continuing international attention on the issue of political killings taking place with impunity in the country, the Philippine government still continues to downgrade the alarming rate of political killings by not acknowledging the actual cases of more than 800 documented cases.

The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) finds this deceptive statement of the Task Force Usig inexcusable. It is highly deplorable and a cause for serious concern as it continues to deny justice to ALL victims of political killings. This heinous crime against humanity is not a numbers game but a fundamental violation to the basic rights of citizens to right to life, to freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of mobility. It is an utter failure of the State not just to protect and secure its citizens, but an outright violation of its international obligation to respect and promote human rights. Further, it also demonstrates the lack of interest of the Philippine government to fully address these cases and provide justice to the families of victims of political killings. To date, only a handful of cases of political killings are under prosecution while a majority of cases remain unresolved and investigations are biased and not thorough.

In the Cordillera Region, there are at least 18 documented cases of extrajudicial killings. Among the victims are Romy Sanchez, Jose "Pepe" Manegdeg, Albert Terredano, Gloria Casuga, Markus Bangit and Alyce Claver. The families of these victims are still demanding concrete actions from the government to solve these cases and to deliver justice for their loved ones.

With this latest attempt to cover up and deny the factual record of systematic human rights violations of the State, we cannot expect this government to make itself accountable to its international human rights obligations. Thus, we call on all human rights advocates and concerned Filipinos to decry this deception and to continue to expose the true state of human rights in the country. We should not allow the upcoming Universal Periodic Review of the United National Human Rights Council to be a venue for the government to wash its dirty and bloody hands in assaulting citizens working for peace, social justice and public accountability. The Macapagal-Arroyo regime should be held liable for its record of human rights violations by the international community. Finally, we must continue to demand justice for all victims of human rights violations, and demand to have a government that will uphold and respect the rights of its citizens.#


Atty. Reynaldo Cortes
Cordillera Human Rights Alliance


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