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Aquino takes flak from rights groups

Premier accused of breaking promise to stop abuse

Aquino takes flak from rights groups

Aquino is still failing to curb abuses, human rights groups say

D'jay Lazaro and Jef Tupas, Manila

July 1, 2013

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President Benigno Aquino is still failing to keep campaign promises to curb extrajudicial killings and other rights violations after three years in office, Philippines human rights watchdog Karapatan said at the weekend.

At least 631 serious rights violation cases have been committed during Aquino’s presidency, 142 of which were extrajudicial killings and 16 enforced disappearances, the group says in a report released ahead of Aquino’s third anniversary in office this week.

“As predicted, the Aquino government in its third year, went on a rampage against its own people, attacking communities and individuals who stand in the way of private, local and foreign big business,’’ said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan chairperson.

New York-based Human Rights Watch, in its 2013 World Report released last month, noted how the Philippine government had “adopted landmark human rights legislation in 2012 but failed to make significant progress in holding the security forces accountable for serious abuses.”

"On prosecuting rights abusers, [the government] needs to walk the walk, not just talk the talk," Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said. 

Australian human rights defender Gill Boehringer described the Philippines over the weekend as “a paradise for the wealthy and purgatory for the rest.”

“The Aquino regime has dished up through an adoring media the self-serving and contentious message that the economy is doing well … and the protection of human rights is improving and is far better than under his predecessor,” Boehringer said yesterday in a statement.

But in reality, “it has failed to act to effectively prosecute and sanction human rights violators,” he said

Karapatan characterized Aquino’s three years as a “prime time for impunity.”

The group cited the inaction of the government over the murders of Italian priest Fausto Tentorio in 2011; Dutch development worker Willem Geertman in July 2012; environmental activist and journalist Gerry Ortega in 2011:  and the 58 victims of the 2009 massacre in Maguindanao province.

These killings are primarily the result of the government’s “anti-people economic policies,” said Karapatan's Hilao-Enriquez. The three years of Aquino have been three years of "violence and trickery," she added.

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