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Report slates government 'inaction'

'No concrete action' on issues concerning the protection and promotion of human rights

Report slates government 'inaction'
Aurora Parong during the launch of Amnesty International's annual report on Friday
A year after the election of Benigno Aquino as president, the balance of justice in the country "continues to favor perpetrators." This was the assessment made by Aurora Corazon A. Parong, director of Amnesty International (AI) in the Philippines during the launch of AI's annual human rights report. Parong said the human rights community in the country "still have to see concrete action" from the government on issues concerning the protection and promotion of human rights. She said that despite the promise made by Aquino to address violations committed under the previous administrations, "there are still no actual accountability of officials and there is still no positive change in the lives of people." AI said more than 200 cases of enforced disappearances in the last decade remained unresolved, "as did at least 305 cases of extrajudicial killings." At least 38 alleged political killings were also reported during the year. Parong said almost no perpetrators of these crimes have been brought to justice and private armed groups continued to operate throughout the country. "We have not seen very concrete steps taken by the government to dismantle private armies," Parong said. In November last year, Aquino vowed that he would disband and disarm identified private armed groups even as he refused to abolish paramilitary groups, saying the armed forces needed these groups as "force multipliers." AI added its voice to the call to pass the controversial reproductive health bill now pending in Congress. Parong said the passage of the bill is a "significant step towards 'choosing life,' a step towards the realization of sexual and reproductive rights and maternal health rights." She said that sexual rights and reproductive rights are grounded on human rights recognized in international human rights treaties. "Respect for these rights is essential to human dignity and to the enjoyment of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being," Parong, a doctor, said. Parong said the government must ensure that women's rights are protected, adding that in the Philippines "there is a real danger that women's equality will be pushed aside. "Women deserve better, and their equality must be prioritized," she said. The group said its report shows that governments in all world regions and various countries, including the Philippines, "are failing to deliver the promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that is, freedom from fear and from want for everyone." PL14223

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