UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
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Philippines

HUMAN RIGHTS MEETING PROVOKES CRITICISM OF ´TOTAL WAR´ POLICY

Updated: May 17, 1990 05:00 PM GMT
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Critics say President Corazon Aquino´s "total war" policy against communist rebels stains her government´s human rights image.

In a speech opening the United Nations-sponsored First Asia-Pacific Human Rights Workshop which ended here May 11, Aquino admitted human rights abuses are committed but said this is neither a pattern or policy of the government.

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) noted however that shortly after Aquino spoke, two babies were hit in a reported shootout between the military and suspected rebels in a Manila suburb.

"Violations such as this are duplicated all over the Philippines, especially in the rural areas ... as a result of the government´s total war policy," the group says.

Aquino declared war shortly after a 60-day ceasefire with the rebels´ collapsed in 1987.

PAHRA, which represents more than 100 non-government human rights groups, addressed its written response to Jan Martenson, U.N. undersecretary-general for Human Rights, who led the week-long meeting.

Government reports claim there were 383 fewer cases of human rights violations, less killings, disappearances, torture and arbitrary detention reported in 1989 than in 1988.

Church-related groups, such as Task Force Detainees of the Association of Major Religious Superiors, report different figures but show the same trend.

Other reports not presented at the U.N. meeting also count as violations forced evacuations and deaths resulting from sickness in refugee centers for those fleeing military operations.

A Coordinating Body for Displaced Families document, based on non-government and parish reports, recorded at least 464,652 people were displaced by the insurgency war in 1988 and 1989.

A Bacolod Diocesan Pastoral Center report claims people in war-torn areas have few rights. "Their (soldiers) presence causes tension. They limit and check all our movement. We feel we can´t work or do things freely as long as they´re watching us," the report quoted a refugee as saying.

According to government reports at the U.N. workshop, violations by the paramilitary Citizens´ Armed Forces Geographic Units increased from 14 in 1988 to 89 last year.

-- Also on May 11 President Aquino said the Philippine ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child is coming soon.

She made the statement in her keynote address at the two-day U.N. Conference on the Convention of the Rights of the Child, held here to push for the ratification of the convention by some 22 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

END

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