News Release

June 4, 2009

Reference: Peter Arvin Jabido, NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, email: nychrp@gmail.com

New York– A New York City-based rights group is chiding the recent statement of Philippine Executive Secretary claiming so-called “progress” made by the Philippine government in the field of human rights acknowledged by United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Philip Alston in his 2009 follow-up country report on the Philippines. In the statement, Ermita heavily credits the revival of the Philippine Human Rights Commission (PHRC). He also states that “highly-credible investigation of alleged death squads in Davao has been opened and that the Government continues to announce new initiatives designed to reduce the number of killings and identify those responsible.”

“Ermita is omitting a lot in this statement. By and large, pages 6-8 of the Alston 2009 report lists a number of strong criticisms of the Philippine government in its failure to implement his 2007 recommendations, such as reforms directed at institutionalizing the reduction of killings of leftist activists and ensuring command responsibility for abuses committed,” states Lolan Sevilla of the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP).

Alston also reported that witness protection programs in the country remain “grossly inadequate” and that “impunity for unlawful killings remains widespread.”

Sevilla also noted the weak credibility of the PHRC, as exposed with its accusation that the May 19th abduction and torture of Filipino-American human rights worker Melissa Roxas in Tarlac was a so-called fabrication, even citing sources such as the Asian Federation of Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD). In the statement, the PHRC claimed the AFAD’s investigations revealed no police reports filed on the May 19th abduction. An public letter from AFAD later refuted the claims of the PHRC as false and denied ownership of the findings claimed by the PHRC to be AFAD’s. The actual police report filed by police in La Paz, Tarlac has since been revealed to the media and is available for downloading online.

“This just proves Ermita can’t be trusted and discredits the validity of any claim made by the PHRC or any Ermita-led human rights authority, including how they interpret Philip Alston’s report,” Sevilla added.

In the meantime, another UN body, the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) also released a report on the Philippines raising concerns over the existence of torture and ill-treatment of detainees in the Philippines. Earlier this year, two torture survivors from the Philippines, Pastor Berlin Guerrero and Raymond Manalo testified in front of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on their experiences being tortured by the Philippine military while in unlawful detainment.

NYCHRP will be sponsoring, along with other Filipino and church groups across the nation, a one-day emergency human rights summit on the Philippines this Saturday, June 6th in Washington DC. The said summit will be held at the United Methodist Building and is co-sponsored by the National Association of Filipino-American United Methodists. ###

Attached:

1. 2009 Alston Follow-up report
2. UNCAT 2009 report on the Philippines


New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
www.nychrp,org
email: nychrp@gmail.com