Updated April 30, 2009 12:00 AM
CEBU, Philippines – At least 27 cases of human rights violations involving 29 individuals and 121 households were recorded by human rights group Karapatan in Central Visayas for the first quarter of 2009.
In a forum centered on the topic, “Human Dignity Under Threat: Reflections on Human Rights in the 1st Quarter of 2009,” Karapatan Secretary General Dennis Abarrientos said these violations ranged from killings, torture, to harassment.
also see Alston’s Follow-Up Report on the Philippines: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/11session/A.HRC.11.2.Add.8.pdf
Aside from this, 118 households or over 200 families were dislocated in three demolitions during the first quarter, Abarrientos said.
Abarrientos said four incidents of political killings also occurred in the first quarter wherein the victims all came from Santa Catalina town in Negros Oriental.
The four- Francisco Alegado, Francisco Julanero, Ronel Raguing and Julito Quirante-were reportedly members of the provincial peasant alliance Kapunungan Alang sa Ugma sa Gagmay’ng Mag-uuma sa Oriental Negros.
Quirante’s wife Alejandra who attended yesterday’s forum narrated how her husband was killed.
“Naglakaw ra akong bana sa dalan niya gipatay, wa lang gani ko kahibaw,” Alejandra said, adding that she still gets scared each time she recalls the incident.
Gary King, a member of international human rights group Amnesty International yesterday commended Karapatan for its documentation of human rights violations.
AI representatives are in the Philippines to investigate recent human rights violations here, including that of Rebelyn Piyago, the daughter of alleged New People’s Army leader “Parago” in Davao, who was raped and killed. AI is also looking into the alleged torturing of alleged NPA leader Ramon Patriarca.
“We must learn the lesson Martial Law has taught us, that is- if we don’t fight for our rights then we will not attain the democracy we long for. It also reminds us that we can put down administration that does not advance human rights but rather stands first in violating it,” Abarrientos said.
Godofredo Ponteras III, a student of the University of the Philippines who is with Karapatan, said “the government continues to violate the human rights of the Filipinos. If they were able to allow or even execute these killings, then it would be easier for them to step on the rights of students by passing repressive policies that does not benefit us.”
Karapatan said these cases would reportedly indicate the trend “towards the escalation of human rights violations for the rest of the year. — Ana Coritha Desamparado (THE FREEMAN)