Archive for the ‘human rights’ Category

The forgotten Reynaldo Galman & his disappeared mother Lina

March 6, 2009

Reynaldo Galman condemns the granting of executive clemency to the 10 imprisoned convicted killers who blame Rolando Galman, his father, as Ninoy’s murderer. Joining the the family of Ninoy Aquino, he decries the fact that the brains behind the Aquino-Galman murders on August 21, 1983 remain undisclosed. He believes his father tagged by the Marcoses as a communist killer is just a fall guy in the blatant plot to kill Ninoy Aquino.

Barely an adolescent when the gruesome murders took place in the airport, son Reynaldo Galman could only recall his ordeal after his father was killed. He was only 10 years old when mother Lina Galman was abducted by unidentified men, never to be seen again after the airport murders investigation began. With only a sketchy memory of his parents to keep, Reynaldo lived the life of an orphan.

After more than two decades, many of the principal players who could have shed light on the heinous incident have died. They refused to tell the truth until the memory of the Filipinos has faded. President Gloria M. Arroyo thinks it’s now the ripe time to set free the incarcerated killers in spite of the unresolved questions surrounding the case.

The 10 soldiers of the Aviation Security Command (AVSECOM) part of the team tasked to provide security to Ninoy have stuck to the official Marcos story which portrayed Rolando Galman of Nueva Ecija as the killer. They insist the “hitman” broke the cordon of their very tight security. But the Aquinos, the Galmans, and the majority of the Filipinos who followed the investigation don’t believe this.

The ugly tail of injustice wags mockingly on Reynaldo Galman who lost a father. Like the Aquinos and the rest of the aggrieved Filipinos, he is one among the victims who waged the People Power in revulsion to the tarmac murders and government corruption. Yet this isn’t enough to make Arroyo desist from favoring the convicted military men in her discretionary clemency. She probably doesn’t know Reynaldo Galman and the rest of the Filipinos have been affected by the murders. Her political nemesis, Pres. Cory Aquino, the widow of Ninoy, aged and ailing, is mum over the pardon.

As one can see, life isn’t fair even on Ninoy Aquino whose towering life could have changed the course of the country’s governance. For giving his life, the martyred Marcos rival has been admired, but it didn’t take long before people forget his sacrifice. A number of his friends have abandoned his cause. Politics have a way of leading leaders like Gloria Arroyo to choose the low road against certain individuals—like Aquino who till his death insisted that “Filipinos are worth dying for.”

There are people who lie without conscience, condone moral aberrancy, and inflict incalculable cruelty on others. In the guise of handing down social justice, they welcome public apathy and forgetfulness, so that no one bothers to question. Expediency and rationalization have been part of how politics work in the country. (Photo Credits: Hoy_Sushi; Britt01)=0=

RELATED BLOG: “Pardon and (In)justice: Ninoy’s killers freed” Posted by mesiamd at 3/05/2009

========================================================

WB-funded road contracts & the US State Department’s charges of graft and corruption.

February 28, 2009

For some weeks now, World Bank (WB) tells us of the corruptive practice which rigs the bidding of the foreign bank-funded road projects in the Philippines. Instead of being thankful to the international lending institution for giving important leads to curb corruption, some of our government officials have been defensive.

Without tangible effort to find out the truth, supporters of the Arroyo government thought of filing a “diplomatic protest.” As if to way lay the investigation, Sen. Santiago pompously crowed over “court evidence” and insisted on the foreign bank officials to feed the senate investigation with all the details of the allegation. WB officials in turn told our government investigators they couldn’t do the job for us. Careful not to trample on our national “pride,” they said it wasn’t the foreign bank’s duty. Yes, why then couldn’t we have our investigation without the help of an outsider like the foreign bank?

Jose Miguel Arroyo, the husband of Pres. Gloria Arroyo, was at the center of the WB scandal. Santiago, an Arroyo ally, behaved as though it was WB’s interest over our own national interest that criminal wrong-doing be proven. The foot-dragging that followed demonstrated the lack of resolve to get into the bottom of the case. The inquiry led by Sen. Miriam D. Santiago was haphazard, diversionary and inutile.

If only to heighten our shame and incompetence, the US State Department, on a separate issue of human rights, called on our government to exert more in stopping graft and corruption. In its “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in 2008,” released last February 25, 2009, the department disclosed corruption in government agencies and the judiciary was among the reasons why basic human rights continued to be violated in the Philippines.

‘The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption; however, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials often engaged in corrupt practices with impunity,‘ the report says.”—Inquirer (02/28,/09, Dizon, N; Burgunio, TJ)

What they are saying about us is consistently embarrassing, but many of us choose to keep the usual silence. Malacanang Press secretary Cerge Remonde tries to be “smart” by dismissing the accusations as merely perceptions and therefore not rooted on reality.

“Corruption is really more…perception than reality. This perception is making us more aware and more conscious of the problem. More people become vigilant in watching graft and corruption,” Remonde told a news conference at the Palace on Friday.”—PDI, (02/27/9, Guinto, J.)

Others like Remonde in government are defensive by pointing that even USA and other countries have shares of the same problem. Apologists for the country say the Philippines isn’t the only one. They try to downplay the stark contrast in how other countries respond to stop graft and corruption.(Photo Credit: Animationcomics) =0=

RELATED BLOG: “Corruption scandals hurting Filipinos under Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo” Posted by mesiamd at 1/29/2009

==========================================================

90% of RP crimes are solved in less than 1 year: a lie that can make you cry?

December 19, 2008

When I read that Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Jesus Versoza on Thursday announced that about 90% of crimes in the country had been solved in less than year, I thought it was a typo error. But I made sure I was not reading it wrong.

In a press conference after a closed door command conference with key PNP officials, Verzosa said that of the 62,148 crime incidents reported in 11 months, 89.43 percent have been solved.”—-Inquirer, (12/17/08, Kwok, A)

I was convinced that this is inconsistent to the crime profile of the country that I know. What does “solving a crime” mean to the PNP director? What are the “crime incidents” is he referring to? In my book solving a crime means investigating a case, recognizing the criminal, ascertaining his complicity, bringing him to court, having him serve jail time if guilty, and rehabilitating him to be a responsible citizen before he is released from jail. The process definitely takes longer than a year.

The PNP director is probably lying. I couldn’t comprehend how a top government official has that gall to misinform the public at the expense of himself, the military, and the country. The motto of the police is service, honor and justice. Is he the corruption that has run wild in the military service?

HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES IN THE PHILIPPINES

One can discern the hard reality from personal experience or by doing a little reading. Many crimes go unreported. I know there are many journalists being killed without resolution of their cases. They are part of a large group of crime victims that range from a gamut of circumstances—from simple robbery to mass murder. The US State Department report on the human rights record of the Philippines in 2006, had the following was reported:

“During the year there were a number of arbitrary, unlawful, and extrajudicial killings apparently by elements of the security services and of political killings, including killings of journalists, by a variety of actors. Many of these killings went unsolved and unpunished, contributing to a climate of impunity, despite intensified government efforts during the year to investigate and prosecute these cases.

Members of the security services committed acts of physical and psychological abuse on suspects and detainees, and there were instances of torture. Arbitrary or warrantless arrests and detentions were common. Trials were delayed and procedures were prolonged. Prisoners awaiting trial and those already convicted were often held under primitive conditions.

Corruption was a problem in all the institutions making up the criminal justice system, including police, prosecutorial, and judicial organs. During a brief “state of emergency” in February, there was some attempted interference in freedom of the press and in the right of assembly.

In addition to the killings mentioned above, leftwing and human rights activists were often subject to harassment by local security forces. Problems such as violence against women and abuse of children, child prostitution, trafficking in persons, child labor, and ineffective enforcement of worker rights were common.” http://www.state.gov/ (US State Department) Philippines: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2006 Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (03/06/07)

77% OF PRISONERS ARE VICTIMS OF JUDICIAL ERROR

The report about prisoners in the Philippines is telling. Raymond Narag, a law student served 7 years in detention for murder which he never committed. He later worked as consultant on prison reform in the Philippine Supreme Court (SC.) According to him, 3 out of 4 prisoners (77%) in the Philippines are victims of judicial error. The average pre-sentencing detention is 3.2 years. Jailbirds are forced to plead guilty to escape hardships in detention in favor of being in the National Penitentiary where the conditions are better.

“Inmates are dying in our city jails at an alarming rate. They are suffering from boils, tuberculosis, chicken pox and other simple but highly communicable diseases. In the Quezon City Jail alone, there are two to five deaths per month. The sad fact is that they are dying before being sentenced.” —Raymond Narag

Quezon City Jail was built for only 815 detainees. Now, it houses about 3,400 inmates. This means that each prisoner has 0.28 sq2 m of living space which is way below the 3 sq2 m per person the United Nations considers the minimum standard for the treatment of prisoners.” —PIME; http://www.asia.news.it (10/22/04, Evangelista, S)

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

I have no reason to believe that the data above have drastically changed for the better this year. I haven’t heard of any evidence to the contrary. Instead, I recall my dead brother Henry who died from vehicular injuries without retribution on those who sold fake drugs that caused his demise. He was left in Naga City jail for hours without medical attention on a wrong assumption that his stupor was due to drunkenness, not from the brain damage from his injury. At least one doctor in Bicol Medical Center was complicit in peddling the counterfeit medicine.

I remember my friend’s mom, a widow who was stabbed by a robber while walking home after a day’s work in a Quezon City bakery. The sole witness of her slay was himself a victim of unsolved political disappearance, a case unrelated to the murder. My first cousin Orly was killed in a traffic accident in Manila by a hit-and-run driver. No one went to jail for these crimes. They were among at least 10 people I knew who died; their cases remained cold for more than a decade. I don’t know of a single heinous crime in the Philippines that had been solved. So can you see why I don’t believe General Versoza? How about you?(Photo Credits: http://www.bardu.net; ronaldhackson; http://www.bardu.net; planetradio; planetradio; ace_kupal)

RELATED BLOGS: “Journalist killings continue” Posted by mesiamd at 12/09/08; ” Another gruesome journalist’s slay” Posted by mesiamd at 11/17/2008; “When they start telling us we’re unworthy of help” Posted by mesiamd at 12/16/2008; ” On Philippine Corruption And Our Being Inure To It” Posted by myty555 at 12/16/2008; “Rising Road Accidents” Posted by mesiamd at 10/27/2008

======================================================

90% of RP crimes are solved in less than 1 year: a lie that can make you cry?

December 19, 2008

When I read that Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Jesus Versoza on Thursday announced that about 90% of crimes in the country had been solved in less than year, I thought it was a typo error. But I made sure I was not reading it wrong.

In a press conference after a closed door command conference with key PNP officials, Verzosa said that of the 62,148 crime incidents reported in 11 months, 89.43 percent have been solved.”—-Inquirer, (12/17/08, Kwok, A)

I was convinced that this is inconsistent to the crime profile of the country that I know. What does “solving a crime” mean to the PNP director? What are the “crime incidents” is he referring to? In my book solving a crime means investigating a case, recognizing the criminal, ascertaining his complicity, bringing him to court, having him serve jail time if guilty, and rehabilitating him to be a responsible citizen before he is released from jail. The process definitely takes longer than a year.

The PNP director is probably lying. I couldn’t comprehend how a top government official has that gall to misinform the public at the expense of himself, the military, and the country. The motto of the police is service, honor and justice. Is he the corruption that has run wild in the military service?

HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES IN THE PHILIPPINES

One can discern the hard reality from personal experience or by doing a little reading. Many crimes go unreported. I know there are many journalists being killed without resolution of their cases. They are part of a large group of crime victims that range from a gamut of circumstances—from simple robbery to mass murder. The US State Department report on the human rights record of the Philippines in 2006, had the following was reported:

“During the year there were a number of arbitrary, unlawful, and extrajudicial killings apparently by elements of the security services and of political killings, including killings of journalists, by a variety of actors. Many of these killings went unsolved and unpunished, contributing to a climate of impunity, despite intensified government efforts during the year to investigate and prosecute these cases.

Members of the security services committed acts of physical and psychological abuse on suspects and detainees, and there were instances of torture. Arbitrary or warrantless arrests and detentions were common. Trials were delayed and procedures were prolonged. Prisoners awaiting trial and those already convicted were often held under primitive conditions.

Corruption was a problem in all the institutions making up the criminal justice system, including police, prosecutorial, and judicial organs. During a brief “state of emergency” in February, there was some attempted interference in freedom of the press and in the right of assembly.

In addition to the killings mentioned above, leftwing and human rights activists were often subject to harassment by local security forces. Problems such as violence against women and abuse of children, child prostitution, trafficking in persons, child labor, and ineffective enforcement of worker rights were common.” http://www.state.gov/ (US State Department) Philippines: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2006 Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (03/06/07)

77% OF PRISONERS ARE VICTIMS OF JUDICIAL ERROR

The report about prisoners in the Philippines is telling. Raymond Narag, a law student served 7 years in detention for murder which he never committed. He later worked as consultant on prison reform in the Philippine Supreme Court (SC.) According to him, 3 out of 4 prisoners (77%) in the Philippines are victims of judicial error. The average pre-sentencing detention is 3.2 years. Jailbirds are forced to plead guilty to escape hardships in detention in favor of being in the National Penitentiary where the conditions are better.

“Inmates are dying in our city jails at an alarming rate. They are suffering from boils, tuberculosis, chicken pox and other simple but highly communicable diseases. In the Quezon City Jail alone, there are two to five deaths per month. The sad fact is that they are dying before being sentenced.” —Raymond Narag

Quezon City Jail was built for only 815 detainees. Now, it houses about 3,400 inmates. This means that each prisoner has 0.28 sq2 m of living space which is way below the 3 sq2 m per person the United Nations considers the minimum standard for the treatment of prisoners.” —PIME; http://www.asia.news.it (10/22/04, Evangelista, S)

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

I have no reason to believe that the data above have drastically changed for the better this year. I haven’t heard of any evidence to the contrary. Instead, I recall my dead brother Henry who died from vehicular injuries without retribution on those who sold fake drugs that caused his demise. He was left in Naga City jail for hours without medical attention on a wrong assumption that his stupor was due to drunkenness, not from the brain damage from his injury. At least one doctor in Bicol Medical Center was complicit in peddling the counterfeit medicine.

I remember my friend’s mom, a widow who was stabbed by a robber while walking home after a day’s work in a Quezon City bakery. The sole witness of her slay was himself a victim of unsolved political disappearance, a case unrelated to the murder. My first cousin Orly was killed in a traffic accident in Manila by a hit-and-run driver. No one went to jail for these crimes. They were among at least 10 people I knew who died; their cases remained cold for more than a decade. I don’t know of a single heinous crime in the Philippines that had been solved. So can you see why I don’t believe General Versoza? How about you?(Photo Credits: http://www.bardu.net; ronaldhackson; http://www.bardu.net; planetradio; planetradio; ace_kupal)

RELATED BLOGS: “Journalist killings continue” Posted by mesiamd at 12/09/08; ” Another gruesome journalist’s slay” Posted by mesiamd at 11/17/2008; “When they start telling us we’re unworthy of help” Posted by mesiamd at 12/16/2008; ” On Philippine Corruption And Our Being Inure To It” Posted by myty555 at 12/16/2008; “Rising Road Accidents” Posted by mesiamd at 10/27/2008

======================================================

Journalist killings continue

December 9, 2008

The death toll of journalists being killed in the Philippines continues to rise. On the early hours of December 9, 2008, Muriel Leanilo, a tabloid columnist of “Bagong Balita” was slain by an unidentified gunman who walked away from the site of the crime in Aurora, Boulevard, Quezon City. The motive of the killing wasn’t known.

Following the shooting death of another journalist less than a month ago, Leanilo was rushed at Quirino Memorial Medical Center but was pronounced dead on arrival. His companion, Christina Valldolid, was seriously hurt. A taxi driver who saw the murder said the assailant walked away after the incident.

Cold-blooded slaughter has been a common occurrence in the Philippines. The administration of Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo appears helpless in stopping the crimes which earn bad reputation for the country. Apologists of the government can’t say that the unsatisfactory national human rights and freedom records are “perceptions” only. There is an obvious lack of justice. Unhalted murders suggest political instability which may worsen in time. (Photo Credit: Campino Castillejo)=0=

RELATED BLOGS: “Another gruesome journalist’s slay” Posted by mesiamd at 11/17/2008; “RP’s 2008 Press Freedom Rank: 142nd out of 173 nations,” Posted by mesiamd at 10/26/2008; “Deteriorating Human Rights Record: another journalist shot dead in Camarines Sur,” posted by mesiamd at 08/16/08.)

==========================================================

Radio Broadcaster Leonilo Mila of Samar, shot dead

December 3, 2008

In another depressing news, Leonilo Mila, a radio personality in Northern Samar reportedly died of gunshot wounds inflicted by unidentified men on Tuesday, December 2, 2008 outside his office in San Roque, Napares, Barangay Zone 3.

Mila reportedly died on site of the shooting with wounds from a 45-caliber pistol on his torso, legs, and head.

The announcer of Radio Natin had been known for his expressed opposition against taxation leveled by the National People’s Army (NPA) on villagers in the area, an angle of the senseless killing the local police is investigating. No suspects to this day is in custody. —Inqurer (12/03/08, Kwok, Abigail)

The brazenness and brutality of this killing again reminds the government and the people of the dangerous path the country is taking. Without a sincere effort by the government and the citizenry to curb these murders and ferret out justice, living in the Philippines will be at one’s own peril. (Photo Credit: Backroad+drifter)=0=

RELATED BLOGS:RELATED BLOGS: Another gruesome journalist’s slay Posted by mesiamd at 11/17/2008; “RP’s 2008 Press Freedom Rank: 142nd out of 173 nations,” Posted by mesiamd at 10/26/2008; “Deteriorating Human Rights Record: another journalist shot dead in Camarines Sur,” posted by mesiamd at 08/16/08.)

UPDATE:The horrific pattern of antagonism and violence against journalists in the Philippines is a disgrace and must end,” said the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ Asia-Pacific) said in a reaction to the death of Aristeo Padrigao, a staunched critic of illegal logging in Mindanao.

Calling for justice, IFJ, bewails the helplessness of RP to stop the killings which have claimed the lives of 61 journalists since 2001 according to the Nuational Union of Jounrnalists in the Philippines NUJP. Inquirer (11/18/08, Kwok, A)

Another gruesome journalist’s slay

November 17, 2008

Barely a month after Reporters Without Border lowered RP’s freedom index from 128th to 142nd this year, another journalist, has been reportedly slained in Gingoong City, Misamis Oriental. Radio Natin commentator Aristeo Padrigao, a hard-hitting critic of Mayor Ruthy Guingona, died of gunshot wound inflicted by a motorcycle-riding assailant according the provincial police chief Catalino Rodriguez.

“The Manila-based Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) said the Philippines has become the ‘most dangerous place for journalists next to Iraq and the most murderous place in the world for journalists.’ “—GMANewsTV (11/17/08, Jacinto, A)

Mostly unresolved, more than 50 Filipino journalists have been killed since 2001 and greater than 800 civilians have died or went missing under suspicious circumstances. The public is angered and frustrated. The 7th journalist to die in 2008, Padrigao casts strong doubts on Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo’s capacity to stave off the deteriorating human rights record of the Philippines. =0=

RELATED BLOGS: “RP’s 2008 Press Freedom Rank: 142nd out of 173 nations,” Posted by mesiamd at 10/26/2008; “Deteriorating Human Rights Record: another journalist shot dead in Camarines Sur,” posted by mesiamd at 08/16/08.)

UPDATE:“The horrific pattern of antagonism and violence against journalists in the Philippines is a disgrace and must end,” said the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ Asia-Pacific) said in a reaction to the death of Aristeo Padrigao, a staunched critic of illegal logging in Mindanao. Calling for justice, IfJ, bewails the helplessness of RP to stop the killings which have claimed the lives of 61 journalists since 2001 according to the Nuational Union of Jounrnalists in the Philippines NUJP).Inquirer (11/18/08, Kwok, A)

RP’s 2008 Press Freedom Rank: 142nd out of 173 nations

October 25, 2008

The Reporters Without Borders’ Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index for 2008 had the Philippines ranked 142nd out of 173 countries in the order of decreasing press freedom. This is a sharp drop from number 128 in the previous year, indicating the continued deterioration of press freedom in the country.

High in the index list are Iceland, Luxembourg, and Norway which share 1st place. Countries like Turkmenistan (171st), North Korea (172nd), and Eritrea (173rd) are in the bottom heap. Corruption, according to the international watchdog, is mainly to blame for the decline of press freedom which “eats away democracies…”

Sec. Cerge Remonde, chief of the presidential management staff, thinks this is just a matter perception not reality— even if from year 2001 more than 50 journalists have been murdered in the Philippines. Another 800 civilians disappeared (desaparecidos) or died from premeditated killings. The perpetrators of these crimes including those done by the military remained unpunished. (See my blog entitled “Deteriorating Human Rights Record: another journalist shot dead in Camarines Sur, 08/16/08.)

Remonde says press freedom is very lively, aggressive and free in the country, but he didn’t look into the dangers which cause journalists to die on the job. Such distorted pronouncements on the plight of journalists and media men (Inquirer, 10/25/08, Burgonio, TJ) aggravates the lack of trust and cynicism of Filipinos towards government authority. Some sectors dismiss Remonde’s statement as a lie, part of the reasons why human rights don’t improve in the country. (pkj_jason) Photo Credit:=0=

Corrosive Love, Disfiguring Revenge

August 18, 2008

In some cultures, like in Pakistan, some boys whose proposals for marriage are rejected take revenge by throwing acid to their object of love. In some cases, the reason for the acid throwing is simple as a parent who doesn’t want a girl-child. It’s mind-bending to realize that this tragic incidents still occur in the 21st century.

The resultant irreversible chemical burn and its hypopigmented scars are as disfiguring as one sees the face of Najaf Sultana, 16, who went through 15 plastic surgeries since she was 5 years old to lessen cicatrization. It is with the help of a humanitarian group called Depilex Smileagain Foundation in Lahore. The group lists 240 girls like Najaf who are provided rehabilitative emotional and physical assistance to overcome such inhumane treatment of women. (PCredit:AP/Morenatti,E)=0=

Deteriorating Human Rights Record: another journalist shot dead in Camarines Sur

August 16, 2008

As the Philippines struggles to shed off the label of being the most dangerous place for journalists next to Iraq, Ronaldo Julia another media person in Bicol died of gunshot wounds in Magarao, Camarines Sur. The hideous killing occurred Friday, Aug 15, 2008, barely two weeks after radio anchorman Dennis Cuesta of Radio Mindanao Network and Martin Roxas, a commentator in Panay Island were shot dead.

A writer of the “Weekly Informer” and broadcaster of Naga and Legazpi, Ronaldo Julia was gunned down on his way home at 11 pm. He died before doctors in a nearby city hospital could treat him.

Since 2001, more than 50 journalists were murdered; another 800 civilians disappeared (desaparecidos) or died from premeditated killings. In most cases, the killers which include those from the military, remained unpunished. Despite Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo’s promises, the murders escalate with increasing viciousness. Exasperated citizens including journalists in local and international media condemn these. They demand justice through effective prosecution under the law. Pres. Arroyo, the Justice Department and the police must not wear a blind eye on these killings that clearly point to a deteriorating human rights record of the country. =0=