Bishop calls for end to ‘culture of impunity’

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MANILA, Dec. 11, 2012—Impunity has no place in rights-based governance and should be challenged, fought and stopped, a Catholic Bishop said.

In his statement for the International Human Rights Day and 64th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR), Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo, National Director of CBCP-NASSA said that the Philippines was far from the goal of rights-based governance because of high incidence of extrajudicial killings and lack of justice to victims of violence and killings.

“As our country is a state party to more than 20 international human rights instruments, it is the obligation of the Philippine government to apply these to the national and local legislations and ensure their implementation,” Pabillo said.

He added that the government should exercise its leadership and political will to ensure the effective implementation of the existing laws, such as the asset reform laws for agrarian reform (CARP) and for Indigenous Peoples (IPRA), to give back the rights due to farmers, IPs and other basic sectors; the prompt enactment of legal guarantees on good governance such as the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB), which various groups have been calling for a long time; and that perpetrators of human rights violations are put to justice with due compensation to the victims.

Pabillo furthered that the government should acknowledge the rights of every individual and the human rights-based governance could determine by means of applying the national and international human rights standards and norms to its decision-making, policy formulation, legislation, development, and fiscal planning.

Laws were flouted with impunity            

Pabillo cited cases of human rights violations perpetrated against human rights advocates, such as the recent massacre of indigenous B’laan family in Tampakan; the lack of justice to victims of violence and killings, the slow and ineffective investigation on the killing of Fr. Pops Tentorio; and other environmental and human rights advocates and journalists who are vocal against mining and other exploitative activities.

On December 9, yet another violent incident happened among family members of a tribal leader active in the advocacy against mining.

According to a report furnished to Social Action News, the eldest daughter of Manang Carmen Ananayo, an Ifugao leader of DESAMA (Didipio Earth Savers Multi-purpose Association) named Sheryll, was shot dead at around 2 p.m. Randy, a cousin-in-law, who was with her, was also shot dead.

Randy was driving a van, with Sheryll and her two children, according to reports. Manang Carmen narrated that Sheryll, along with her companions, were on their way home to Brgy. Didipio, in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya, when two men riding in a motorbike blocked their way, and shot them.

Sheryll was carrying her 3 month-old baby when she was shot. The baby was unharmed, and so was the 4 year old kid. Help came when a kid reportedly flagged down a vehicle coming down from Didipio, and showed the van. By then, Sheryll and Randy were already dead.

Manang Carmen added that some policemen quickly responded to the crime scene. She was told the incident could have been a hold-up confrontation. But Manang Carmen and her family did not think so, because none was taken from Sheryll or Randy.

The incident allegedly had something to do with the Indigenous Peoples and urban poor claiming rights to land, relocation and opportunity for livelihood.

Apart from the lack of efficiency and unclear accountability of various government agencies responsible for these issues, the culture of non-action and impunity on the violators such as influential landowners and corporations, state actors and agencies, only perpetuates the situation further from good governance, according to Pabillo.

“As good governance is a shared responsibility, we also appeal to each citizen to be concerned for each other in this journey towards true human rights-based governance, by promoting other’s rights and challenging violations.  We are all made in the image of God and each person, with her/his unique worth is loved by God.  Let us respect the inherent right and dignity of each other in the spirit of God’s love!” Pabillo said. [SocialActionNews]


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