THE failure of the Philippine government to protect its people from human rights violations has forced its citizens to seek ‚Äúremedy by publicity,‚ÄĚ according to an Asian human rights watchdog.
In a 25-page report on the Philippines, submitted in time for the International Human Rights Day on Saturday, the Asian Human Rights Commission said, ‚ÄúDue to absence of effective remedy in the criminal justice system, there has been an ongoing practice of victims, their families and those who supports them, to obtain some sort of remedy by way of publicity, not in the trial process.‚ÄĚ
This means filing complaints against soldiers and policemen accused of violations is not enough for complainants, they also have to call the attention of supporters from within and outside the country to pressure the government into action.
That‚Äôs why witnesses or complainants at risk prefer to tell their stories to journalists rather than to the police. ‚ÄúVictims who are illegally detained, tortured and falsely charged would rather employ public pressure for their release than take legal action,‚ÄĚ the Hong-Kong based human rights watchdog said in a statement.
‚ÄúThe widespread arbitrariness and disregard to elementary due process and legality that protects the rights is lacking if not completely absent. There must be a substantive discourse on the irreparable impact of how the flawed country’s system of justice operates to this day.‚ÄĚ
Monsignor Clemente Ignacio, rector of the Quiapo Church in Manila, said the government must strengthen structures to protect the rights of the victims and those filing charges.
‚ÄúWe are saddened that in our beloved homeland, we continue to hear and witness violations of the rights of our brothers and sisters,‚ÄĚ he said in an interview Saturday. ‚ÄúWe could do a lot, if only all our branches in government could work together to uphold the rights of the citizens.‚ÄĚ
Renato Reyes of the New Patriotic Alliance said not a single criminal case has been filed by the government against any of the notorious human rights violators, past and present.
“There is zero justice, zero accountability for human rights,‚ÄĚ he said.
He cited the findings of legal researcher Atty. Al Parreno that from 2001 to 2011, only one percent of the 364 cases of extrajudicial killings resulted in the conviction of perpetrators.