Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The issue of human rights is a universal concern; US congressional hearing on extrajudicial killings not an encroachment on Philippine sovereignty

Tuesday March 13, 2007

The issue of human rights is a universal concern; US congressional hearing on extrajudicial killings not an encroachment on Philippine sovereignty

Anakpawis Representative and political detainee Crispin Beltran today said that because of it's refusal to acknowledge the universal condemnation it is receiving from the international community regarding the endless series of extra-judicial killings, the Macapagal-Arroyo government is only affirming its burgeoning reputation as a rising dictatorship. He said that the ongoing US congressional investigations into the killings will further bring the Philippines and the Arroyo government into a negative light.

"Civil libertarians and human rights advocates in the Philippines should not see the US congressional investigations into the killings as an encroachment on Philippine independence and sovereignty. The issue of human rights violations is a universal concern, and thus it is not only the right of international lawmakers to investigate the bloody campaign the Philippine government has initiated against its constituents, but their duty as well," he said.

"Also, the United States has the highest concentration of Filipino immigrants and migrant workers. These Filipinos in the US trace their roots back to the Philippines, and majority of them still have families back here. Their lobbying in the US Senate and plea for help in the Philippines is an act of patriotism and love of country," he said.

'The Arroyo government might feign magnanimity or occasional nonchalance over the snowballing international outrage over the killings; but this will not make any difference. The continuous deterioration in the human rights situation in the Philippines and worsening political repression will always elicit strong condemnation. The harassment against the progressive party-lists and their lawmakers has not escaped international attention; neither has the Armed Forces of the Philippines's (AFP) eagerness to implement the Human Security Act (HSA) as yet another weapon to crush political dissent," he said.

The activist lawmaker lauded the recent statement released by the United Nation's Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Martin Scheinin, wherein he urged the Philippine government to repeal the HSA:

"。トI encourage the legislative branch of Government in the Philippines to reconsider this new counter-terrorism law which was approved by Congress in a Special Session of Parliament on 19 February 2007. It is my hope that there will be further debate which may result in the introduction of specific amendments or repeal of the entire Act by the new Congress elected this spring, since implementation of this law could have a negative impact on human rights in the country and undermines the rule of law."

"The Philippines is a country facing many challenging issues and I wish to reaffirm that I am fully conscious of the need to take effective measures to prevent and counter terrorism, and of the difficulties of States in doing so without compromising the freedoms of a civil society. However, I am concerned that many provisions of the Human Security Act are not in accordance with international human rights standards"

Beltran said that one of the first bills that the bloc of progressive party-lists led by Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela Women's Party (GWP) will file as soon as the 14th congress opens is a bill repealing the HSA.

"There is no doubt that if the party-list elections were held today, our party-lists will win by a large margin despite the attempts of the Arroyo government to have us disqualified and criminalized. Despite this, however, we continue to draft our legislative agenda this early. It is part of our collective mandate to fight against all legislative measures pushed by the government that endanger and attack the civil, human and political rights of our constituents," said Beltran.


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