|Kin of victim of extrajudicial killing find justice in the UN|
|Written by Ronalyn V. Olea|
|Friday, 08 October 2010 18:30|
Eight years since human rights defender and campus journalist Benjaline “Beng”Hernandez was killed, justice remains elusive. The family saw a ray of hope when the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) recently held the Philippine government responsible for her death.
No use esta medicina sin antes hablar con su mé dico si le está dando de amamantar al bebé discounted cialis. Finally Daily Use: Mild or moderate Child Pugh Class A or B: caution is suggestedMethadone dose has to be individualized and will devolve on the prior narcotic dose and harshness of opioid withdrawal buy cialis online.
Beng was killed, along with three others in Arakan Valley, North Cotabato on April 5, 2002. Beng, then deputy secretary general of Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Region and vice president for Mindanao of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), was conducting a research on the impact of the peace process on the local community. She and three residents were about to take their lunch when six members of the Citizens Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu), led by Sgt. Antonio Torilla of the 7th Battalion (Airborne) of the 12 Special Forces of the Philippine Army strafed the hut they were in. The autopsy disclosed that two bullets had been fired at Beng from close range and that she had been lying on her back when she was shot.
The family filed a multiple murder case against the perpetrators. Only Torilla was named respondent while the charges against the others were dismissed. The local court in Kidapawan handling the case granted bail to Torilla and the junior military officer remains in active service in the Philippine Army.
In March 2006, Beng’s mother Evangeline decided to file a case against the Philippine government, as a state party, at the UNHRC under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Philippine government signed the ICCPR in January 1986 and the Optional Protocol on ICCPR in November 1989. The Philippines is also a member of the UN Human Rights Council.
“After a serious investigation of the UNHRC for almost four years, the State, particularly the Arroyo administration, has been proven accountable for the death of Beng and her colleagues and of violating the ICCPR,” said Evangeline.
The UNHRC also noted: “Despite the fact that bail is not normally granted in murder cases, it was granted in this case. Subpoenas for the attendance of the military witnesses as hostile witnesses for the prosecution were disobeyed or ignored…[R]emedies have been unreasonably prolonged and will prove to be ineffective.”
The UNHRC also said while the Philippine government denied that the killing of Beng was attributable to its military organization, it did not present any convincing evidence that the main suspect was acting in his own interest. “Nor did the State party submit convincing information on any effective measures it undertook, in compliance with its obligation to protect the right to life under article 6, paragraph 1, to prevent and refrain from arbitrary deprivation of life,” the Committee said.
“This is another fatal blow against the former administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her cohorts who are being held responsible for the unprecedented record of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances under their watch,” Edre U. Olalia, secretary general of the NUPL who assisted Karapatan in the filing and pursuit of the case, said in a statement.
Olalia said the UNHRC decision would encourage human rights victims and their families all over to seek international recourse especially if domestic remedies are ‘frustratingly prolonged or even illusory.’
The UNHRC said the Philippine government is under obligation to take effective measures to ensure that the criminal proceedings are expeditiously completed, that all the perpetrators are prosecuted.
A few days after Evangeline received a copy of the UNHRC decision, she learned that the local court in Kidapawan acquitted the main suspect to the crime. Evangeline, now spokesperson of Hustisya!, an organization of the families of victims of extrajudicial killings, is frustrated. “Instead of complying with the views of the UNHRC, the Philippine government continues to deny us justice,” she said.
“The main suspect roams freely in various camps such as Fort Magsaysay and Fort Bonifacio,” Evangeline said.
The UNHRC also said the victim’s family must be granted full reparation, including adequate compensation and the State party must submit within 180 days, information about the measures taken to give effect to the UNHRC’s views.
Olalia said Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, former Gen. Jovito Palparan and their cohorts should be criminally, civilly and administratively accountable for the killing of thousands of activists and other civilians from 2001 to 2010.
Evangeline said the UNHRC ruling must also serve as a warning to the new Aquino administration. “Aquino must not repeat the atrocities of the past administration. However, it is alarming that in less than 100 days of his administration, there are already16 victims of extrajudicial killings,” she said.
Evangeline attributed the new spate of killings to the extension of the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL). bulatlat.com