Justice remains elusive; a year after Estrellado killing

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Human rights and cause-oriented groups holds press conference on the 1st death anniversary of Rodel Estrallado. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Human rights and cause-oriented groups holds press conference on the 1st death anniversary of Rodel Estrallado. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

LEGAZPI CITY (27-Feb-12) – “Certainly the Aquino administration, President Aquino being a victim of human rights himself, does not tolerate and will not tolerate extrajudicial killings under his administration,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said on July 6, 2010 when he appealed for “forbearance” as the government strives to resolve the spate of political involving human rights advocate, members of people’s organizations and even media personnel, according to Atty. Bartolome Rayco, National Union of People’s Lawyer-Bicol.

Contrary to the Malacanang’s claim, extrajudicial killings continued under the Aquino administration that human rights group KARAPATAN had recorded 64; nine enforced disappearances, and 51 cases of torture from July 2010 to October 2011. To date, harassments, abductions, and killings still ensue, Rayco added.

Amid these glaring facts, Ambassador Harry Thomas seems to be blind when he commended the Aquino administration on December 10, 2011 for its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights.  “The United States welcomes the Philippine government’s commitment to pursue justice for all victims of extrajudicial killings and hold perpetrators accountable for such heinous acts that contradict the core values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Thomas said.

This statement was a mockery on the part of the family of Rodel Estrellado, a member of Bayan Muna who was abducted and killed on February 25, 2010 in a recital of carnage performed by the members of the 42nd IB/9th ID. Today marked the 1st death anniversary of Rodel Estrellado, but the military particularly the 9th ID and 42nd IB arrogantly maintains its cover-up story that Rodel was killed in an armed encounter between the AFP and New People’s Army in Buluang, Bato, Camarines Sur which according to a statement released by then 9th ID spokesperson Maj. Harold Cabunoc, now Army Spokesperson started at 6:30 a.m. and allegedly carried on until 10:30 a.m. of February 25, 2011.

The story of the witnesses and the police investigation unfolds the truth, that is – First, Rodel, on his way home from the market, was abducted at 8:30 a.m. on February 25, 2011 at Malilipot, Albay. Second, At 1:00 p.m. of that same day, his body was brought to the Bato Police Station by Major Ambe and Lt. Bonilla who reported that the body of the person whose name was Elmer Estrellado was killed in an armed encounter which ensued between the NPA and AFP from 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.  The two military officials claimed that Elmer Estrellado was a high ranking officer of the NPA.  It was found out two days after that Rodel Estrellado was in fact Elmer Estrellado. Third, there was no armed encounter at Buluang, Bato, Camarines Sur on that day.

The insincerity of the present administration in bringing to end the extrajudicial killing of activists and critics of the government is likewise intensified by its delayed and slack action in the investigation and prosecution of cases brought before the same.

A criminal complaint was filed before the Prosecution Office by the family of Rodel Estrellado through the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) on May 19, 2011.  After several motions for extension and resetting, and after more than six months of waiting, the clarificatory hearing was finally set on December 12, 2011, two days after the 2011 commemoration of the International Human Rights Day, which also concluded the preliminary investigation.   To the disappointment of the counsels and the family of Rodel, no resolution was yet issued by the panel of prosecutors to date when, under the rules, it should have been resolved within sixty days after the case was assigned to the panel of prosecutors

While the Aquino government boasts of its ‘respect for human rights and intolerance of extrajudicial killings’, its killer-minions on the other side of the fence continuously rampages communities and takes lives extra judicially under its deceptive Internal Peace and Security Program ornamentally labeled as ‘Oplan Bayanihan’.

Thus, we call for the immediate prosecution of Major Danilo Ambe and eight others in the Estrellado case.  We dare the present administration to likewise prosecute high ranking officials who ordered and have been involved in the killing of Estrellado!

Our call remains then and now, from the past to the present administration — Justice for all victims of extrajudicial killings! End impunity. NUPL ended.

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