MANILA (23-nOV-2012) – “The perpetuation of state violence and impunity in the country is as subtle as a backhoe.”
This is Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino’s statement on the third year memorial of the Maguindanao massacre, referring to the chilling image of the backhoe used to cover up what has been dubbed as the single deadliest event for journalists in history, wherein 58 people – including 32 journalists – were brutally killed.
“Three years have come and gone, and Aquino’s promise of justice has yet to materialize. Worse, the Aquino regime has flagrantly perpetuated impunity in the country, with the statistics on state violence continually rising each month,” Palatino said.
“While criminal charges against the Ampatuans gather dust in our courts, more and more citizens fall victim to state-perpetrated human rights violations,” Palatino said.
According to human rights alliance Karapatan, there are at least 114 documented cases of extrajudicial killing under the Aquino regime, including the Capion massacre wherein a Blaan family was mercilessly killed by elements of the military. The said figure also includes the killing of at least 66 peasants and 15 indigenous people, Karapatan noted.
“The shadow of the backhoe, which will forever be etched in our memories as a symbol of impunity, continues to loom in the Philippines. With the government perpetuating this sordid state of affairs, no one in the country is safe from the perils of injustice,” Palatino said.
Palatino echoed the call of various youth groups, including the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, for the country’s justice system to expedite the delivery of justice for the victims of the Maguindanao massacre.
“Non-prosecution and non-punishment of criminals like Andal Ampatuan and his cohorts is a blatant proof of Aquino’s disinterest in delivering justice,” Palatino said.
“While the likes of the Ampatuans, Gen. Jovito Palparan, and Gloria Arroyo continue their gallivanting without ample punishment, the voices of the victims’ families have grown hoarse from calling for justice due to the glacial pace at which our courts are prosecuting,” he added.
Palatino also noted that the Philippines has yet to officially recognize November 23 as a national day of commemoration and condemnation of impunity. “People across the globe commemorate this day as the International Day to End Impunity, but in our own country, no law has been passed to recognize this,” Palatino said.
A year ago, Palatino has filed House Bill No. 5511 which seeks to mark November 23 of every year as the National Day Against Impunity. The said bill is still pending in the House Committee on Human Rights.
The said bill is co-authored by Reps. Teddy Casiño and Neri Colmenares (Bayan Muna ), Emmi de Jesus and Luz Ilagan (Gabriela), Rafael Mariano (Anakpawis) and Antonio Tinio (ACT Teachers).
“The bloody Maguindanao massacre reminds us of the deeply entrenched climate of impunity in the country. Thousands have been victims of various human rights violations and justice still has not been served up to this day. To mark November 23 of every year as the National Day Against Impunity is both a continuing reminder and challenge for the government and the Filipinos to end impunity,” Palatino ended.