Culture of impunity alive and well in PH: human rights group

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A human rights group on Saturday disputed Malacanang’s claims that impunity is long gone in the country, saying killings are unabated under the Aquino administration.

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Militant human rights group Karapatan lashed at Palace spokesperson Sonny Coloma’s statement the there is “no more culture of impunity” in the Philippines, a pronouncement he made on the fourth anniversary of the Maguindanao Massacre.

“The BS Aquino regime knows nothing about justice, and everything about injustice,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general.

“There is impunity and injustice because perpetrators are not punished, because human rights violations continue to be committed. There is injustice because the BS Aquino government is inept and negligent of the needs of its people. And BS Aquino should answer for this.”

In the morning of November 23, 2009, 58 people—32 of which are media workers—were abducted, brutally murdered, and buried in a mass grave in Barangay Salman, Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

But four years on, justice still remains elusive for the victims’ families with the case at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court being stalled by countless bail petitions, affidavits and counter-affidavits.

Monet Salaysay, widow of Mindanao Gazette’s Napoleon Salaysay, felt betrayed at how the government is handling the case despite the promises President Benigno Aquino 3rd made during his 2010 electoral campaign that he would help expedite the case.

“We are poor but we are not stupid. The case is at a turtle’s pace. It has been four years and justice has not been achieved. What evidence more do they need?” Salaysay said in her speech during the commemoration of the massacre on Friday.

Only 104 out of 195 accused were indicted and only eight of them were from the Ampatuan clan. There are at least 88 suspects still at large while three vital witnesses have been killed.

The victims’ kin have turned to the United Nations for help, appealing to the international body to compel the Philippine government to provide compensation.

JHOANNA BALLARAN

 

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