Pauline Gidget Estella
National President, CEGP
On the sixth anniversary of Karen and She’s disappearance
Campus journalists, youth orgs slam Aquino’s incompetence in addressing human rights situation
On the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, campus journalists condemned the Aquino administration for failing to deliver justice to the victims of various human rights violations such as UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, who were abducted by alleged military elements six years ago.
“The culture of impunity continues under the Aquino regime, which proudly claims that it prioritizes human rights and is different from its predecessor. To date, there are 76 cases of extra-judicial killings and 96 of torture, according to KARAPATAN,” said Pauline Gidget Estella, national president of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), the oldest and widest alliance of student publications in the country.
CEGP, along with other organizations, staged a multi-sectoral protest action in front of Camp Aguinaldo at 10 AM today. The The Guild is one of the main convenors of Tanggulan Youth Network for Human Rights and Civil Liberties, an alliance of youth organizations and church groups.
In a matter of a few months, Tanggulan has documented 26 cases of human rights violations among the youth and in a single week has received reports numbering to six cases.
“We staged this action in front of the headquarters of the supposed protector of the people. In reality, however, this protector is the perpetrator of numerous human rights violations in which the victims were mostly members of progressive groups,” said Estella. “This day should serve as constant reminder of the Aquino’s administration’s incompetence in addressing the culture of impunity and lawlessness prevalent in this country,” she added.
“We condemn the Aquino administration for claiming that its counterinsurgency plan Oplan Bayanihan is different from Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya. The militarization of communities in Quezon – the surveillance, the intimidation, abduction and extrajudicial killings – is all too familiar,” said Estella.
To date, 48 cases of human rights violations (125 individual victims) have been recorded in the two districts of Quezon. These violations include enforced disappearance, torture, illegal search and seizure, among others. The perpetrators were reportedly military elements.
“Aquino is claiming that Oplan Bayanihan is ‘humanitarian’ in nature and is quite different from Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya. But we have received reports that violations still continue even in communities under Bayanihan, and activities like medical missions were used as a means to conduct surveillance,” said Estella.
“Oplan Bayanihan is similar to the previous counter-insurgency programs because it does not distinguish between legal, progressive organizations and the armed rebels. These progressives, such as CEGP alumni Ericson Acosta, James Balao and Maricon Montajes, were just three among the victims of human rights violations,” Estella explained.
“The horror that these ‘uniformed men’ bring heightens with increased US military presence in the Southeast. As we all know, the US is set to deploy 60 percent of its warships in the region,” said Estella. “History has shown that in areas where US military operations took place, various human rights violations were reported, including numerous rape cases,” she ended. ####
For inquiries, please contact Jonalyn Paz, media officer, at 09164744412
Media Liaison Officer
College Editors Guild of the Philippines National Office