As UN Committee dismisses GRP report, Ermita tries to pin human rights violations on the NPA

By NDFP Negotiating Panel

The Spokesman of the Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and chairman of the NDFP Monitoring Committee Fidel V. Agcaoili today slammed what he termed as 'vicious, malicious and pitch black lies' of General Eduardo Ermita.

Yesterday, Ermita who is the chairman of the GRP's Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC) alleged that the New People's Army (NPA) is behind the growing number of human rights violations, with alleged 65 cases in the first five months of 2009. "He released his statement of lies apparently in time for the visit of US Defense Secretary Robert Gates to please his master," Agcaoili surmised.

"Ermita is again resorting to his psywar gimmick in yet another attempt to cover up the GRP's human rights record. Every time the GRP's armed forces are tagged in yet another case of brutality — be it an abduction, torture or extrajudicial killing, GRP officials, the likes of Ermita, lug out their made-up stories and twisted facts, and attribute them to the NPA," he said. "They did this before after the release of the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions and the report of Amnesty International."

In the last session of the United Nations Committee Against Torture in Geneva, Switzerland on April 25, the UN body all but dismissed the GRP's report regarding its supposed compliance with the international agreement against torture. According to the UN, aside from the report being 16 years late, the Arroyo regime failed to comply with the 1984 Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment with the numerous complaints of torture against its security forces. The committee also expressed great concern over the reigning "culture of impunity" where the police, military and other high-ranking government officials who planned, ordered or committed torture and other human rights violations go unpunished.

Only recently, the country was shocked by the abduction of Filipino-American Melissa Roxas and her companions Jon Edward Handoc and Juanito Carabeo. Roxas et al were abducted by armed men strongly suspected of being members of the AFP's Special Operations Group on 19 May 2009. While Roxas and Carabeo have been surfaced, Handoc remains missing until today.

Ermita's PHRC even attempted to deny the abduction but it has been belied not only by reports of the GRP police but also by the affidavit of one of the victims, Ms. Roxas, and the open letter of Ms. Aileen Bacalso, secretary-general of Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances, whose organization was unnecessarily dragged into the issue.

"The international human rights community is already insulted and offended by the shamelessly mendacious assertions of the GRP that it abides by human rights and has nothing to do with the continuing extrajudicial killings and abductions of civilians and political activists," Agcaoili pointed out.

Agcaoili also noted that the supposed 63 cases of human rights violations by the NPA refer to legitimate actions against military targets in connection with the armed conflict between the revolutionary movement and the GRP.

"The NPA strictly adheres to international humanitarian law and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) in the conduct of the armed conflict," he affirmed.

"Ermita should come to terms with his and the GRP's culpability for war crimes committed against civilians and hors de combat under the Arroyo regime's Oplan Bantay Laya I and II. Not a single day goes by that the GRP does not commit heinous attacks against the people. If liars could be struck by lightning, Ermita and his ilk would have been reduced to cinders long ago," he concluded.