Human Rights Watch: Aquino gov’t lacks accountability, fails to deliver on promises
Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - January 27, 2016 - 9:13pm

MANILA, Philippines – A report from an international human rights group on Wednesday concluded that President Benigno Aquino III’s six-year term lacks accountability and failed to fulfill its promise to improve human rights in the country.

In a 659-page World Report 2016 launched by Human Rights Watch (HRW) in New York City on Wednesday evening, the group indicated that Aquino’s six-year term will end in mid-2016 without achieving his promised goal to significantly improve human rights in the country.

The report added that during the Aquino administration, there was only little accountability for the killings of indigenous leaders, activists, and journalists and other serious abuses.

“Since his election, President Aquino held out the promise of a rights-respecting Philippines for which he has sadly been unable to deliver,” said HRW Deputy Asia Director Phelim Kine.

“While Aquino’s presidency has had a mixed record on rights issues, ultimately he has failed to make the institutional reforms to ensure a lasting positive human rights legacy,” he added.

The group reviewed the human rights practices in more than 90 countries for its World Report 2016. It also enumerated several human rights violations reported by the local rights in 2015 including killings, military conflicts, children abuses and displaced persons.

“While the number of serious violations has declined during Aquino’s administration, ongoing killings of prominent activists and the lack of successful prosecutions mean there’s nothing to prevent an upsurge of abuses in the future,” Kine said.

Based on its review, it said the Philippine military and paramilitary groups allegedly killed over a dozen tribal leaders and tribal community during the first eight months of 2015 and noted that nine journalists were killed in 2015 with three of them killed within over 10 days in August and only one suspect arrested in these killings.

The United Nations (UN) refugee agency reported that since January 2015, the military operation on some areas in Mindanao contributed to the displacement of about 243,000 people who experienced food, shelter and health care deprivation.

In relation to UN refugee agency’s report, in August, armed conflicts and paramilitaries raiding several schools hindered children in various areas from attending schools. It resulted to killing a school administrator in August.

The human rights group also mentioned that “death squads” or contract killers in several cities continued and were responsible of killings of alleged petty criminals and drug dealers, among others. It cited that local officials such as presidential aspirant Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte publicly encouraged these killings in some instances.

In its report, the HRW learned that in 2015, children in the Philippines experienced human rights abuses citing a documented report in 2015 that revealed children are engaged in small-scale gold mining, exposed to extremely hazardous work conditions, working deep underground, diving underwater to find gold and processing ore with toxic mercury.

The HRW also reported that hundreds of homeless and poor were detained in November to clear the areas with street-dwellers for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, also done during the other high-profile events such as the Papal visit.

The HRW hopes the next administration will improve the human rights situation in the country.

“The Philippines’ next president must be prepared to tackle deep-seated impunity for abuses by state security forces and the corrupt and politicized criminal justice system,” Kine said.

ACIRC AQUINO ASIA-PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION DAVAO CITY MAYOR RODRIGO DUTERTE DEPUTY ASIA DIRECTOR PHELIM KINE HUMAN HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH NEW YORK CITY PRESIDENT AQUINO RIGHTS WORLD REPORT
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