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Rights group welcomes US Senate's precondition to RP aid

A Press Statement by KARAPATAN
November 6, 2007

We welcome the US Senate's decision to impose human rights-related conditions for the additional military aid to the Arroyo government. We have been urging the US Senate to rethink giving aid to the Philippine government given its failure to address extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and other forms of human rights violations.

The Arroyo regime and its state security forces continue to violate the rights of its people. To this day, cases of abduction and harassment of human rights defenders persist. Recently, two of our colleagues at the national office experienced harassment through a texted death threat to one and to another, being photographed by men riding on a motorcycle without a license plate, while on board a public jeepney. This incident not only shows blatant disregard to the rights of the people but is a more telling evidence of the blatant lie that the Philippine government has been saying to the US Senate that this administration doesn't tolerate rights violations.

The Philippine government must be made to also put a stop to the implementation of Oplan Bantay Laya II, a counter-insurgency program that is behind the continuing attacks against activists and critics of the Arroyo government.

We would like to caution the US Senate that it must thoroughly look into the alleged measures the government has been putting in place to stop the killings and other rights violations.  It is not enough that rhetorics to this effect must be the yardstick to determine that the human rights situation has changed, but as Prof. Alston correctly pointed out in his statement to the 3rd committee of the UN General Assembly, "The bottom line is that only the elimination of such killings and the ending of the impunity enjoyed to date, by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in particular, will signal that the situation has turned the corner."