Human rights advocate calls for genuine reform in gov't

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN News, North America Bureau

Posted at Mar 01 2014 12:44 PM | Updated as of Mar 01 2014 08:44 PM

NEW YORK – The Committee to Protect Journalists said the Philippines is the third most dangerous country in the world for journalists, next to Iraq and Somalia.

Human Rights Watch New York reported that 12 journalists were killed in the Philippines last year, bringing the total number of media workers killed to 26 since President Aquino took office in 2010.

Carlos Conde, a former journalist and now human rights advocate, said there are several reasons why extra-judicial killings continue in the Philippines.

“We have a really dysfunctional political culture where political dynasties rule, and that they’re very very resistant to criticisms, they hate criticisms.” Conde said. “That’s why they target critics, like the media, activists and all that.”

Conde added that the Philippines needs to make genuine reforms within the government.

“We have to reform the criminal justice system,” he said. “We have to train police officers to really investigate cases, to root out corruptions in the police and judiciary. We have to unclog the courts.”

Potri Ranka Manis is a survivor of human rights violations under the Marcos regime. She was reportedly abducted, tortured and detained during martial law and was released only in 1986.

She recently received two payments of a thousand dollars each as part of settlement in a class lawsuit filed in the US by about 9,000 victims of human rights abuses during the Marcos era.

But to this day, Potri said her abductors and torturers were never held accountable.

She reminded Aquino never to forget about them.

“President Aquino, your father was also a victim, your father was the victim of impunity,” she said. “In fact, those people arrested were fall guys. I hope the President and the political powers in the Philippines will shed light and align with real justice.”