President Benigno Aquino III defended the Philippine government’s efforts to improve the human rights situation in the Philippines in an event that was organized by the Egmont Institute, a think-tank group based in Belgium held in Val Deuchess.
The Philippines was the focus of international attention with the spate of killings, disappearances and torture during the Arroyo administration
President Aquino cited the arrest of retired major general Jovito Palparan for his alleged involvement in the forced disappearance of two UP students in 2007 as a proof of his government’s serious efforts to put behind bars those accountable for human rights violations.
“One of the foremost human rights violators or accused, alleged human rights violators, in the person of General Palparan, who used to be a member of our Armed Forces, has recently been arrested and presently incarcerated and undergoing trial,” he said.
He reiterated his government’s commitment to human rights, rule of law and democracy.
However, he pointed out that justice for victims of human rights violations can’t be achieved without reforming the criminal justice system.
“Now, in our system also, the judicial branch is not directly under my office. We operate on three separate branches and, for instance, the so-called Maguindanao massacre is also a source of frustration for the executive department. There are 58 counts of homicide and murder on that particular case and over a hundred accused and we are still in the process of arresting some of the others accused,” he added.
President Aquino is in his four-nation European trip to meet investors from Europe and the US and to promote the Philippines not only as a tourist destination but also as an investment haven, bragging his administration’s gains in putting the economy in the right track.