Target: President Benigno Aquino III
Goal: Enforce laws to investigate, prosecute, and try suspects of murder, torture, and enforced disappearances.
Untried crimes of murder, coerced exile, and torture were already running rampant when President Benigno Aquino III was inducted as head of the Philippine state in 2010. At that time, he made a promise to bring an end to the injustice. He would later say during his 2011 State of the Nation address, “The culture of silence, injustice and impunity that once reigned is now a thing of the past.”
Now, more than a year after that address, not one conviction has been put in the books for known crimes involving known suspects. Arrest warrants have even been issued, but not followed through on. There are numerous open cases, including the case of Francisco Baldomero, an activist who was murdered. An arrest warrant was issued, but the case has since been archived. There is also the case of Rene Quirante, an activist who was beaten and shot by military members. Arrest warrants were issued for two suspects, yet neither has been taken into custody. The cases go on in a similar fashion.
What is most frightening is that the suspects in the majority of these crimes are members of state security forces. These people are essentially employees of President Aquino. He must act to take more control of the situation by enforcing harsher rules for police to bring the list of suspects into custody.
The Human Rights Watch activist group has suggested directly to the president that he order the National Bureau of Investigation to open files on military and police personnel, reestablish police responsibility for solving state crimes, order military members to cooperate in any investigation, and solidify an independent and secure witness protection program. Sign below to second this suggestion and demand that something more be done to prosecute state crimes in the Philippines.
Dear President Benigno Aquino III,
Two years have now passed since your inauguration when you promised to bring justice to the crimes committed by state security forces. Not one conviction stands in that time. Meanwhile, missing persons are unaccounted for, murder suspects walk about free, and arrest warrants are in many cases rendered meaningless.
You made a promise to your country, to your people, to yourself. There is more you and your administration can do to pursue criminal justice. You can provide orders to your National Bureau of Investigation to open files on police and military personnel where suspected cases of public abuse are an issue. You can solidify, secure, and make independent your witness protection program, ensuring safety for any witnesses who may come forward. You can impose penalties for police unwilling to pursue arrest warrants. You can do more.
Please take further action for the promises you’ve made, and more importantly, for the safety and confidence of your citizens.
[Your Name Here]