Philippines: Ocampo lauds High Court’s commitment on human rights

Jun. 07, 2007

MANILA — House Deputy Minority Leader Satur C. Ocampo today welcomed Chief
Justice Reynato Puno’s assurances that the Supreme Court will use its
authority to enhance the promotion of human rights in face continued
slays, abductions and other human rights abuses under the Arroyo

“Chief Justice Puno and the court are veritable torchbearers of hope
at this time of gloom and despair in view of the Executive’s failure
to stop or sponsorship of the massacre and disappearance of
innocents,” said Ocampo.

Ocampo added that Puno’s new statement and the strongly-worded court
decision dismissing the trumped-up rebellion charges against the
Batasan 6 are “warnings on the Arroyo government over its clear
tendency to abuse power.”

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National
Police are also practically being put on notice that it is not them,
but the law, which should be followed. This is especially true in the
case of rampant human rights violations that have marked the
counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya which considers as targets
members and leaders of progressive people’s organizations and
partylist groups,” said Ocampo.

Ocampo said that “the state security forces and the defense
establishment have been downplaying human rights abuses as nothing but
collateral damage in their war on terrorism. But Puno is right in
pointing out that this cannot be allowed because the military and the
police cannot put the law in their own hands or cannot themselves be
the law.”

Bayan Muna General Counsel Neri Colmenares said that Filipino
barristers should emulate the Supreme Court’s adherence to the rule of

Said Colmenares: We see so many incidents where the spirit and letter
of the law are twisted and misused by the authorities, including the
President and her allies. The high court led by Chief Justice Puno
should inspire us lawyers to uphold the rule of law to advance the
welfare and interests of the people, be it in presidential perfidy,
human rights abuses or electoral cheating.

In a brief audience with the Hong Kong Campaign for the Advancement of
Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (HKCAHRPP) who met him
during the 12th Conference of Chief Justices and of Asia and the
Pacific, Puno said that the high court will use new powers granted it
by the Constitution to protect civil liberties.

Puno said the court is concerned over the killings and enforced
disappearances because “they represent a violation of human rights.
People will dispense justice by their own hands. That is a violation
of the rule of law.” ###

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