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REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES: H.E. Benigno Aquino III President Republic of the Philippines

30 Jun 2010
[Japan Section]
Region: REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
Topic: International human rights law
June 23, 2010

Dear Mr. President

By exercising the people’s power to vote, Filipinos have elected you their President. On behalf of Amnesty International Japan we congratulate you on your recent election.
Your presidency brings much needed hope for meaningful change for the Filipino people. Early in your campaign period, Amnesty International asked you to make public your commitment to human rights if elected President. While we recognize that you have committed to fighting corruption, prioritizing education, protecting public health and delivering justice, we note that you have not made any specific commitment to protecting human rights.

The politically motivated killings of at least 100 people ahead of the recent elections, the massacre of journalists in Maguindanao, the hundreds of killings and enforced disappearances of activists in the last decade are all symptoms of a country whose government has failed to respect and protect the rights of its people. Amnesty International Japan, along with other NGOs in Japan, has been urging former President Arroyo to bring justice for victims and their families of political killings and enforced disappearances. We therefore greatly expect that new presidency will challenge the human rights violations as a matter of urgency.

Human rights are not just for political prisoners held by tyrannical regimes; they are fundamental and they apply equally to everyone. We urge your administration to prioritize human rights by making concrete commitments. Amnesty International consulted with various local sectoral and human rights groups in the Philippines. Based on this, we present to you a list of practicable recommendations for actions which we urge you to take on your first 100 days as President.

End political killings and enforced disappearances
1.Immediately sign the UN treaty on enforced disappearances (International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances) as a step towards ratification;
2.Establish a presidential commission that will review all reported cases of extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances during the last decade, in cooperation with impartial bodies such as the EU Justice Assistance Program, with the aim of enabling speedy prosecutions for cases with enough evidence, or reopening investigations for cases whose progress is stalled due to lack of effective investigation;

End human rights abuses by militias, paramilitaries and private armies
3.Revoke Executive Order 546, which directs the Philippine National Police to support the military in counterinsurgency, including through the use of militias and paramilitary groups;
4.Disarm and disband all private armies;

Instill human rights protections in governance
5.Implement through an Executive Order a clear and transparent mechanism that prevents the promotion or appointment of persons who face allegations or have records of grave human rights abuses to senior levels of government, law enforcement, the judiciary, and command posts for the military;
6.Declare, as a presidential priority bill, the charter of the Commission on Human Rights in the Philippines, facilitating its approval in both legislative houses;

Protect and support people displaced by the armed conflict
7.Order the relevant departments and agencies in government to take stock of the current situation of the estimated 125,000 long-term internally displaced population in Mindanao, and ensure that those who are displaced are provided with adequate food, water, shelter, clothing, as well as essential healthcare and sanitation;

Commit to global human rights treaties
8.Certify as urgent for concurrence of the Senate the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;
9.Immediately sign the Optional Protocol of the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to facilitate the process of ratification within your administration’s term;
10.Immediately transmit to the Senate the instrument of ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court for their deliberations.

Mr. President, you have pledged to be the “Peoples’ President”, a “Listening President”, and a President who will bring forth transformational change in the Philippines. The Filipino people pin high hopes on you. With the campaign period and the elections behind you, it is time to make true to your promises. We at Amnesty International await your response to our 10 recommendations for your administration’s first 100 days.

Thank you.
With much sincerity and hope,

Makoto Teranaka
Director
Amnesty International Japan

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