President Benigno Simeon Aquino III
Republic of the Philippines
23 November 2010
Dear President Aquino,
It is now one year since 57 people were massacred in Magindanao in the Philippines by a local private army. Among the victims were 32 journalists, making this the worst massacre of journalists on record.
Disappearances, torture and murder remain a constant threat to community activists, church workers, lawyers, journalists and trade unionists in the Philippines. Since 1991 there have been over 1200 political killings in the Philippines and the level of killings and abuses shows no sign of abating following your election. The complicity of the Philippines armed forces in these abuses of human rights has been placed on record by among others Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
There is hope and expectation from all those around the world concerned with human rights that a new government in the Philippines will usher in a new concern for human rights. However, the first 100 days following your coming into office witnessed 16 further political killings. This surpasses the rate of killings of the last months of the previous president Mrs Arroyo. On 12 November the president of the Calamba Water District Union was gunned down by masked men on motorcycles. We have similarly seen disappearances continue with the recent cases of Agusto Ladera and Reanato Deliguer, two farmers who were abducted by soldiers in Surigao del Sur in August.
We call upon your government to bring the suspected perpetrators of the Maguindanao massacre to justice speedily; to bring to justice all those responsible for torture, murder and disappearances in the Philippines; to end the climate of impunity which allows political killings and disappearances to take place; and to ensure a safe environment for journalists and all those who work to defend a free society.
Reverend Canon Barry Naylor
Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines (UK)