[below photo is the wife of slain labour leader Tirso Cruz, Elizabeth. Above is Elizabeth’s 1-year-old son Zoren who sleeps on his improvised swing-bed. Tirso was killed on 17 March 2006 in Concepcion, Tarlac.]
Killings of activists has since been become a shocking trend all over the country.
Of why most of these cases remains unsolved, is the failure of the government itself to implement laws, in particular the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act (RA 6981), amongst others.
Obviously the police could not produce conclusive findings in their investigation if potential witnesses and families of the dead are either reluctant or refuse to cooperate with them. There is an extreme fear for their lives that they too would be in danger once they are exposed. Thereby making it extremely difficult for prosecutors to prosecute the perpetrators.
Despite being completely aware of this, the police and the prosecutors are failing to adequately assist the witnesses and families of the dead to recommend them to the DoJ as beneficiary for RA 6981. What the police usually do instead is to excuse themselves by saying: we don’t have witness or the witnesses should come forward. They should instead ensure the security and protection of witnesses instead of excusing their selves from responsibility and blaming the witnesses.
How would you expect witnesses or anyone who have knowledge to a crime if they too fears for their lives once they are exposed? Not only the government is failing to provide them security, it seems the effort by local organisations to also take initiative to at least provide them temporary sanctuaries is also negligible.
While it is a fact that some police officer are also involved in killings, as what happened to labour leader Gerardo Cristobal of Imus, Cavite, whose attacker hooded with bonnets are found to be police officers but this should be use to justify that police is generally incapable–although it is fact that there is a need for them to improved. Those responsible police should be only be prosecuted.
Although i too had mixed emotions as to the capability of the police force, in particular the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), to provide security and protection to the witnesses and families of the dead, i think there should be at least “minimum and reasonable” trust on part of the victims in order for the police and NBI to perform their job.
While it is a fact that our DoJ Secretary Raul Gonzalez is seemed to have prejudice amongst the leftist activists, what he must do is to “fairly” assess those who are in need of security and protection under the RA 6981. Wether the witnesses, victims and the families of the dead are leftist or not, this must not be use as justification to deprive of them of their constitutional right.
As what the police authorities claimed, not all of these killings are politically motivated. Therefore, to deny the witnesses possibility of protection on the basis of their affiliations and prejudice amongst them is totally unacceptable.
Now that the government is elected as member of the UN Human Rights Council, it should take effective measures to adhere to the “highest standards” of protection of human rights within the country and abroad it claims to upheld–one is to effectively implement the RA 6981–if the government is to effectively address these killings.
The country’s membership to the UN Human Rights Council must not be use to exploit in order to cover-up the government’s inaction or failing to its commitment for the protection of human rights it claims to uphold.