THE US State Department reports that human rights abuses continue to be pervasive in the Philippines today. Quoting reports from our own Commission on Human Rights, it named the Philippine National Police as the "worst abuser of human rights."

It said that while the government "generally respected the human rights of its citizens, pervasive weakness in the rule of law, official impunity, and the wide disparity between rich and poor contributed to cynicism about official justice."

The State Department released today its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, describing the status of individual rights and freedoms from around the world and calling on all nations to promote an environment "in which human rights can flourish."

The Philippines is among 196 countries whose human rights practices are reviewed in the reports.

The report listed the following human rights problems that remain pervasive in the Philippines today:

  • arbitrary, unlawful, and extrajudicial killings by elements of the security services; and political killings, including killings of journalists, by a variety of actors, which often go unpunished
  • disappearances
  • physical and psychological abuse of suspects and detainees and instances of torture
  • arbitrary arrest and detention
  • police, prosecutorial, and judicial corruption
  • long delays in trials
  • harsh prison conditions
  • societal discrimination against Muslims
  • harassment of some human rights and left-wing political activists by local military and police forces
  • violence against women and abuse of children, as well as child prostitution, and trafficking in persons
  • child labor, including underage domestic servants
  • ineffective implementation and enforcement of worker rights

The report provided details of specific cases highlighting these abuses. It also gave updates about the resolution or investigation of cases reported in the previous year.

Overall, the report paints a grim picture of the human rights situation in the country, as rights enshrined in international statutes, to which the Philippines is a signatory to, and our own Constitution are "routinely" ignored. (Click here for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; here for other covenants; and here for the 1987 Constitution’s Bill of Rights.)

While the report focused on violations committed by government agents such as the armed forces and the police, it also reviewed the behavior of other groups like the New People’s Army, the Muslim secessionist movement, and the Abu Sayyaf Group. The report particularly noted the high numbers of displaced civilian communities resulting from government’s military campaigns against these groups. 

The US State Department has been releasing annual reports on human rights practices since 1977. US laws mandate the production of these reports for countries that receive official US financial assistance, as well as all other foreign countries which are members of the United Nations. The 2005 reports include several other countries that do not fall in either of those two categories.

The State Department made the following general observations based on the 196 reports: 

First, countries in which power was concentrated in the hands of unaccountable rulers tend to be the world’s most systematic human rights violators and these states ranged from closed, totalitarian systems like Burma and North Korea to authoritarian systems like Belarus and Zimbabwe, in which the exercise of basic rights is severely restricted.

Second, human rights and democracy are closely linked and both are essential to long-term stability and security.  Free and democratic nations that respect the rights of their citizens help to lay the foundation for lasting peace.  In contrast, states that severely and systematically violate the human rights of their own people are likely to pose threats to neighboring countries and the international community.  And Iran is a case in point.

Third, some of the most serious violations of human rights are committed by governments within the context of internal and/or cross-border armed conflicts, such as in Sudan’s Darfur region.

Fourth, where civil society and independent media are under siege, fundamental freedoms are undermined.  In 2005, a disturbing number of countries from Cambodia to Venezuela and Russia, Belarus to Zimbabwe and China, passed or selectively applied laws against NGOs and the media, including, in China’s case, the internet, restricting or having a chilling effect on the exercise of fundamental freedoms of expression, association, and assembly.

Fifth, democratic elections by themselves do not ensure that human rights will be respected, but they can put a country on the path to reform and lay the groundwork for institutionalizing human rights predictions.  In 2005, the people of Iraq went to the polls three times and held to democracy’s course, despite high levels of violence.  The men and women of Afghanistan cast their ballots countrywide in the first free legislative elections since 1969, even as the government struggled to expand its authority over provincial centers due to continued insecurity and violent resistance from some quarters.  The first post-conflict elections in Liberia resulted in Africa’s first elected female head of state, marking a milestone in Libya’s [Liberia’s] transition from civil war to democracy.

Sixth and finally, progress on democratic reform and human rights — and this is critically important — progress is neither linear, nor is it guaranteed.  As a reading of the various reports will show, some states still have weak institutions of democratic government and they continue to struggle.  Others have yet to fully commit to the democratic process.  Democratically elected governments do not always govern democratically once they are in power.  But despite hard realities and high obstacles, they’re an increasing worldwide demand for greater personal and political freedom and for adoption of democratic principles of government.

In her remarks announcing the publication of the Reports at 11:00 EST, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the US "stand(s) in solidarity with the courageous men and women across the globe who live in fear, yet dream of freedom." Rice said:

Today, there is a worldwide discussion of democratic ideas and the universal principles that democratic governance protects. This discussion is taking place from the halls of government in newly democratic Iraq to internet cafes around the globe, in numerous public squares and across countless kitchen tables. Indeed, the promotion of human rights and democracy is a truly global phenomenon.

The duty to defend human rights and to help spread democracies’ blessings is especially great for the United States and other free nations. That is why we are working with other democracies to develop the institutions that will ensure human rights are respected over the long term. We must help struggling democracies deliver on the high hopes of their citizens for a better life. We must call countries to account when they retreat from their human rights commitments and we must always stand in solidarity with the courageous men and women across the globe who live in fear, yet dream of freedom.

The reports make the case for democratic governance in order for human rights to thrive:

The increasing demand for democratic governance reflects recognition that the best guarantor of human rights is a thriving democracy with representative, accountable institutions of government, equal rights under the rule of law, a robust civil society, political pluralism, and independent media.

In the Philippines, there are various human rights organizations that monitor the situation in the country, including the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines which keeps a tab at violations. The Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance similarly reports on disappearances in which security forces are suspected. But, as the US State Department noted, the courts and police "failed to address adequately complaints of victims’ families."

"Judicial inaction contributed to a climate of impunity and undermined public confidence in the justice system," the report said, adding that human rights workers themselves are subjected to abuses including abduction and killing. 

Read:

the Philippines country report
the Country Reports
Secretary Rice’s remarks

22 Responses to US State Department: PNP worst
abuser of human rights

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Rizalist

March 9th, 2006 at 11:53 am

This report is not just powerful rhetoric. It can be used as the basis for prosecuting real cases of abuse, such as Senator Jamby Madrigals suit in the United Nations. If you read the notice at the State Dept. Website, you will see that it says, the Report and its accompanying presentation to the Media, (which had been pre-announced for a legal purpose), is ON-CAMERA and ON THE RECORD. That has definite, juridical meaning under US law. Filipinos especially in America and Filipino-American dual citizens have legal standing to pursue various avenues of aid and assistance from like minded people in the US and elsewhere with this Offical Report. The US Congress takes especial notice of this document every year, when it reveiws Aid PRograms and other bilateral ties. It is a very, very important document for the fight to keep Democracy alive in the Philippines and bring her to her just and deserved stature in the world. Not this New Uganda that we have.

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jester-in-exile

March 9th, 2006 at 1:03 pm

“Democratically elected governments do not always govern democratically once they are in power.”

how much more so with a government whose election is suspect?

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jr_lad

March 9th, 2006 at 1:25 pm

wow! lahat na halos ng human rights problems nasama na sa listahan. Conde Rice aptly said it all. a smack on glue-ria’s face.

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ryebosco

March 9th, 2006 at 1:31 pm

“…which often go unpunished…”

The above is the only phrase that caught my attention.

Democracy, human rights, progress, etc…, do all these apply to the majority of Filipinos or to the corrupt few running the country “which often go unpunished.”?

William Esposo said, “Nothing can be more inclined towards violence than people who are hungry and angry. We have over 20 million of them.”

If we have corruption unpunished and millions affected, does this mean we are headed for a civil war?

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jojo

March 9th, 2006 at 2:00 pm

methinks the cops and the prison system here pale in comparison to Guantanamo and the US-managed prisons in Iraq. :chuckle:

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indio_lawless

March 9th, 2006 at 2:05 pm

Naks naman, kailangan pa ng affirmation ni Big Brother ang pang-aabuso ng mga kawani nang PNP.

Sino ba ang boss ng PNP? Sino ba ang tagapagbigay utos?
Sino ba nag cause nglahat ng ito?

May kasabihang legal nagsasaad na : The cause of the evil is the cause of the evil cause. :p

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scud_1975

March 9th, 2006 at 2:21 pm

“They fetch their man every time.”

Common knowledge na yan. Kaya naman kahit mga bata alam na kung sino ang dapat katakutin. Sabihin mo lang, “Hala ka, kukunin ka ng pulis” mabilis pa sa alas kwatro susunod na sayo.

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jojo

March 9th, 2006 at 2:26 pm

Related to my previous comment, it is interesting to note of the US status as a diplomatic “rogue state” after it opposed in 1989 the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child; the 1999 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), an independent body created to prosecute genocide and crimes against humanity; and the 2005 U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) treaty aimed at protecting cultural diversity worldwide.

And the list of U.N. treaties and conventions that Washington has not signed or has actively opposed goes on and on – the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; the Treaty Banning Antipersonnel Mines; a protocol to create a compliance regime for the Biological Weapons Convention; the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; the U.S. is also not complying with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Commission, and the U.N. framework Convention on Climate Change.

Human rights, alas.

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jonathan

March 9th, 2006 at 3:06 pm

sounds like the great U.S. of A is in its holier-than-thou attitude again. The list of so-called human rights violations perpetrated by the Philippines is basically the same list of violations that they have been charging us for more than twenty years, encompassing 5 Presidents. If im not mistaken the same list of countries are being charged for the same offenses year after year after year. This is not in any way to minimize the gravity of the charge. by all means, let us prosecute and send to jail human rights violators. But in all its sanctimonius posturings the great U.S. of A forgot about the biggest human rights violator of all: Itself! the Abu Ghareb and Guantanamo Bay detainees, and lately the New Orleans evacuees are examples of shameful acts of human rights violations perpetrated.

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jester-in-exile

March 9th, 2006 at 3:27 pm

jojo, jonathan,

that’s reflective of what kissinger said, “nations don’t have principles, they have interests.”

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ka lando

March 9th, 2006 at 7:18 pm

Tsk.. Ang US government… akala mo kung sinong malinis..

Guys, check out this link (PC speaker/earphone required)

http://www.filmstripinternational.com/

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jhay

March 9th, 2006 at 9:16 pm

True that the US has Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghareb, Subic and Jolo as pitfalls in their own Human Rights record, their word against the PNP as the biggest violator of human rights in our country is a just an affirmation of what has been happening since GMA took over, first by chance then by fraud.

It is also a stark reminder that we are in effect, back to where we were 35 years ago.

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tongue in, anew

March 10th, 2006 at 4:50 am

…”the best guarantor of human rights is a thriving democracy with representative, accountable institutions of government, equal rights under the rule of law, a robust civil society, political pluralism, and independent media”… – The Philippines a failure in almost all fronts, well, except the last one. It still has an independent media but by all indications, this, too, may soon go.

Now, I understand why Condi Rice cold-shoulders the present Malacañang tenant. Initially, Gloria’s gov’t, in Rice’s view, mirrors Burma’s treatment of Aung San Suu-Kyi, but now it also epitomizes the definition of what a human rights offender-nation is.

In addition to that, the recent flak we got from the State Department regarding human trafficking, the rejected state visit to Washington to see her Dubya, the surprise visit of top-spy John Negroponte on the eve of Garci’s testimony, the tongue-lashing from Chris Hill on PP1017, a newly-appointed woman Ambassador in Roxas Blvd., and the recent shift from “unequivocal support” to a “we-are-watching-your-every-move” attitude all point towards a weaning US-RP relationship, courtesy of human rights violator non-pareil, GMA.

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polsjs

March 10th, 2006 at 6:39 am

BY COMMAND RESPONSBILITY impeachable offense ba yan?
kapag may P1017 mas mabigat ang command responsibity ng commander in chief?

wala bang WARRANTof ARREST for GLORIA ?

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tongue in, anew

March 10th, 2006 at 7:56 am

polsjs,
Di na kailangan ng warrant of arrest for Gloria. A warrantless arrest will apply to her as she is still in the act of comitting a crime. Even a citizen’s arrest will apply. She is still committing the crime of stealing, both the presidency and our freedoms. She also committed rebellion in 2001 and rebellion is a continuing crime. That’s aside from the other crimes she did since 2001. If you happen to bump into her, announce that you are arresting her, ok?

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LadyL

March 10th, 2006 at 1:16 pm

The difference between the human rights abusers in the U.S. military and their counterparts in the Philippines is that: in the U.S. if you get caught, you’ll face the consequences of your actions by being court martialed and then sent to jail. This is what happened to the ring leader at the Abu Gharib prison in Iraq. Whereas, in the Philippines, when the PNP abused the protesters by beating them up, Mrs. Macapal-Arrovo awarded them with medals instead. You do a bad deed, you get praise, so, what’s the incentive for these cops to do good?

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tongue in, anew

March 11th, 2006 at 4:21 am

Oh yes, LadyL, this issue on awarding medals has reached scandalous proportions, again, by virtue of another self-serving proclamation of the faux-president – the little despot short and stout.

NCRPO’s Apeng Querol was awarded the Medal of Valor in 2001, the Phils’ equivalent to the US Congressional Medal of Honor, which by tradition, was reserved to supreme heroic acts by citizens under absolutely untenable circumstances that the awardee may have sacrificed his life to defend his country. The process before is such that it can compare with the Catholic Church’s canonization of a saint.

The Medal of Valor is the highest decoration any soldier, polceman, or civilian can be bestowed with that anyone wearing it compels even the president to salute him. What did Querol do to merit such honor aside from scaring away the rowdy unarmed protesters during the May 1 march to Malacañang, by ordering the Task Force Libra to shoot their rifles into the air? Feeling disrespected and scorrned, two previous awardees, in turn, protested Querol’s medal and even threatened to return theirs. I’ve not heard about it since then.

If you earned yours in the fashion that, say, war-time ace pilot Capt. Jesus Villamor (after whom the old US Nichols Air Base is now named), or a more recent one, yes, by Col. Ariel Querubin for his heroic exploits against the MILF and the Abu Sayyaf, then you have all the reason to march with your men to EDSA and declare your withdrawal of support from this government that equates the state to the person holding the presidency.

I wonder, though, if the dictator will salute Querubin during her upcoming (one-way?) dialogue with “her” soldiers.

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tongue in, anew

March 11th, 2006 at 4:45 am

Following Gloria’s argument justifying the medal, Gen. Apeng Querol, by now should hold the world record for the most medals for such award, as he continues to order his riot-initiating squads (anti-riot squad is a misnomer) to assault unarmed protesters almost as a daily routine.

On the other hand, he could be singled out by the US State Dept. as the world’s most infamous flagrant violator of human rights in recent times.

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assumptionista

March 11th, 2006 at 5:31 am

In a lot of occasions Querol said that no ones above the law…….funny………look who’s talking about following the law……..CPR…….1017……….EO464……….. anyway Querol has a new house in AFPOVAI, Fort Bonifacio……..it was just finished a month ago………… did he used his own money…….your guess is as good as mine……….money……money….money….lots of money……

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jr_lad

March 12th, 2006 at 12:18 am

the pnp is the spoiled brat of the (fake) administration now. the warrantless arrest, the cpr. the drug dens just a stone away from police presincts. and the latest, the trigger happy tmg shooting on an innocent civilian w/ follow-up intimidation. i remember copland of sly stallone.

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jay seneca

March 12th, 2006 at 5:43 pm

will anyone please check this out. the law creating
the PNP has the objective of civilianization of the
police to make over the the PC’s criminal image,
that’s why the positions are not military in nature.
like superintendents, directos, stc, NOT COLONELS
OR GENERALS. THEREFORE, ERGO, DAPAT LANG,
ALL PNPS USING MILITARY RANK TITLES ARE FAKE,
REPEAT ALL PNP MAJORS, COLONELS, ALL GENERALS
ARE FAKE LIKE THEIR PRESIDENT.

CAN THESE GENERALS BE CHARGED IN COURT
FOR USURPATION OF TITLES OF AUTHORITY?

WHAT KIND OF AN INSTITUTION IS THE PNP
WHEN IT IS LED BY FAKE GENERALS?

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penpenpen88

March 13th, 2006 at 5:59 pm

The difference between the human rights abusers in the U.S. military and their counterparts in the Philippines is that: in the U.S. if you get caught, you’ll face the consequences of your actions by being court martialed and then sent to jail. This is what happened to the ring leader at the Abu Gharib prison in Iraq. Whereas, in the Philippines, when the PNP abused the protesters by beating them up, Mrs. Macapal-Arrovo awarded them with medals instead. You do a bad deed, you get praise, so, what’s the incentive for these cops to do good?

–tama… si ate glue is propagating a system of rewarding those corrupt abusive types who are loyal to her.. and jailing all those others who oppose her… this breeds corrupt executive legistative and military personnels.. tpos where wonderin why most of our money is wasted away due to gvernment corruption?? toink.. its like an dyan na ang problem in front of our face yet we choose to debate our way out of it.. in denial ba??.. ganyan po tau kaya up till now di pa rin tayo progressibo.. kasi po madaming fence sitters dyan na if di naman sila directang na iivolved they just let it be… ve vigilant.. be discerning.. report abuses.. dont just sweep if under the rug.. kasi parami ng parami yan in the end it wil overwhelm you… kennedy said ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.. think we should follow that maxim by heart.. and not let any more people whom alam naman natin na corrupt eh hinahalal pa rin natin.. alam na nga nating coup plotter eh ginawa pa nating presidente.. walang ba tayong logic?..

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