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MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III will have to face emerging human rights concerns, including internet freedom, even as his administration continues to be hounded by cases of unsolved killings and other human rights violations, a lawyer specializing in human rights issues said Friday.
Lawyer Glenda Litong of the University of the Philippines Institute of Human Rights said that the right to freedom of expression on the internet, decriminalizing libel, and the recognition of the equal rights of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people have come to the fore of issues that the government should address.
Litong made a presentation of the human rights situation in the country at a forum dubbed “UPinion: SONA” sponsored by Interaksyon.com at its Online, Onsite event at the University of the Philippines in Diliman ahead of President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23.
The United Nations Human Rights Council recently adopted a landmark resolution on the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet.
The Philippines, however, is not a signatory to the resolution.
In her presentation, Litong said extrajudicial killings continue to happen even under the Aquino administration, citing the eight victims under his watch. There were 305 cases from August 2001 to August 2010.
Victims continue to be denied justice, she added, citing the case of the two abducted UP students, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno. The main suspect in the abduction, retired general Jovito Palparan, has a pending warrant of arrest, but has remained on the loose.
Litong also said there are:
- continuing gross violations and serious abuses of human rights
- continuing involvement of security and paramilitary forces in grave human rights violations
- continuing involvement of security forces in grave human rights violations
- underlying economic, social and cultural rights violations as well as environmental rights
- increasing cases of gender-based violence