The Murder Of Rebelyn Pitao
The woeful state of human rights in the country has been highlighted yet again by the gruesome death of Rebelyn Pitao.
Of course, we are being told that President Arroyo herself has ordered authorities to get to the bottom of the incident.
The stark reality is there is widespread suspicion again that government security forces were behind Rebelyn’s death.
Her killers are still on the loose somewhere and cannot but heighten the climate of fear in Carmen, Davao Del Norte.
Just recently the US Statement described the severity of the situation involving Philippine state security elements thus:
Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
Security forces and antigovernment insurgents committed a number of arbitrary and unlawful killings. The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), an independent government agency, investigated 173 new complaints of killings that occurred during the year; 67 of these cases were classified as politically motivated. The CHR suspected personnel from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in a number of the killings of leftist activists operating in rural areas. Allegations of summary executions by government security forces were referred to the nongovernmental organization (NGO) Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP). The TFDP was unable to investigate all of these allegations, but it alleged the summary execution of four individuals by government forces. Through year’s end, the PNP Task Force Usig recorded 146 cases of killings since 2001, six of which occurred during the year; 90 cases were filed in court, with one conviction during the year. At least one human rights organization, Karapatan, claimed that there have been more than 900 killings since 2001, with both state actors and non-state actors as suspects. It recorded 69 victims of killings during the year.
In April UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston issued a report based on his February 2007 mission. Among other findings, the report noted that the government’s counterinsurgency strategy presumed some civil society groups had ties to the CPP or the NPA and led security forces to treat leftist leaders and community organizers as legitimate targets.
We are supposed to be living in a democracy with the Bill of Rights a cornerstone of the Republic.
But what has just happened to 20-year-old Rebelyn Pitao tells us otherwise.