ANAKPAWIS lauds New York-based Human Rights Watch vs Manila Government’s rights violations; urges new US president to clamp down aid on Arroyo

News Release

06 November 2008

ANAKPAWIS lauds New York-based Human Rights Watch vs Manila Government’s rights violations; urges new US president to clamp down aid on Arroyo

THE PROGRESSIVE party list group Anakpawis hailed the New York-based Human Rights Watch on campaigning for the immediate release of Atty. Remigio Saladero Jr. amid the worsening human rights violations being committed by the Manila government.

Anakpawis secretary-general Cherry Clemente said that the US-based rights advocate testifies against the gross human rights abuses of the Macapagal-Arroyo government and called on newly-elected US president Barack Obama and other governments to clamp down on aid for Arroyo.

“The politically-motivated arrest and detention of Atty Saladero, unjustly charged together with more than 70 other activists as of date, should merit the attention of the US and other governments especially Barack Obama.  The least these governments could do is to cut off aid aside from diplomatic pressures on the Arroyo government,” Clemente said.

“If Obama campaigned with poetry, he may as well govern in truthful prose,” Clemente added.

Human Rights Watch urged the United States and the European Union to monitor Saladero’s case closely and to call for his immediate release.

Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, in a news release, said that the arrest of Atty. Saladero last October 23 “smacks of harassment, pure and simple.”

“Saladero’s arrest shows the Philippine government is not sincere in its pledges to stop harassing lawyers and activists,” Pearson said. “It’s not just Saladero’s rights that are undermined, but the rights of all Filipinos ever in need of a lawyer.”

Saladero’s lawyer told Human Rights Watch that he was allowed to meet with Saladero in jail only after Saladero had been interrogated for six hours, even though he was entitled to legal counsel from the start of the interrogation. He is currently being held in the Calapan City provincial jail.

In recent years, the Macapagal Arroyo government has come under intense international and domestic criticism over hundreds of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of leftist activists, journalists, lawyers and clergy by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

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