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The Challenge of the Impeachment Decision: Demand State Obligation and Assert People’s Right to Transparency and Accountability

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The impeachment verdict had been cast.  The defendant Chief Justice Renato C. Corona had been found guilty by 20 of 23 Senator-Judges due to the former’s culpability under Article II of the impeachment complaint to disclose his dollar accounts in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALN).  The information obtained, not pro-actively given, about the violation of the Constitution, had underscored the government’s obligation of transparency and accountability to its citizenry.

It is the people’s right to demand accountability from every branch of and every official in government, including the officers of the security forces.  To obtain truth and justice, the people have the right to demand for full disclosure from those who have chosen to serve and / or to protect. The people must always keep their eyes open to ensure that the collective or collegiate character to serve and / or to protect is not distorted to a conspiracy for corruption and impunity.

By jest or by threat, the awareness for compliance is spreading from the corridors of government out to every ordinary person in the street.  The momentum must be sustained and institutionalized.

It is thus commendable that the Congressional Committee on Appointments included into their inquiries as to the fitness of the newly appointed Ambassadors, e.g., Nestor Padalhin, a nominee as Ambassador to Syria, the truthfulness of their SALN. 

 Now is an appropriate time for the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill to contribute to the people’s right to information.

Now is a time of grace for the security forces to break through impunity by turning over the files of extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture during the Martial Law period to obtain justice and national healing.

Now is also another opportune time for full disclosure of the facts related to the command responsibility of fugitive ex-Major General Jovito Palparan, Jr. for the illegal arrest, abduction and torture of the Manalo brothers, and  illegal detention and torture of the missing U.P. students, Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, as well as other officers of the uniformed services involved in human rights violations such as those perpetrated against the PICOP 6 (Surigao del Sur), the Abdul-Khan Balinting Ajid (Basilan), the Lenin Salas et al.(Pampanga), and Nicanor and Norman Mariano of the Dona Remedios Trinidad (Bulacan) cases.     

PAHRA calls on all its members, partners, networks and other formations of human rights defenders to set up civil society organizations and people’s intervention and monitoring mechanisms to ensure transparency and to keep track of accountability to compliance of all human rights in every level of  civilian governance and at all levels of command in the security forces.

Tuldukan na ang mga palusot at alisin ang lahat ng balakid sa pagpapatupad sa mga karapatang pantao ng mga mamamayan.

Itayo ang mga pormasyon ng Citizens’ Monitoring Mechanism.

Implement State Obligation to transparency and accountability.

Pass the Freedom of Information Bill.