CODAL POSITION ON HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES
CODAL urges the Senate to remove Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile as chairman of the Human Rights Committee for his anti-human rights position by ramming the Anti- Terrorism Bill in the Senate and for his lack of respect for the rights of other by threatening to slap another senator who objects to his sponsored bill. CODAL finds it incomprehensible why majority of the Senators voted Sen. Enrile to the Committee when he is sponsoring a bill considered anathema to civil liberties by the human rights community. Sen. Enrile, who helped implement martial law, cannot head a committee that will help implement the compensation of martial law victims considering that he has consistently refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing during martial law. He has publicly announced that he is remorseless for his role as martial law Defense Secretary and it is fair for the Senate to withdraw their votes for his chairmanship of the Human Rights Committee. Some CODAL lawyers were imprisoned during martial law under the direct orders of then Sec. Enrile.
Abolition of the Melo Commission
CODAL also seriously urges Pres. Gloria Arroyo to abolish the Melo Commission pending the passage of an enabling law implementing her executive order creating a fact finding body on the political killings. Such law will define the process for selecting the members, the procedure and the powers of the body. CODAL notes that the although the Davide Commission was created through AO 146, an administrative order, Pres. Corazon Aquino waited for Congress to pass a law before constituting the Commission. Congress passed Republic Act 6832 which expressly granted the Davide Commission contempt powers and the power to grant immunity.
Without the appropriate procedures that will generate credibility for a fact finding body, contempt powers that will ensure production of witnesses and evidence and the power to grant immunity, the Melo Commission is nothing but a ‘gatherer’ of evidence as Sec. Eduardo Ermita himself called the still born Truth Commission on electoral fraud. Malacanang previously proposed the creation of a truth commission to look into the Garcillano scandal through an administrative order “that will be patterned after the Davide Commission ….which was reinforced by a legislation passed by Congress. CODAL wishes to remind Malacanang that Sec. Ermita once said that ‘Without legislation, its (the fact finding body) just a gathering of facts.”
CODAL also condemns the killing of Bishop Alberto Ramento and reiterates its call for Pres. Gloria Arroyo to act swiftly to stop the killings of activists. Bishop Ramento was an outspoken critic of Pres. Arroyo and has been an active member of the Presidium of the Citizens Congress for Truth and Accountability (CCTA). He voted to find Pres. Arroyo culpable for graft and corruption, electoral fraud and human rights violations in the CCTA verdict. CODAL urges the police not to hastily conclude that the killing was an ordinary case of robbery as it may mislead investigators and cause the real criminals to escape investigation.
Reference Person: Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares (October 6, 2006)