Student publications held a candlelighting ceremony in commemoration of the ninth year of the death of Benjaline Hernandez, a human rights defender and journalist killed by military elements.
The publications held a short program after the ceremony in Boy Scout Circle, Tomas Morato, urging Benigno Aquino III’s administration to hold former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo accountable for the death of Hernandez. Aquino should now act with resolve especially as the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee released a resolution establishing that the government is responsible for the death of Hernandez.
“The resolution is not simply an accusation. The UN established that Arroyo’s administration is responsible for the death of Hernandez. It is an outright condemnation of a crime committed against the people,” said Trina Federis, national president of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, the broadest intercollegiate alliance of student publications in the country.
According to the resolution, the government did not exhaust all legal means possible to resolve Hernandez’s case. Nine years have passed and still no justice has been served despite the overwhelming evidence of military culpability.
If Aquino chooses to ignore this harsh reality, then it only shows that his administration does not distinguish between civilians and armed rebels
Hernandez was conducting a fact-finding mission on the peasants’ situation in Arakan Valley, Cotabato when she was killed by members of the 12th Special Forces Company. She was also the former CEGP vice president for Mindanao.
“The resolution is enough impetus for Aquino to finally take decisive measures in resolving the case of Hernandez. He should fulfill his promise of holding Arroyo accountable, especially as he was catapulted to power by distinguishing himself from his predecessor,” said Federis.
If Aquino does not take immediate action despite this development, it only proves that he was never serious in upholding human rights and press freedom, said Ednalyn dela Cruz, CEGP national secretary general.
“Journalists who chose to write for the people remain threatened by the existing culture of impunity. If Aquino chooses to ignore this harsh reality, then it only shows that his administration does not distinguish between civilians and armed rebels. It only shows that his administration rabidly suppresses those who wanted to criticize the policies that are flawed to begin with. How is he then different from Arroyo?” said dela Cruz. ###