Atty. Romeo Capulong, noted international human rights lawyer and former United Nations court judge, called me up this afternoon, and sought help to publicize his views on the Inquirer banner story today.
According to Atty. Capulong, Senator-elect Antonio Trillanes IV and the two generals who have vowed to come out with damning evidence on the military’s extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances of activists have obligations under the Constitution to disclose any information pertinent to the issues.
Capulong said that that soldiers — as protectors of the people — are required by the Constitution to take steps to protect the people from human rights abuses especially in the course of their operations. So much so when there is an official policy or directives from the military top brass to engage in killings, abductions and torture.
All citizens, Capulong contends, have statutory obligations too under the Constitution to speak out on law and human rights violations.
Capulong also states that the Geneva Conventions, the Laws of War and international human rights instruments to which the Philippines is a signatory outrightly ban extrajudicial executions, torture and abductions of civilians, non-combatants and hors de combat (combatants who are no longer capable of fighting). Soldiers and officers who have information on how, and why these crimes against humanity are committed should come out.
The urgency of the situation — with more killings happening since Friday with the shooting of Bayan Muna-Bohol leader Mayong Auxilio which led to his death yesterday, and the murder today of people’s lawyer Luis Dote in Legaspi City, and the continued failure of authorities to surface Jonas Burgos, Luisa Posa-Dominado and Nilo Arado, among others — compel Trillanes and conscientious generals to speak out as soon as possible.
The Senate hearings come July may already be too late — especially when the Terror Law antedates the resumption of Congress sessions.