Cong Corrales .
“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.” — Thomas Jefferson, 1776 US Declaration of Independence
THE Universal Declaration of Human Rights is as relevant and important today as it was when it was adopted by 48 countries, the Philippines included, 70 years ago yesterday.
Human rights watchdog Karapatan has documented that from May 23, 2017, to November this year, there were 88 victims of political killings, 128 cases of frustrated killings, and 186 victims of illegal arrests and detention in Mindanao alone.
On Sunday, a group of farmers and indigenous people from Bukidnon, numbering to about 2,000, were held up by the armed police at Patpat, Malaybalay in Bukidnon. The contingent was on its way to the city to commemorate the 70th Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Not to be deterred, the contingent staged a picket rally where they were held, and the police released them 30 minutes after.
One of the delegates observed that as soon as they were returning to their buses, the police officers started dismantling their supposed checkpoint.
“Clearly, the holding point was set up waiting only for the delegates,” reports one of the delegates.
The United Nations’ Human Rights Commission, through its special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, has warned that the ongoing militarization of Mindanao will have a massive and potentially irreversible impact on the human rights of its tribal communities.
“We urge the Philippines to observe its obligations under international law to protect the human rights of indigenous peoples, including in the context of armed conflict. The authorities must ensure that all human rights abuses are halted and that there is justice and accountability for past attacks,” Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, reported to the UN’s human rights high commissioner last year.
The figures are alarming in that since last year, there have 2,500 lumad people displaced, and the number is rising. With yet another extension of martial rule across the island, these figures will most definitely rise some more.
The UDHR is not just some mundane covenant of 48 countries. It is a document that encapsulates the age-old question, What makes one human? We must continue to assert this declaration as this administration continues to trample the very essence of what makes us humans.
Just as libertarians before us fought tooth and nail to assert their rights for a morally upright society, it is incumbent on us to take the cudgels once again during these dark days of our country.