THE State is duty-bound to respect and uphold human rights, in accordance to international human rights instruments and in line with the Philippine Constitution. Yet, past and present governments have been the primary violator of human rights. While Karapatan engages with all national mechanism to assist in providing redress to victims, it does not, in any way, limit the organization from pursuing and utilizing measures provided for by known international platforms.
It is the recognition that States and its security forces can knowingly and deliberately violate human rights that international bodies specifically mandated to investigate State-perpetrated abuses were formed. With the worsening human rights situation in the country, engagement in these platforms is not unfortunate. Rather, it is necessary, lest we allow the climate of impunity to continue.
We have filed several complaints before the UN Human Rights Council and engaged with UN independent experts throughout regimes – from the administrations of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Benigno Aquino III and up to this current government. We pursue these complaints doggedly as we accompany the victims and their kin in the options that they have taken in pursuing justice.
Certainly, Harry Roque and the PH government know that the UN is a completely viable mechanism for any organization to engage with. We have the necessary documentation and the families of the victims alongside us that claims of ‘fake political information’ and ‘mere propaganda’ to diminish the work that we do does nothing to deter us. On the contrary, such dismissive and defensive behavior only propel us to continue with our advocacy. Quoting Lorena Tecson, wife of peasant leader Alberto Tecson, one of the EJK cases Karapatan submitted to UN SR Agnes Callamard: “It is lamentable that Malacanang views my husband’s case and others as mere propaganda. The painful truth remains – my husband was murdered by your State forces!”
Let the PH government be reminded of the basic human rights that they have neglected and violated, in line with the policies and campaigns that they have put forward. Instead of spouting excuses, the concrete thing to do is to investigate said killings and mobilize the legal processes and inter-agency committees that Roque said are “effective” and “well-functioning” to resolve the cases raised.
At the end of the day, Karapatan is not new to such accusations. Despite this, we remain unwavering in our commitment, foremost drawing our strength from the brave families of victims and human rights defenders working on the ground for the promotion and protection of people’s rights. –Karapatan, Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
Let a Peacemaker Lead
HOPE for social change was a driving force in the election of President Rodrigo Duterte. His promises to uplift the lives of the majority, to create an atmosphere of security and peacefulness, and to deliver essential services to the people were clear reasons for Filipinos to pin their hopes with a vote for Duterte. We have yet to experience any significant social change which should be evidenced by increased job security, affordable costs for living or adequate and accessible public services. Such remain elusive to ordinary Filipinos.
With the President’s recent pronouncement of the termination of the peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDFP, he has categorically denied the people of a principled means to resolve the roots of the armed conflict. The covenant which both parties had signed was crafted as a means to bring into fore the effects of century-old poverty, injustice, landlessness, human rights violations, corruption and various concerns of the populace. President Duterte’s recent action not only stokes the fires of war, but puts in peril the poor people’s hope that peace talks will lead to national industrialization and genuine land reform.
Moreover, the threat to declare the CPP-NPA-NDF as a terrorist organization, pollutes and downgrades the gains that the peace talks had achieved through meritorious efforts by both parties. Because of such tagging, our country may suffer wanton and widespread bombings. The net result will likely be that the very people who have long suffered from martial rule and all-out war will carry the brunt of this action.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s rants and threats against legal and democratic organization as part of a conspiracy with the New People’s Army signifies intended harassment and violation of the democratic rights of the people to organize and raise their concerns to any legitimate government. Suppressing the people’s rights guaranteed by the Constitution will not bode well for the Duterte administration.
These recent actions, together with the continuing martial law in Mindanao, inhumane all-out war, and the bloody “war on drugs,” as well as efforts to impeach the Chief Justice and the Ombudsman stand in stark contrast with letting those involved in the million pesos shabu shipment and online gambling scams remain scot free. The Duterte administration is taking a path of fascist dictatorship. Such blatant threats to democracy will be resisted by the Filipino people, as these are threats to every individual and the whole of humanity.
Under the Duterte administration, no one can live in peace. Whether in urban or in rural areas, everybody—but most especially the poor—is being made vulnerable through the quickly intensifying killing machinery of Duterte.
The challenge now is to let a peacemaker lead the nation, so that we can reap peace by sowing righteousness. Let us choose a path of life over death, of light from darkness, of development from backwardness, and of peace from war. –Nardy Sabino, general secretary, Promotion of Church People’s Response(PCPR), Pcprnatl2016@gmail.com