December 10, 2016
On International Human Rights Day: “We say, enough!”
Human Rights have taken a serious beating the past few months.
The sneaky burial of the dictator Marcos was an assault on the thousands of human rights victims of the dictatorship. The unjust detention of more than 400 political prisoners is a continuing human rights violation and a breach of signed rights agreements by the Philippine government. The militarization happening in the countryside throughout the country, in the guise of development operations, continues to terrorize the people and undermine peace efforts by the President and the NDFP. Finally, the death toll in the government’s war on drugs is a shocking picture of impunity and police abuse that cannot be tolerated under any circumstances.
Lately, there have been congressional efforts to revive the death penalty. A general with questionable human rights record has been made Chief of Staff of the AFP. Some Palace officials have sent out a trial balloon on the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. It is with these developments that we call on the people to go out, protest and stand for human rights on December 10. It is with a great sense of urgency that we ask the people to protest.
The Philippine State has been committing these human rights violations under various pretexts; drugs, terrorism, counter-insurgency, peace and development and so on. The abuses are being justified by various pronouncements from President Duterte himself.
The Marcos burial is not a mere legal issue because it is a historical, political and human rights issue. The release of political prisoners is not a matter of leveraging in the peace negotiations but a matter of justice long denied. A government that claims to be democratic can never justify the imprisonment of citizens because of their political beliefs, much more criminalize them by charging and convicting them based on common crimes. The deployment of troops in civilian communities cannot be justified by saying the State has the right to deploy troops wherever it wants. The rising drug-related-killings – whether by police or so-called vigilantes – cannot be justified by Duterte’s “war on drugs”.
The President keeps saying that we cannot build a nation on the bones of dead Filipinos. Yet the bones keep piling up. The death toll keeps rising and there are no indications that the abuses will stop.
We have supported the President’s initiatives in asserting national sovereignty, resuming the peace talks and implementing pro-people reforms. However, we will not countenance and we strongly denounce his stance on many human rights issues.
Our protests on December 10 are addressed directly to him as Chief Executive and Commander in Chief. He has to stop the killings. He has to end the militarization of the countryside. He must release all political prisoners as a matter of justice. He should not aid in the rehabilitation of the Marcos family and pave the way for their return to power.
The President must listen to the people, not the generals, big business, multinational corporations, opportunist politicians, corrupt justices and other vested interests.
Human rights is taking a beating under Duterte and the people say “Enough!” ###