Human rights-centered development needed, says advocate

This was asserted by Sr. Cres Lucero, head of Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), during the Fourth Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement in this town.


She said they have documented 813 cases of human rights violations that affect thousands of individuals, families and communities. The cases involve arrest and detention, torture, harassment, extra judicial execution, frustrated extra judicial execution, massacre, frustrated massacre, casualties due to crossfire, disappearance, violent dispersal of protest, forced/faked surrender, destruction of property, forced evacuation, illegal demolition, and violation of the right to housing.


Research conducted by TFDP showed that there are 239 persons who are victims of summary torture from Jan. 23, 2001 to Dec. 5, 2006. As of Dec. 6, 2006, there are 233 political prisoners, which include minors, elderly, women, and the sickly.


She said, too, that there were 926 documented extra-judicial killings from Jan. 23, 2001 to Dec. 7, 2006.


“In Mindanao, from January 2006 to present, TFDP was able to document 14 cases of arbitrary arrest and detention which affected 20 individuals. There are almost 80 political prisoners and detainees locked in 26 detention centers in Mindanao, of which more than half are Muslims and majority are charged with heinous crimes instead of rebellion,” she further said.


Other human rights cases from Jan. 1, 2003 to Dec. 7, 2006 involving Moro victims include 95 persons detained, 80 tortured, 50 families harassed, and 43 executed, and 12 disappeared.


The TFDP also reported that Mindanao remains to have most cases of torture. Since January 2006, TFDP has documented six cases of torture involving 11 victims, bringing the total cases of torture documented since 2001 to 57 and the number of victims in Mindanao to 127.


“Despite the resistance against large-scale mining in the ancestral domain of the indigenous peoples and on the communities’ source of subsistence, the onslaught of mining remains unabated, threatening more communities in Zamboanga peninsula and in other parts of Mindanao,” Lucero cited.


She added that while the Philippines is a signatory of international covenants that protect rights, “redress and justice for victims are slow-paced.”


“There is also no law against torture and enforced disappearance, Lucero noted.


“Based on the World Food Program, 17 million Filipinos, or more than 1 in 5, are undernourished,” she said.


Lucero urged human rights advocates to assert “our common humanity, our dignity and rights.”


She encouraged everyone to conduct massive human rights and peace education and trainings in a rights-centered approach and equip paralegals with documentation and monitoring skills.