Country’s HRV record gets worse – CHRA

BAGUIO CITY — After 60 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the Philippines remains to be a failure in upholding the basic rights of the Filipino people as disclosed by the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) during the commemoration of the International Human Rights Day here Wednesday.

PROTEST ACTION. As part of the commemoration of the International Human Rights Day, militants and families of missing activist James Moy Balao protest in front of Camp Allen in Baguio City where Balao was reported to have been taken before he was transferred to another safe-house. Photo by Cye Reyes

According to the CHRA statement, the Philippines under the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, holds the worst record of human rights violations, worse than that of the 20 years of dictatorship of President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

“The rights to life, liberty, security, self-determination and the right to develop are far from being fully realize,” said the statement.

Since the presidency of Arroyo in 2001, there have been 977 extra-judicial killings (EJKs), 201 enforced disappearances (EDs), 1,010 cases of torture, 1,464 illegal arrests and 868,096 victims of displacement due to militarization.

For this year alone, there were 50 EJKs, four cases of which were from Abra and Kalinga where the victims were civilian farmers and hunters mistakenly identified by the military as members of the New People’s Army (NPA), said the statement.

Militarization according to CHRA has heightened in the region due to development projects of the government particularly mining, and has resulted to bombings, shelling, illegal searches and seizures, divestment of properties, harassments, threats and intimidations.

“More communities in the region have reported that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been using their schools, medical, religious and other public places for military purposes,” said the statement.

In urban centers, activists are not spared by what they call “state terrorism” as they too are made victims to the “lack of tolerance by city-based police for protest rallies and mobilizations and an increase in surveillance and harassment of members and leaders of progressive people’s organizations.”

According to the 32-page report by Karapatan, a human rights network in the Philippines, “the Arroyo government has not lived up to the promise of respecting the dignity and fulfilling the human rights of Filipinos…and the government has instead unleashed the brutality of its armed forces against the very people whose lives it has sworn to protect.”

Similarly, journalists are exposed to the same degree of intimidation as they cover human rights abuses. They become vulnerable to surveillance and even risk their limbs in the line of duty. This year the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) reported seven journalists killed. Since 1986, there are 98 reported medial killings, making the country the most dangerous place to practice journalism. Since 2001, 47 have been reported kiled.

Meanwhile, some 500 militants marched along the main thoroughfare of Baguio City, Wednesday, to condemn the alleged injustices and human rights violations by the present administration.

The mobilization took an unusual route to Camp Allen, a military camp in the city, and protested in fury against the military specifically for the enforced disappearance of James Balao. It was reported that missing activist Balao has been brought to the said camp before his transfer to another military safe-house.

Like other mobilizations, the militants were not spared of the harassment and intimidation by unidentified intelligence agents in civilian clothes who were spotted taking pictures of the rallyists.

The rally marshals reportedly confronted Jaime Corpuz Abrera and asked that he delete the pictures he took of them from his camera. He admitted he is a member of the Philippine National Police(PNP) Station 7.

According to Jude Baggo, CHRA secretary-general, “We condemn these acts of harassment using agents camouflaging as photo-journalists with their cameras and taking pictures of us during our mobilizations.”

Later that evening during the human rights concert by the protesters at the People’s Park, around 15 uniformed police forces headed by a certain Inspector Gabion, with truncheons and sticks were stationed at the park.

When asked by this reporter if they were there because of the protesters, one hesitantly replied, “No. We are here for the peace and order in this area.” Gabion was no where in sight for an interview. # Cye Reyes(NorDis)


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