On the eve of human rights day, civil society groups urge President Benigno Aquino III to prosecute rights abuses with the same intensity he had been pursuing alleged wrongdoings of former president and now Pampanga representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
According to Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) Chairperson Max de Mesa, PNoy’s pronouncement that human rights have primacy in his governance has remained much in the rhetorical level.
“Pres. Aquino might be popular now but this will change if he continues to be silent and ineffective in preventing human rights violations such as torture, extra-judicial killings, and illegal demolitions,” de Mesa added. He also stated that as Commander-in-Chief, P’Noy should be firm in going after erring military officials down to the ordinary soldiers.
In its “Hatol ng Bayan” activity yesterday, progressives gave a failing mark to the Aquino government when it comes to human rights protection citing workers’ rights violations, demolitions of urban poor homes, promotion of large-scale mining, and misguided strategy on climate change mitigation.
Meanwhile, labor groups were also not pleased when President Aquino upheld the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) decision to allow the Philippine Airlines (PAL) management to spin-off catering, reservation, and ground handling operations and sub-contract them to service providers.
“When Malacañang gave its blessings to PAL outsourcing, it not only led to the lay off of more than 2,000 PAL workers but also dealt a big blow to Filipino workers’ right to decent jobs,” stated Gerry Rivera, president of PAL Employees Association (PALEA).
Environmental advocates also scored P’Noy for continuing his predecessor’s policy of promoting mining as tool for development and for showing his support to the mining industry when he tagged along 15 mining executives to his official visit to China last August. They claimed that the push for large-scale mining have already and would continue to destroy the environment and violate the rights of affected communities especially indigenous peoples.
“We were shocked at his quick action to allow special military forces to ensure security in mining areas after the bombing incidents in Taganito, Surigao del Norte last October. First, we believe that mining militias will not address the issue at hand. Second, this will actually effect more human rights violations against mining-affected communities,” said, Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Ayansa Tigil Mina (ATM).
Meanwhile, for the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), it is unacceptable for this government to contract loans to finance its climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts because this will only add to the country’s indebtedness. As examples, the group cited the $400 million Electric Trikes project with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the recent World Bank loan of $500 million for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).
“This administration must immediately implement the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) to enable local communities to participate and integrate their interest in these efforts and call for climate justice now,” stated Milo Tanchuling of PMCJ.
De Mesa of PAHRA also added that P’Noy’s ‘Tuwid na Daan’ and the promises of change, of corruption-free and democratic governance were beginning to be meaningless because of continuing human rights violations leading to impunity.
Rose Trajano of PAHRA, 0906-5531792, <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Farah Sevilla of ATM, 0915-3313361, <email@example.com>
Kevin Yu of PMCJ, 0917-5213356, <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- The Most Absurd Human Rights Violations (92): When Hate Speech Laws Go Too Far (filipspagnoli.wordpress.com)