[People] TALKING POINTS on HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATIONER 2011 By Dr. Renato Mabunga

Background:

  • Ever since the decision of Mr. Benigno Simeon Aquino III to run as the 15th president of the Republic of the Philippines, he fails to provide the Filipino people with a concrete human rights agenda.
  • The fact remains that on major occasions, where the president should have drawn a roadmap on how his government would fair on human rights, the whole country is left hanging.
  • All we have heard are promises on specific issues under a paradigm of anti-corruption: “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” (without corruption, there’s no poverty). Its framework of good governance is packaged on this slogan (corruption); alleviating it to be the “end-all” and “be-all” of what has and will become of the Philippines.
  • During the campaign period 2010 the Philippine human rights community had asked all presidential candidates of their human rights agenda. The Aquino camp had only promised in a traditional political fashion to incorporate human rights agenda in its governance.

From the moment Noynoy Aquino started his bid for the presidency until his oath taking into office, The Philippine Online Chronicles has compiled 24 promises from the various sorties Aquino had attended to. These are the following:

1. Expand irrigation development program
2. Probe 2004 vote rigging
3. Scrap GMA’s flagship programs
4. Upgrade army and increase defense spending
5. Closure to extrajudicial killings
6. No favors to allies and supporters
7. Strictly enforce environmental laws
8. Make Freedom of Information (FOI )bill his administration’s priority
9. Streamline government approval processes
10. Adjust government pay scale
11. No to Dictatorship
12. Safer sources of renewable energy
13. Population management via responsible parenthood
14. Charter change only via constitutional convention
15. Create jobs at home, reject overseas employment as development strategy
16. No new or increase in taxes
17. Distribute Hacienda Luisita to Farmers
18. Justice for Massacre Victims
19. Renew peace talks and decades-long insurgencies
20. Investigate Gloria Arroyo
21. Avoid foreign trips
22. A Lean, Graft-free Government
23. A holistic and comprehensive public health care system
24. To Quit Smoking if he wins

  • True enough, in his inaugural speech he warned on the abuse of power by government officials. This signaled his slogan “ang matuwid na daan” (the straight path) with war against corruption as the centerpiece of his administration.

Viewing some of them from the perspective of human rights, one could say at least, there are some possibilities that his administration would champion human rights as a guidepost of his anti-corruption slogan. Especially, if we take to heart his pronouncements during his inaugural address:

1. Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.’ Ito ang mga prinsipyong tinatayuan at nagsisilbing batayan ng ating administrasyon. (If there are no corrupt, there are no empoverished prople. This is the principle and basis of my administration.)

2. de-kalidad na edukasyon, kabilang ang edukasyong bokasyonal para makapaghanap ng marangal na trabaho ang hindi makapag-kolehiyo; (Quality education, including vocational courses in aid of searching for dignified work for those unable to pursue higher/college education.)

3. serbisyong pangkalusugan tulad ng PhilHealth para sa lahat sa loob ng tatlong taon; (Health services like PhilHealth for all in three year time.)

4. Tirahan sa loob ng mga ligtas na komunidad. (Housing in safer communities.)

5. Kung dati ay may fertilizer scam, ngayon ay may kalinga nang tunay para sa mga magsasaka. Tutulungan natin sila sa irigasyon, extension services, at sa pagbenta ng kanilang produkto sa pinakamataas na presyong maaari. (While there was fertilizer scam before, now genuine services for all peasants.  Let’s help by providing them irrigation, extension services, and capabilities to sell their products to much higher possible prices.)

6. There can be no reconciliation without justice. Sa paglimot ng pagkakasala,sinisigurado mong mauulit muli ang mga pagkakasalang ito. (By simply forgetting the past wrongs doings, they are surely be repeated again.)

7. We are committed to a peaceful and just settlement of conflicts, inclusive of the interests of all – may they be Lumads, Bangsamoro or Christian.

8. We shall defeat the enemy by wielding the tools of justice, social reform and equitable governance leading to a better life.

However, to compare these to his 10-point governance agenda (campaign platform), one can deduce them as mere band-aids to temporarily stop the bleeding of resources both human and natural.  Below are some broad strokes in his agenda which are Human Rights related:

Job creation – more on skill development thru TESDA and infrastructure building.

Mindanao – resumption of peace talks; Internal Refugees.

Reforms in the Judiciary – more on administrative/personnel build-up rather than incorporation of human rights frame into the current criminal justice system.

Education – for competitive advantage; infrastructure.

Health – philhealth for everyone; infrastructure.

Housing – in-city/on-site relocation. o Agrarian reform – irrigation; infrastructure.

All of these are packaged under anti-corruption campaign for social services which pre-supposes that internal systems within government departments are alright and policy-guidelines are adequate. It is no wonder that in his SONA ng “matuwid na daan”, there is:

NO POLICY STATEMENT ON HUMAN RIGHTS
No statement on the Human Security Act
No statement of legislations pending during the 14th congress on Extra-Judicial Killings, Enforced Disappearance, the Right to Information Bill, etc…
NO “MARCHING ORDERS” ON CURRENT HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERNS AND ISSUES
One liner on Extra-Judicial Killings during the post Arroyo administration and none on the EJKs during the previous administrations.
Nothing on enforced disappearances
NO CLEAR POLICY STATEMENT ON INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS INSTRUMENTS, PROTOCOLS OR MECHANISMS THAT REMAIN PENDING
NOT A SINGLE WORD ON AGRARIAN REFORM OR SOCIAL JUSTICE

Where are we now in 2011(HR perspective): Read full article @ FREE ZONE

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