When “Demons” Meet at Lent
When the president joked (?), “shot her in the vagina,” did you know that the genitals of women victims of Maguindanao Massacre were shot and slashed? This is what I’ve learned from Commissioner Karen Dumpit of Commission of Human Rights (CHR) speaking before the delegates of the 18th National Convention of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) at Arnold Janssen Spirituality Center in BF Homes, Quezon City last February 22-24, 2018.
Being a former worker of TFDP in Southern Tagalog way back in the early 90’s as its human rights education regional program coordinator, I was chosen as one of the delegates to said convention. So, I took leave of absence from work going to the big city. Ms. Dumpit, by the way, is the same lady commissioner who once said in an interview that there is no need to “get into the quagmire of ridiculing other people just to make a point.”
As I have posted in my Facebook account, we gathered in this turbulent time when humane treatment to the poor and the drug addicts are considered treachery to the republic. The present government and the fanatics of the sitting president treated the human rights advocates in the same footing with the drug addicts, the terrorists and the criminals. They are considered as obstacles to whatever the former Davao City mayor wants to come about.
Long before he joked (?) to, “shoot her in the vagina,” he first encouraged the police to attack human rights groups and advocates like those gathered at Arnold Janssen Spirituality Center that day, by saying, “If they are obstructing justice, you shoot them.” Indeed, there is also a war waged against the human rights defenders. His fanatics, his blood-thirsty on-line warriors or trolls, believe that both the drug dependents and the human rights (HR) defenders are worthy of brutal eradication. To them, we are not just “destabilizers” but “demons” coddling the drug addicts and criminals. Sadly, HR concepts and HR defenders are demonized today more than ever.
“Duterte is just a continuum of Marcos,” says Ellecer Carlos of In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND). Duterte effectively “demonized” human rights but under the present regime, change solely rested on violent peace and order framework while the president’s economic program is only continued from his predecessors. It is more accentuated on the market growth than human needs. The choking-choking TRAIN is just an example!
As emphasized by Ms. Bembet Madrid, Program Coordinator of Fastenopfer/Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund, TFDP is an activists’ organization already embedded in the Philippine social system. Established in 1974 by the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philipines or AMRSP, it joined hands with victims of human rights violations and their relatives, workers, students, and other church-people, peasants and other democratic forces in the country in the struggles for human rights and democracy during the dark years of Marcos’ Martial Law and onwards. TFDP existed past over 7 Philippine presidents already, from Marcos the idol, to his avid fan Duterte. TFDP, according to Ms. Madrid, continue to remain relevant by being firmly rooted to the signs of times and grounded on social realities.
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