[Event] PAHRA launches at Mendiola and other areas in the country today a week-long series of nationally coordinated peoples community actions

PAHRA launches at Mendiola and other areas in the country today a week-long series of nationally coordinated peoples community actions

Members of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) launch a week-long series of Nationally Coordinated public protest actions on July 19, 2021, at Mendiola. The series of protests of various forms will be undertaken daily leading up to the 6th and final State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte on July 26.

In conjunction with having had resisted the implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 since its enactment a year ago, members of the Alliance also held today, simultaneous community actions in different forms in Cavite, Cebu, Negros, Misamis Occ., Lanao Norte, Dipolog, Pagadian and Cotabato.

“The Anti-Terror Law is an illustration of how the current government uses the law as an instrument of repression and how dissent and opposition are criminalized. As we mark its first anniversary, we urge everyone to join us in calling for its immediate repeal,” said Dr. Nymia Pimentel-Simbulan, Executive Director of Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights).

“The ATA prolongs detention of suspects to a maximum of 24 days without judicial warrant – eight times the current maximum period under the 1987 Constitution – even as it authorizes an inordinately long period of surveillance. These make for conditions that are highly conducive to the commission of enforced disappearances” emphasized Nilda Sevilla, Co-Chairperson of The Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND).

In the National Capital Region (NCR), the protesters assembled at 10 in the morning at Espanya and proceeded to march to Mendiola for a short program.

“Today. Basic Sectoral Formations lay bare the utter dereliction of Duterte’s duties and take action to frustrate and end his brand of tyrannical and inhumane rule. Ending Duterte’s rule is not about the end of his term but preventing his anti-right to life and anti-human rights and anti-human needs governance project from enduring. This death governance project, his chosen successor will undoubtedly continue to pursue. The people’s struggle is now all about our basic survival as a people in the years to come,” Budit Carlos, Secretary-General of PAHRA said in a statement.

According to Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, the Secretary-General of SANLAKAS, “Duterte’s Terror Law advances the government’s agenda to silence dissent at a time when there is growing discontent among basic sectors due to worsening poverty and inequality while those in power rule with impunity,”

The Mendiola mobilization is composed of PAHRA member organizations coming from the basic sectors, including religious, women, workers, youth, and urban poor groups.

“The terror law exemplifies how the fascist in Malacanang is weaponizing the law to crush protest and resistance. One year after its enactment, the Terror Law has been used to terrorize citizens, worse, designating progressives and critics as terrorists. It is as if the bloody war on drugs, scuttled pandemic response, and rapidly deteriorating quality of life were not enough,

“It begs the question, who is the real terrorist here?” Pedrosa added.

Fr. Christian Buenafe, O.Carm, Co-Executive Secretary of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) and Chairperson of Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) said that “In the light of faith, we cannot in conscience accede to a law that may assault human dignity and human rights. Stand your ground and be with the poor and downtrodden.”

“The ATL is an expanded state instrument that is so wide it can cover everything that the state, or a regime, in particular, may consider its enemies. It is the most dangerous piece of legislation in recent history,” Judy Miranda, Secretary-General of Partido Mangagawa (PM) lamented.

“For six years, the Duterte regime has weaponized laws and policies against the Filipino people. From targeting poor people under the guise of war against drugs to assault on human rights defenders. As we come close to the end of his term, we must not let this government escape accountability. Hold them responsible for all the loss of lives and livelihood. And ensure that we will be able to place real representatives of the people in power, and create a government which will uphold the Constitution, protect our sovereignty and enforce a rights-based governance towards the realization of human rights and dignity for all,” Judy Pasimio, spokesperson of the In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) said in a statement.

The group also gave their assessment of President Duterte’s leadership and its impact on living conditions in the Philippines congruous with their slogan—Kabuhayan hindi Patayan!, Karapatan Hindi Karahasan!

“Simbulo at manipestasyon ng kapalpakan at kawalan ng plano ng administrasyong Duterte ang Anti-Terror Law. Ginagawa lamang nitong opisyal ang pag-rered-tag, at binibigyan ng kapangyarihan ang Pangulo na pumatay ng kung sino na lang ang mamalasing mapag-iinitan nito. Ang Pangulong Duterte ang #1 na terorista ng Pilipinas.

“Walang New Normal hangga’t batas pa rin ang Terror Law. Walang pagbangon ng bayan hangga’t hindi ito naipapawalang-bisa. At walang tututol sa krimeng ito kundi ang sambayanan mismo,” stated John Lazaro, Spokesperson of the youth organization Spark in Filipino.

According to PAHRA, under this administration, the deprivation of basic services, opportunities, and equitable distribution of wealth by Duterte and a privileged few have become extraordinary vis-à-vis previous leaderships. “Duterte’s despotic rule method enforces and enables this oppressive and exploitative setup that benefits the Philippine elite and keeps the vast majority living under the most brutalizing conditions. The Duterte administration’s socio-economic program is a recipe for inequality.”

“The policies favor profit over human needs and interests of the corporations and banks who control the economy, natural resources, and the environment over a way out of poverty for Filipinos. His promise to end contractualization proved only to be a ruse and has resulted in labor sufferings. Indigenous Peoples communities continue to be ravaged by large-scale infrastructure and extractive industry projects and other forms of development aggression.

“This administration miserably failed for it does not have any good intent to serve the Filipino people and on the contrary, has ill and self-serving purposes. Our message as a group today and in the coming days leading to the July 26 SONA is that there is HOPE- hope that there is a way out through concrete, pro-people, and pro-human rights and human needs alternative platforms of government. Our way forward as a people is to push back on the closure of civic space. Together, rights defenders and the citizenry should function as the genuine critical opposition able to offer the said alternative people-centered and human rights-based platforms for governance that will end Duterte rule, reverse the death milieu he has sown and replace this with governance that puts human dignity above all,” the group concluded.

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