Tag Archives: UCAN news

[From the web] Philippine activists revive Marcos-era rights group -UCAN news

Rights activists in the Philippines have revived an organization comprising families and friends of political prisoners that was formed during the martial law years in the 1970s.

The group Kapatid (sibling) was formed in 1978 as a response to a crackdown on political activists during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

More than 40 years later, during the organization’s relaunch on June 15, activists noted that there were still more than 500 political prisoners languishing in prison.

“Political prisoners are a symbol of unpeace and injustice,” said former senator Wigberto Tanada. “They must be freed,” he said.

He said “the criminalization of political dissent is a carryover from the martial law years.”

“That this policy has survived into the present speaks volumes about the current state of human rights and justice under this administration,” the former legislator added.

Chito Gascon, chairman of the Commission on Human Rights, said the existence of political prisoners is not acceptable in a democratic society.

“This is not appropriate for any society that claims to be free and democratic,” said Gascon. “Those arrested only stood for their freedom and their rights,” he added.

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[In the news] Philippine activists welcome bill to protect rights defenders -UCAN news

Activists in the Philippines have welcomed the passage of a bill in the Lower House of Congress that seeks to prevent human rights violations and abuses being perpetrated against human rights defenders.

The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading on June 3 the Human Rights Defenders Protection Bill, which also imposes sanctions to counter impunity.

The proposed law is based on the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the Model National Law on the Recognition and Protection of Human Rights Defenders drafted by the International Service for Human Rights.

Once signed into law, the bill will see the creation of a Human Rights Defenders Protection Committee to be headed by a member of the Commission on Human Rights and six representatives from civil society groups.

“It is high time that we accord stronger legal protection to those who defend not only their own human rights and fundamental freedoms but those of others as well,” said House member Edcel Lagman, the bill’s principal author.

The legislator expressed hope the bill would also be approved in the Senate.

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[In the news] Pope backs Filipino bishop who received death threats -UCANnews

A bishop who claimed to have received death threats for criticizing the Philippine government’s “total war” on drugs has received a boost from Pope Francis.

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan said his “eyes blurred with tears” when the pontiff told him that he was aware of what he was enduring.

“I want you to know that I know your situation. I know what you are going through. I am praying for you,” the prelate quoted the pope as saying.

Bishop David was in Rome last week with other Filipino prelates for an audience with Pope Francis.

The meeting, which happens every five years, is obligatory for bishops who must visit the “threshold of the apostles” to report on the state of their dioceses or prelatures.

Bishop David said he was surprised when at the end of the meeting the pontiff stopped him and gave him a special blessing.

“I was ready to step out already when he held my arm and said, ‘Wait. Please let me give you a special blessing. I want you to know I am with you as you face trials in your ministry in your diocese,'” Bishop David posted on his Facebook account.

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[From the web] Foster the empowerment of women and children -UCAN news

Foster the empowerment of women and children

There is a rising tide of “people power” in the world today, and it is female power. Women are standing up and speaking out as never before and more people are sitting up and listening to what they have to say. Their message is basic, straightforward and its most important words are: freedom from abuse, equality, justice, education.

Across the world, the #MeToo movement is empowering women and girls to stand up and challenge those who have harassed, abused or exploited them. Women themselves are challenging the historical oppression they endured for so long in submissive docility. They are now speaking out, holding their abusers, mostly men, to account and finding the courage to call them out and bring them to justice.

It takes bravery, too, to shake of the shackles of slavery and walk free. We are in a new age but the real struggle for the rights and equality of women and children lies ahead.

Jenny, a 14-year old girl from a slum in Manila, had very little in this world. The poor are the most vulnerable. She was not well loved at home, feared her strict father and joined a street gang.

The gang introduced Jenny to Juan Gonzales. He appeared to befriend her, gave her money, a cellphone, new clothes and took her to restaurants. He was grooming her and one day he took her to a hotel room and sexually violated her. He warned her not to tell anyone and gave her money. She was confused, shocked and felt guilt and obligated because he paid her.

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[In the news] Cartoonists showcase work on human rights -UCAN news

Cartoonists showcase work on human rights

Image by UCAN news

More than a hundred cartoonists from around the world have gathered in the central Philippine city of Cebu this week to showcase their work.

This year’s exhibition focused on the issue of human rights and how they are being abused or respected in different parts of the world.

Bern Fabro, chairman of the Cebu Lampoon Festival, said the aim of this year’s event is to let the voices of young people to be heard.

“We believe that the advocacy in upholding human rights should start at the grassroots level,” he said.

Included in the exhibit are the works of 41 student cartoonists from Indonesia, Iran, Serbia, Turkey and the Philippines.

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[In the news] Bishop backs anti-coal campaign in central Philippines -UCAN news

Bishop backs anti-coal campaign in central Philippines

A Catholic bishop in the central Philippines has expressed support for a campaign against the building of a coal-fired power plant in Negros Occidental province.

Bishop Gerry Alminaza of San Carlos said local church leaders are giving their full backing for the move, initiated by a youth group.

“As our youth said, we will stand against this because this is about our future,” said the prelate on Ash Wednesday.

The group Youth for Climate Hope staged an anti-coal demonstration outside the provincial capitol building on March 6 as part of activities to observe the Church’s Year of the Youth.

The provincial government has also expressed its commitment to fight global warming by pursuing “clean and renewable energy projects” by opposing the establishment of coal-fired power plants.

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[In the news] More Philippine church leaders, rights workers on ‘red list’ -UCAN news

More Philippine church leaders, rights workers on ‘red list’

The “red-tagging” of church leaders and activists has intensified with priests of the Philippine Independent Church included on a new list of people alleged to have ties with communist rebels.

Aside from the priests, the list also included the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, the Union of Peoples Lawyers, and youth group Kabataan.

The list, containing the names of 19 individuals, including a journalist and his family, was distributed outside the venue of a human rights forum in Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao last week.

“We fear for our lives and liberty knowing that we are on this list,” said Bishop Felixberto Calang of the Philippine Independent Church whose name was also on the list.

The Protestant prelate said the list is part of a series of “smear efforts,” including the painting of graffiti on the walls of churches in some areas of the southern Philippine region of Mindanao.

“When the police and military can just plant evidence against innocent people they claim are ‘enemies of the state,’ that is lawlessness,” said Bishop Calang.

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[In the news] Drug users in Philippine parish get new lease of life -UCANnews

Drug users in Philippine parish get new lease of life

Jonathan Padrones has been hooked on illegal narcotics for years but is trying to “redeem” himself with the help of his parish church, he says.

Padrones, 44, said he first tried hydrochloride, a methamphetamine commonly known by its street name “shabu” in the Philippines, out of curiosity when he was in his 20s.

“I ended up getting hooked,” he said, adding this soon made him “public enemy number one” in his community.

Padrones said he would spend up to US$20 a day buying shabu. Eventually, he began peddling illegal drugs to sustain his addiction.

When President Rodrigo Duterte launched his “war against drugs” in 2016, Padrones was placed on a police watch-list.

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[From the web] The truth revealed -UCAN news

The truth revealed

Now months after, I still wonder if he would have that look whenever he was in possession of one of his victims? Was the rage expressed in the torment his captives had to endure? I shiver and try not to let the tears fall. My son is a disappeared, but I fail.

I heard the testimony of a victim of enforced disappearance who escaped. He summarized his experience in one sentence: “They were like crazed beasts. We were treated like animals.”

The tension was palpable. Conversations in hushed tones. Greetings were made with just a nod. The two mothers were trying their best to stay composed. At one point one mother whispered, “I am perspiring profusely. My blouse is already soaked.”

Then the other mother whispered, “I have butterflies in my stomach. My migraine is acting up.”

I was fondling the rosary beads in my pocket to keep my hands from shaking.

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[From the web] Rights challenges in Southeast Asia -www.ucanews.com

Rights challenges in Southeast Asia.
Political will plus conviction of all can achieve the goal of a free and just society

Renato Mabunga, Manila
Philippines
February 17, 2012

Recent developments in Myanmar have brought to the fore a growing movement in previously isolated countries in Southeast Asia.

These countries have had no choice but to reach out and work together, either voluntarily or involuntarily, because of the emergence of new regional alliances, advances in telecommunications, biotechnology and transportation that has prompted unprecedented demographic shifts.

Countries like the Philippines, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, which all have suffered from extreme poverty and illiteracy, are now starting to talk more openly and loudly about human rights protection, though their performance on this issue still fails to meet  international expectations and the subject is still treated in a selective, if not politicized, manner.

Most of these governments continue to hide behind the cloak of “non-interference in national affairs” when confronted with compliance to international laws. What continues to be generally lacking is the political will and conviction to apply governance based on a rights-based approach.

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