Message to the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines
Quezon City, Philippines
19-21 July 2013
By RENANTE M. GAMARA
EDUARDO O. SARMIENTO
EDUARDO R. SERRANO
at Camp Crame, Quezon City
We, consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH)) and the NDFP join our fellow political prisoners, human rights defenders and advocates, friends and relatives of victims of human rights violations, and other personalities for the defense of human rights in expressing our militant support to the success of the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines which will be held on July 19-21 at the Great Eastern Hotel.
We extend our congratulations and thanks to the sponsors (International Coordinating Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, KARAPATAN and the Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights) of this historical gathering that will uphold and defend the human rights of the Filipino people in particular and of mankind in general.
We salute our martyrs who have paid the supreme sacrifice with their lives in the defense of human rights.
We congratulate also the various human rights organizations and other advocates in launching this activity amidst the continuing impunity of the state agents in violating the basic human rights of the Filipino people and the brittle status of peace in this troubled land.
As political prisoners here in Camp Crame, we have witnessed so many human rights violations against political prisoners and other detainees here and other detention centers all over the archipelago. Women detainees are subjected to sexual molestations and other means of harassment in order for them to submit to the caprices of some jail officials.
Muslim detainees also experienced various unjust restrictions and discriminatory policies that are synonymous to penalties or punishments for so-called “terrorists” labeled by US and Philippine Authorities under their “war on terror” campaign. So many Muslim detainees are incarcerated due to mistaken identity fiasco of the government police and military operations. Many more detainees languished in jails and detention centers due to lack of financial resources and right connections that will assist them in defending themselves in courts or in facilitating their early release based on the absence of probable cause or insufficient evidences.
In our particular case as political prisoners, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyer (NUPL) in its press statement last September 14, 2012 for the 5th year of its founding and on the occasion of the 40th year of Martial Law stated: “In concurrent jail visits across the country, NUPL highlighted the plight of political prisoners. In the conduct of its advocacy, NUPL has discovered that the alleged acts of prisoners are political in nature. Only a slim minority of political prisoners have been changed with rebellion. In most cases suspected political offenders are improperly charged with non-bailable ordinary crimes.” Furthermore, the same NUPL statement stressed that: “The NUPL has assessed that most of these (cases) are actually improper, false or fabricated charges that further persecute these detainees, degrade their stature, and mock the basic rules of evidence. This is a travesty of justice on top of the multifarious violations of their rights including torture and harassment.
On the other hand, the majority of the Filipino people especially those coming from the workers and peasants are suffering various human rights violations especially their socio-economic and cultural rights. They are being denied their right to health, housing and education. As expounded by Ex-Chief Justice Reynato Puno in his speech at the general assembly of the NUPL NCR last July 6, 2013, he said: “Filipinos must be able to demand from their government their right to housing, education and health or these socioeconomic rights would remain mere words on paper.” He further stressed: “We all know that a right that has no remedy is not a right at all.” He even cited the President Aquino’s veto of the Magna Carta of the Poor and the bill of the traditional view of socioeconomic rights not being demandable and because of a lack of funding to support the enforcement of these rights.
Against the backdrop of massive demolitions of urban poor communities especially in the metropolis to give way to the proposed Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects of the government that will be established along esteros, ex-CJ Puno cited the experience of South Africa wherein a “South African housing activist who had sought relief before the high court and filed a case against the government after it failed to respond for applications for housing assistance and after it demolished the shacks that Irene Grootboom and her neighbors were occupying. In the end, “the Constitutional Court ruled that the issue raised was justifiable or could be entertained. Thus, “poor people could go to court and ask that their socio-economic rights in this case their right to housing be implemented by the appropriate government officials.
In our country, this will be a long shot target considering the political and economic bias of the justices of the Supreme Court and its lower courts. We can only rely on the militant actions and resistance of the people against these attacks on our democratic rights and freedoms. As stated by the CPP: “Oppression is a necessary concomitant of class exploitation. It is thus in the nature of the monopoly bourgeoisie to carry out attacks on the democratic rights and freedoms of the working class and the rest of the people In order to preserve the system of exploitation.”
We call on all human rights defenders and advocates to rise up the banner in upholding the human rights and raise the demand for “reforms to serve the immediate needs of the people for employment, decent income, better working and living conditions, and the availability of basic social services.”
We must collectively fight for the defense and advance of our human rights – civil, political, social, economic and cultural – for the benefit of the exploited and oppressed people. We must be able to act accordingly as the socio-economic crisis results in political crisis, and the forces and agents of monopoly capitalism malign and try to discredit democratic protest as unlawful rebellion or even as terrorism, and thus justify political repression. We must unite and fight for our human rights and strive to attain a just and lasting peace in our land!
Free all political prisoners!
Advance our struggle for human rights and peace!
Camp Crame, Quezon City
10 July 2013