DECLARATION of the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines

Quezon City, Philippines
19 – 21 July 2013

We, representatives of people’s organizations (trade unions, women, peasants and rural communities, migrants and refugees, indigenous peoples, urban poor and urban communities, health workers, environmental and peace activists), the academe, faith-based institutions, human rights advocates, defenders, people’s lawyers, and victims from 26 countries gathered for the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines held on July 19-21, 2013, to examine and unite on the pressing challenges to human rights and peace in the Philippines and the world.

Guided by the theme, “Uphold People’s Rights! Work for Peace! Fight for Justice! Build solidarity and resistance with the people of the Philippines and the world”, we analyzed the global and Philippine situation, and reflected on the conditions that allow human rights violations to run rampant, make peace elusive, and exacerbate the social injustices suffered by the people.

We assert that people’s rights encompass the economic, social, cultural, civil, and political dimensions, and involve the people collectively and as individuals. We acknowledge norms in upholding, respecting, and promoting people’s rights embodied in various international instruments and agreements as the fruit of the collective experiences and struggles of the people against discrimination, exploitation and oppression.

However, the imperialists, fascists, and other reactionary forces do not only disregard these norms but also concoct all sorts of dubious justifications to impose or foment aggression and war, including the most unbridled forms of State terrorism against all those who oppose their oppressive and exploitative order, be they nation-states, communities, organizations or individuals. We stand firm in upholding and asserting the rights of nations, peoples and individuals to resist these forces of oppression until we attain the right to determine our own destiny and build a society based on justice and genuine peace.

I. Neoliberal globalization has exacerbated the exploitation and oppression of nations and peoples

The neoliberal policies of liberalization, deregulation, privatization and denationalization imposed worldwide through international multilateral institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) have further aggravated the severe impoverishment, exploitation, displacement, and repression of the people in the most highly-developed, onward to the most underdeveloped. These policies perpetuate and intensify, rather than mitigate, the effects of the global capitalist crisis on the working classes and the rest of the people.

Through neocolonial dictates or outright coercion, aggression, and war, countries are pushed to implement neoliberal policies that open their natural and human resources to plunder, and preclude self-reliant and sustainable economic development responsive to the people’s interests.

Poverty, hunger, disease, and unemployment are out of control. Workers face depressed wages and erosion of labor rights, peasants are driven from their lands, indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination are violated, fisherfolk are losing the riches of the seas, women suffer rampant oppression in all spheres, youth and children are denied their future, urban poor communities are demolished, residents forcibly evicted from their homes, deprived of livelihood, and even the middle class are driven into poverty. Tens of millions have been forced to find work overseas out of desperation to support their families, treated as commodities and modern-day slaves.

The crisis is equally severe even within the capitalist countries. Employment has contracted, and people’s livelihoods have been eroded. Austerity and privatization measures have slashed public spending for essential social services. Neoliberalism has favored corporate profits over social welfare.

Neoliberal globalization paves the way for unjust wars. Either direct or by proxy, imperialists use their strength of arms and superior military technology to subvert the will of sovereign nations as they vie for supremacy and compete for spheres of influence, markets, and dumping grounds of capital.

The most systematic violations of human rights occur in countries where imperialist powers have unleashed wars of aggression and state terrorism. The imperialists and their client-states attack the people, killing even women and children, and commit so many other acts that violate people’s rights.

Our just recourse is to unite, inform ourselves about the ideological and political machinations of the oppressors by availing of the same high technology which are products of the working people in the long march to civilization, and help to arouse, organize and mobilize the people in ever greater numbers in the struggle for national and social liberation against imperialist domination, plunder and war.

II. The Philippine Experience

The current situation of human rights and peace in the semi-colonial, semi-feudal Philippines exemplifies the gravity of the violations of the people’s collective and individual rights resulting from imperialist onslaught.

The Aquino regime’s hype over the country’s so-called economic growth cannot cover up the stark reality of poverty, inequality and underdevelopment. The policy of neoliberal globalization that it and its predecessors have adopted has worsened the agrarian, non-industrial and backward character of the Philippine economy. The policy has meant the continuing sellout of national patrimony and the complete disregard of the people’s welfare.

The Aquino regime imposes its rule by suppressing the patriotic and democratic opposition of the masses through extrajudicial killings, massacres, enforced disappearances, illegal arrests and detention, torture, surveillance, harassment and intimidation of political activists, and displacement and dislocation of communities by militarization. To date, the Aquino regime has claimed 142 victims of extrajudicial killings, 16 enforced disappearances, 540 illegal arrests, 76 cases of torture, 30,678 forced evacuations, 31,417 cases of threats/harassment/ intimidation, and 31,417 cases of the use of schools, medical, religious and other public places for military purposes, on top of the thousands more victims of past regimes who have yet to see justice for themselves and their families.

We condemn the US-designed counterinsurgency plan of the Aquino regime called ‘Oplan Bayanihan’. It is no different from the military operational plans of previous regimes that use both brutality and deception to suppress the just and legitimate aspirations of the people.

We deplore the Aquino regime´s withdrawal from the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). We condemn its use of Oplan Bayanihan as its framework for peace negotiations. This regime, like its predecessors, continue to block the forging of agreements on basic social, economic, and political reforms that address the roots of the armed conflict for achieving a just and lasting peace.

It has not only refused to comply with, but has attempted to undermine, previously signed agreements including The Hague Joint Declaration – the framework agreement in the peace negotiations – the Joint Agreement of on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

We condemn the Aquino regime as a willing tool of US imperialists to further entrench themselves in the Philippines in the pivot or strategic shift to Asia aimed at tightening economic and military dominance and control over the region, through such schemes as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), and over the Philippines, through the so-called Partnership for Growth (PFG).

We condemn the worsening violations of the Filipino people’s rights, and unite in solidarity with the Filipino people in upholding and advancing their individual and collective rights.

III. Plan of Action

We salute the determination of the Filipino people in their struggle for genuine sovereignty and democracy.

We agree to further develop international cooperation to put a stop to state repression that breeds a culture of impunity in the Philippines and elsewhere; to pursue justice for the countless victims of human rights violations in the country and elsewhere; and to build a strong solidarity network for human rights, peace, and justice in the Philippines that supports similar struggles in other countries.

We extend our solidarity to peoples of other countries and nations resisting neoliberal globalization, military expansionism, and aggressive wars pushed by the US, its allies and client-states.

We therefore unite on the following courses of action to further advance the people’s struggle in the Philippines and in the world to uphold the fundamental rights of the people, fight for social justice and against all forms of inequality, and work for genuine peace within countries and in the world.

  1. We shall continue to expose and oppose the state-sponsored terrorism and deception that preserve the exploitative status quo in the Philippines. This includes making the US-Aquino, US-Macapagal-Arroyo, as well as the previous regimes accountable for their crimes against the Filipino people.

  1. We shall campaign, lobby, and support mass actions by Filipino mass organizations and solidarity networks in our respective countries that denounce human rights violations, Oplan Bayanihan, the US-backed Aquino regime, and US military intervention in the Philippines. We call for national and internationally-coordinated actions, including, but not limited to, the following red letter days:

  • August 30 – International Day Against Enforced Disappearances

  • September 21 – Martial Law Commemoration/International Day of Peace

  • December 3 – International Day of Solidarity for Political Prisoners

  • December 10 – International Human Rights Day

  1. We commit to campaign for the resumption of the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP on the basis of mutually acceptable principles, compliance with previously signed agreements, and the objective of forging of agreements on basic social, economic, and political reforms that address the roots of the armed conflict for achieving a just and lasting peace.

  1. We shall campaign and call upon the people in our respective countries to press for resolutions and legislation to stop foreign intervention and aggression in various guises.

  1. We shall take steps to establish broad solidarity formations, and to sustain and consolidate international networks of individuals, groups, and organizations supporting the struggle for human rights and peace in the Philippines, and encourage these to become part of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines.

  1. We commit to organize and hold the 2nd International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines in 2016.

  1. We commit to support the struggle of oppressed nations and peoples for national and social liberation.

  1. We commit to campaign for the release of political prisoners.

Uphold People’s Rights!
Work for Peace!
Fight for Justice!
Build solidarity and resistance with the people of the Philippines and the world!

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