On the 2013 commemoration of International Human Rights Day
The Filipino people commemorate the International Human Rights Day with rage and protests over the morose record of the US- Aquino regime’s gross human rights violations in the past three years.
The events that unfolded during the last half of the year had intensified such anger and discontent. It was not just the human rights victims crying for justice who pour into the streets, but a multitude of disappointed, dissatisfied, distrusting people from all walks of life. People were enraged over the magnitude and impudence of corruption as divulged in the Napoles pork barrel scandal, and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), despite Aquino’s pretense to curb it. People were enraged with the negligence and apathy of the Aquino government over the plight of the victims of disasters, while the whole world were shaken and concerned.
Today, we hold B. S. Aquino accountable for the 152 extrajudicial killings and 168 frustrated killings, 18 enforced disappearances, 358 illegal arrests and detentions on trumped up charges, tortures and other gross human rights violations, in his term, affecting a great number of the peasantry, indigenous people and urban poor dwellers.
His counterinsurgency policy, Oplan Bayanihan, and his promotion of the pervading culture of impunity sanctions all these. The author of Oplan Bayanihan, which is patterned after the U.S. Counterinsurgency Plan, was appointed to head the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Military officials charged for masterminding abduction and tortures are promoted to higher ranks. Masterminds of extrajudicial killing and disappearances are at large; and many were let off the hook by the courts for their crimes. But people will not forget the killings of Fernando Baldomero, the first victim of extrajudicial killing under Aquino Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio, development worker Wilhelm Geertman, leader of typhoon victims Cristina Jose, environmentalist Gerry Ortega, scientist Leonard Co, and tribal leader Jimmy Liguyon. People will not forget the injustice done them and will continue the fight to pursue justice.
We hold Aquino accountable for the deepening poverty and intensifying oppression of the Filipino people. His Public-Private Partnership program has rendered many poor and neglected sectors homeless and all the more deprived of social services. The people are increasingly suffering with the high rate of unemployment and the soaring prices of basic goods and commodities.
We hold Aquino accountable for his gross negligence during disasters, such as that of typhoons Pablo and Yolanda that exacerbated the sufferings and anguish of the victims. While stocks of rice and relief goods rot in government warehouses, people are starving and dying, as he plays the blame game and later goes selfie.
We hold Aquino accountable for the sellout of our national patrimony and sovereignty. Foreign mining corporations and plantations plunder our natural resources, grab ancestral lands and kill. Tribal leader Genesis Ambason and massacred Capion family and many others offered their lives in defense of their land and livelihood.
The frequency of U.S. military exercises in the country and the continuing presence of American troops and war armaments revive the defunct U.S. military bases, which the Filipino people have evicted in the past. The Aquino government is hatching an agreement to legalize their continuing and increased presence in the country. Furthermore, his ultimate and shameless puppetry manifests as he parrots U.S.’s interest and sentiments in world forums.
Aquino’s militarist solution to the Zamboanga crisis and his blunder in handling the Sabah issue have resulted to rights abuses and deaths of many of Moro peoples, as well as the surrender of our legal claim to Sabah.
We hold Aquino accountable for his inaction and inutility. After a long and tedious battle by victims and their relatives for the enactment of the bills on enforced disappearance and martial law victims’ recognition and reparation, Aquino, wanting to impress on his posturing for human rights, finally signed the bills into law. However, his masquerade is uncovered by his inaction to implement the laws. Enforced disappearances still happen with brazenness and impunity boosted by the existence of the Order of Battle that the law has provided against. The Claims Board which will implement the indemnification law has not been constituted by Aquino 10 months after its signing.
Political prisoners, 449 of them, are languishing in jails, while criminals are accorded special treatment or set free. Trumped-up charges against political activists and leaders of people’s organizations are filed to threaten and silence their protests, while criminals in government preen and flaunt their power and wealth. Peace talks are derailed as conflict worsens and the cause of unrest, unaddressed.
We hold Aquino accountable for the pervading and worsening corruption in government that came to full view with the people’s vigilance and grit to expose and fight against it through continuous mass actions. His defense of the pork barrel, especially of his own pork, exposes Aquino’s true stand and interest – the preservation of his rule and the protection of his real bosses, the elite class where he belongs.
The people’s rage against corruption has shaken and drove the rotten system berserk. The bureaucrats fought each other tooth and nail over spoils; the check and balance placed to safeguard the exploitative system has proven to be vulnerable as the system itself is.
Aquino’s bubble of “tuwid na daan” has burst. His so-called spell over the people, stemming from the reputation of his roots, has gone. We believe B.S. Aquino, too, must go. After all, popularity is not a license or a test to truly serve the people. And, the system he is dying to save is moribund and desperately needs a change.
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Building
#1 Maaralin corner Matatag Streets
Central District, Diliman
Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.