Renewing Our Heroes’ Struggle for Dignity
General Campaigns
Sunday, 29 November 2009 14:35

The champions of the Philippine Revolution against colonization rose up in arms not just to fight for freedom and independence but also for lands, decent jobs, livelihood, right to education, and, essentially, the right to live humanely.

It was an uprising for rights, a cry for dignity.

Today, even as we proudly remember our heroes and their valiant deeds, we are still hounded by issues and atrocities that undermine human rights and attack the very fiber of our beings as individuals, as communities, and as a nation.

The barbaric “Maguindanao Massacre” that claimed the lives of more than 50 journalists, lawyers, and civilians is the latest and the most shocking display of impunity that reigns in the country. This is a ‘clumsy’ and extreme form of warning from the powers that be, that lives are dispensable and could be toyed with especially when so much is at stake.

Another affront to our integrity are poverty and lack of basic social services such as health, education, housing, and social security. These may not be as gruesome as killings and torture but these are ‘silent killers.’ Imagine how many babies, mothers and children are dying every minute due to inadequate health facilities and personnel; and due to lack of medicine and food.

How many young dreams also die every year because children could not be sent to school or forced to stop schooling because they have to work and augment the family’s income?

In the time of our forefathers, they battled a foreign foe but now, ironically, the enemy is the government, the Arroyo administration that has adopted policies and practices that trigger violation of people’s rights.

The GMA regime’s aggressive push for large-scale mining has jeopardized the right to self-determination and right to ancestral domain of indigenous Filipinos and marginalized communities ‘cursed’ with mineral deposits. Large scale mining also poses great hazards to the environment, water sources, to the livelihood of farmers and fisherfolks, and to the health and safety of affected residents.

In labor, the inability of the government to provide relief from the effects of lay-offs that came with the global financial crisis has worsen the suffering of our workers already burdened with insufficient wage and irregular practices of contractualization and sub-contracting.

These very same workers who are being laid off and have to look for jobs every six months also comprise a large bulk of informal settlers in urban areas that are being forcibly evicted from their shanties without due process as prescribed by the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA).

Meanwhile, the agrarian question or the right to land of farmers, one of the rallying cries of the Katipuneros remains unfulfilled to this day. The agrarian reform program remains incomplete because more than a million hectares of land are still undistributed and the farmer-beneficiaries
do not receive sufficient support in terms of infrastructure, financing, subsidies, and trainings.

The list of human rights violations of the current government could go on and on but these are enough to conclude that Arroyo and her cohorts have no genuine regard for the dignity of its people. Its only interest lies in preserving its rule and avoid accountability for its numerious transgressions.

Events have also proven that just like the politicians in Maguindanao, GMA and her allies would not hesitate to sacrifice lives and limbs just to perpetuate itself to power.

In the time of our heroes, their greatest challenge was to drive away the ‘evil colonizers.’ Now, as human rights defenders, we are being called upon to remove obstacles to the preservation and upliftment of our peoples’ dignity, including the ones entrenched in Malacañang.

Ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights (OP ICESCR) Now!!!

November 30, 2009

Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC)
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
Philippine NGO-PO Network for ESC Rights
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)

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Last Updated on Sunday, 29 November 2009 14:40

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