Reference: Louie Sawi, Mass Campaigns Chair, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), firstname.lastname@example.org
NYCHRP Demands Human Rights Protection for All Human Lives at 2018 People’s SONA rally in New York City
Human lives cannot survive without having concern for their human rights. Since Duterte took office, he has failed to ensure the safety and well-being of the Filipino people.
After he launched his “war on drugs,” over 20,000, poor urban dwellers, including children, have been murdered by the hands of the Philippine National Police and its agents. According to an investigation by Human Rights Watch, police planted guns, used ammunition, and drug packets on victims’ bodies to incriminate them in drug activities. Masked gunmen participating in the killings appeared to be collaborating with with police, refuting government claims that most killings have been committed by vigilantes or rival drug gangs.
Opposition to Duterte’s War on Drugs in the Philippines has led to the imprisonment of 509 political dissidents, critics, and human rights defenders. Even faith based leaders, organizers, and international peacekeepers are not immune to Duterte’s atrocious policies. A month ago, Methodist Church Missionaries Tawanda Chandiwana, Miracle Osman, and Adam Shaw were detained and interrogated by the police while participating in an international peace mission. After 27 years of missionary work in the Philippines, Australian nun Sister Patricia Fox was ordered by the Bureau of Immigration for deportation. Fathers Rey Urmeneta, Mark Ventura, and Marcelito Paez were murdered for speaking out against Duterte’s extrajudicial killings.
Duterte’s amped up anti-people campaign has recently veered to the absurd. The government’s newest policy, Oplan Tambay, demonizes marginalized youth and criminalizes those hanging out in their neighborhood. It has led to more than 50,000 accosted, arrested and detained in city jails. For example, on June 29, urban poor activist Nicolas Minguito was arrested in Olango Island for eating halo-halo outside his house.
Martial Law in Mindanao continues to violate the human rights of its community members. Seven days ago, 1,607 Lumad members from the region of Surigao del Sur, Caraga were displaced from their ancestral lands after a series of abuses inflicted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. After over a year of its implementation, Karapatan, a national human rights organization led directly by impacted people in the Philippines, documented that Martial Law has led to 49 extrajudicial killings; 9,738 threats, harassment, or intimidation; 336,124 indiscriminate firing and bombings, 404,654 forced evacuations; and 979 forced surrenders in the region.
People have the right to be free from these civil and political rights violations, but are also enshrined with the right to stand up against oppressive governments and systems. The people that President Duterte is repressing are folks that are fighting fundamentally to assert their basic social and economic rights. Basic labor rights are being violated as Philippine local companies Sumifru, Shin Shun, and Coca-Cola harass their workers through union-busting, terrorist tagging, and employing state security forces to violently break-up their peaceful protests for safer working conditions and access to affordable health care.
The government’s policy of contractualization offers no income stability for temporary work. It’s inhumane for companies like Jollibee, NutriAsia, and DOLE to terminate the service of the workers after only a year or a few months on the job. The scarcity of white and blue collar jobs in the city force some community members to seek work in these call centers and export processing zones for multinational corporations, where they labor overtime with little sleep and little pay. Approval of a recent fare hike by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board won’t be enough to help workers afford to pay rent, feed their children, or send them to school, especially as the costs of basic goods and services – such as food, transportation, electricity, and water – increase due to rising inflation. Raising wages can improve workers’ lives; however, the government has failed to pass national minimum wage bills such as House Bill 7787 and other proposed legislation that increases the wages.
With the recent appointment of former President Gloria Arroyo into the Speaker of the House position, we know Duterte does not care for the interests of the people. That is why, we must fight. We must support our kababayans back home, in every way we can, to oust Duterte and his entire government out of office. We must replace that with National industrialization, genuine land reform, sovereignty and non-interference from oppressive/western powers like the US, and elect a government that supports scientific understanding of people’s conditions in order to uphold the rights of women, indigenous people, and national minorities.
More importantly, we must do our part, living in the belly of the beast, to stop the US from supporting the human rights abuses and fascism of the Duterte regime.