Or is it rather the right to remain human? While this observation is written, the country has just heard the President’s State of the Nation Address and the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance is in the middle of its general assembly.
The freedom of expression is in practice so well as the Filipino makes critique or praise of famous peoples public statements, where they share their best spun cliché, puns, debate, reason, sycophancy (sipsip) notes via media, barbershop talk, salon gossip bars, over coffee and text messages. It is all over the media, there is nothing like showbiz, however mediocre it may be, and PNoy’s SONA is the public’s favorite material now like last year’s Miss Philippines’ “major-major.”
While it is true that his state of the nation speech can not contain all the issues the Filipinos presently face in a country that is internationally known to have a very low regard for human rights, it is notable that the SONA did not touch on the state of human rights and even mentioned extra-judicial killings in the same category as “tax evasion, drug trafficking, human trafficking, smuggling, graft and corruption…” Though it is as intense a crime against the people, extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, and illegal arrests are again on the rise even at this period when the President made his report to the nation.
Here in northern Luzon reports like: the recent arrest of a grandmother and former activist on charges of rebellion from an old case that named suspects as Jane and John Does, and on the strength of a warrant of arrest “issued by retired Judge Melanio Rojas last June 28, 2007 and later on by Judge Sixto Diompoc last February 19, 2010 after the case was archived”.
Also, this month is another report of an Aggay in Zinundungan Valley abducted before his wife, after both were roughed up, while they were clearing their swidden farm. He was last seen bleeding, blind folded and bound in the custody of some ten military officers. Relatives and neighbors found him bruised and scared in the local provincial jail with four other suspected human rights victims.
In Mt. Province, as if to challenge the community, soldiers forcibly entered the home of an 87 year old man because his son is said to be the spokesperson of the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front.
To this time the executive director of a 30 year old non-government health program, popular in the Cordillera for its community health trainings and medical services to almost all the villages is without abate surveiled and threatened even by text messages from suspected government security elements.
In universities recently, the government required national service training program (including LTS, ROTC, CWTS) in colleges an intelligence officer who claims to be a university professor and posing as a former member of the New People’s Army, takes advantage to lecture freshmen students on peace and security by branding legitimate civilian organizations, progressive partylists and militant student groups, and individuals as communists.
These are concrete examples on the ground of actual human rights violations that is systematically and casually done by state elements with impunity. Villifying, red baiting, falsely labelling, rumor mongering, misinformation, and physically attacking known civilian citizens. These examples may seem to be an insignificant number on this single page yet by the count done by local and visiting international human rights defenders and organizations all over the country, these are not isolated and for the past decade or so this number continues to list our country somewhere among the international human rights violators.
A single paragraph in our President’s SONA to recognize and condemn the violations of the Filipinos’ individual and collective human rights could have made a difference, even if it was only to push all those hanging court decisions and issuances like the writ of habeas corpus, writ of amparo, writ of habeas data, etc. and make the wheels of justice turn a tiny bit faster. Without his asking, his people could have given him an honest to goodness, “haay salamat po!” # nordis.net