“Human rights are more than legal concepts;
they are the essence of man. They are what makes man human.
That is why they are called human rights:
deny them and you deny man’s humanity.” — Pepe Diokno
CHESTCORE or the Community Health Education, Services and Training in the Cordillera Region decries the dismissal of the Commission on Human Rights – Cordillera Administrative Region (CHR-CAR) of the harassment cases we have filed last March 2011. We have been intimidated and harassed, we have received death threats and our rights have been violated and we submitted our case to the CHR-CAR for the protection of our rights and for appropriate action.
Yet the CHR-CAR did not recognize the merits of our case, treating the documents as papers that must stand in court. And that if these papers don’t, our rights don’t cease to be and our case must be dismissed and archived. This is leaving us with little or no recourse because the Philippine justice system is slow-grinding and favors the moneyed and those in power. This is rubbing salt to the wounds of our individual staff, our institution and most of all, the communities we serve.
CHESTCORE asserts that human rights violations are existing, continuing and escalating. We protest the conduct of military combat operations which violates the rights of the communities to safety and security. It is shocking and deplorable that the CHR-CAR tags certain communities as “red areas”. Our communities have a long history of struggle against militarization and the destructive World Bank Chico dams that would have submerged a significant number of Kalinga and Bontoc communities.
These communities continue to defend their land, this time, against multinational large-scale corporate mining. This wider context of development aggression makes the cases of intimidation, harassment and threats a continuing human rights violation that should have no time prescription for government recognition and action.
That CHESTCORE pinpoints to state security forces as perpetrators of these violations is not without bases. CHESTCORE services the marginalized indigenous people’s organizations. Together with other progressive people’s organizations, CHESTCORE has been tagged as a CPP-NPA-NDFP front. It is continuously being demonized in AFP/PNP propaganda, making it an open target for rights violations. A significant number of these organizations’ leaders and members have been victims and targets of harassment, trumped-up cases, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings. This has been part of counter-insurgency programs in the various Oplans for the region for many years. It took its greatest toll with Oplan Bantay Laya I & II under then Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and now continues with President Benigno Aquino III under Oplan Bayanihan.
We oppose Oplan Bayanihan. It is a deceptive tool meant to sanitize the image of state security forces through their employment in government socio-economic projects. It aims to quell just opposition against development aggression and destructive projects that grab people’s land and resources and endanger peoples’ health.
We demand that the CHR-CAR recognize, uphold and fulfill the human rights of our people with clear bias for the marginalized sectors and communities against violations of the state.
Finally, we call on all community health workers and the Cordillera people to: Assert people’s right to health! Assert our human rights! Stop the Harassment of all Cordillera Health Workers! Stop the militarization of Cordillera Communities!
Expose and oppose Oplan Bayanihan! # nordis.net