By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — “Iti daytoy nga araramiden ti gobyerno, malablabusan tayon iti dayaw. Anya ti rumbeng nga aramiden tayo? Lumaban!” (With the present government actions, we are being stripped of our dignity. What shall we do? Fight!)Organisasyon dagiti Nakurapay nga Umili ti Siudad (Ornus) Secretary General Daisy Bagni posted this challenge to members and leaders of people’s organizations, health workers, church people and human rights defenders and advocates who attended the commemoration of the 64th International Human Rights Day here in Baguio.
Ornus was among the various organizations that joined the Martsa ng Bayan para sa Karapatan, Kapayapaan at Kalayaan, a protest march led by the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) to present “the real state of human rights” in the region on December 10. The march culminated in a program at the People’s Park.
Bagni said that it is sad to note that despite the 64 years after the United Nation’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) to which the Philippines is a signatory, the human rights situation in the country has not improved.
She disclosed that the plight of the urban poor sector continues to deteriorate contrary to government claims of an increase in the country’s economic performance. She added that the lack of decent paying jobs and livelihood opportunities for the urban poor remains.
She added that those who are striving to earn their keep by selling along the city’s main thorough fares and parks in Baguio are faced with the threat of demolition and confiscation of their good on a daily basis.
She explained that the urban poor continue to ply their trade despite the threat of confiscation and demolition because the government fails to provide them alternatives. And apart from the threats of demolition of their stalls, she said, is the threat of the demolition of their houses.
Bagni stressed that the urban poor has long demanded for decent jobs and housing but the government seem to be deaf to their calls. She added that the recent conditional cash transfer (CCT) that the Aquino administration is boasting of is not enough.
“We do not need dole outs. What we need are decent, secure and sustainable sources of livelihood,” she stressed.
Michael Cabangon spokesperson of Anakpawis Cordillera reiterated that the government through its various policies and programs violated rights of the basic sectors of the country that include the farmers and workers. He pointed out that government policies on agriculture and labor favor the interests of large foreign companies over the farmers and workers demands. He added that government policies are crafted to serve the dictates of foreign capital.
He highlighted the present two tiered salary scheme of the present administration saying that it is designed to deceive workers. He explained that the said scheme is unfair because wages will be based on the performance of workers and not on their needs. He also criticized the Aquino government for the increasing number of contractual workers. He added that even college graduates are hired as temporary or per contract workers.
Cabangon further reiterated that workers rights to organize themselves and to defend their rights are also met with violence by the government. He said that union busting continues and so does threats, harassment and even killings of labor leaders continue.
“The two years of PNoy in power has only worsened the sorry state of Filipino workers. There is no other resort but to fight for our right to live decently. Only when there is genuine freedom can poverty and hunger be eradicated,” he said in Iloco.
Community Health Education Services and Trainings in the Cordillera Region (Chestcore) Executive Director Mia Rasalan assailed the government’s seeming disregard of the people’s right to health. She stressed that apart from allocating a meager budget for government health careservices, the present administration is even geared towards the privatization of government hospitals.
In the Cordillera, Rasalan stressed that Baguio folk and the entire region should oppose the proposed privatization of the Baguio General Hospital Medical Center (BGHMC). She pointed out that even at the moment that the BGHMC is not yet privatized the majority of patients could hardly afford hospitalization how much more when gets privatized.
“What we need is an additional health care budget instead of giving priority to debt payments and the military budget,” she said.
Katribu the Indigenous Peoples Partylist Cordillera Spokesperson Samuel Anongos highlighted the plight of indigenous people (IP) who suffer from marginalization, development aggression and militarization. He reiterated that IPs have long been suffering from government neglect thus resulting to lack or absence of social services in their communities. He added that IP communities continue to suffer from foreign backed destructive projects that undermines their right over their territories and resources.
He mentioned large scale mining and energy projects accompanied by militarization worsens the already impoverished state of IPs in the Cordillera. He said that the situation of other IPs in the country is similar to the plight of the Cordilleras. He further pointed out that like the other exploited sectors of society the government answers the IPs protests with violence that include the murder and massacre of IPs.
Anongos stressed that just like the rest of the oppressed the IPs have no other recourse but to continue asserting and fighting for their rights.
CHRA Secretary General Jude Baggo reiterated that the human rights situation under the Aquino administration is as deplorable as that of the previous regime. He stressed that rights violations is not a numbers game.
“One killing, one rape is too many. The number of victims of violations reported or documented is not the issue, the issue here is that human rights violations continue and the government allows it with impunity,” Baggo stressed. # nordis.net