September 27, 2009 in Baguio City
By HUSTISYA – NL
HUSTISYA. Human rights and peace advocates gathered to extend support to relatives and friends of victims of human rights violations in Northern Luzon under the Arroyo administration. photo courtesy of CEMAT
Baguio City – In their annual organizational gathering, families and relatives of victims of human rights violations, human rights advocates and friends from Northern Luzon reaffirmed their commitment to persevere in the struggle for genuine justice and lasting peace.
Convened last September 21 at the Multi-Purpose Hall of the Maryhurst Seminary in Lucnab, here, the gathering was a contribution of HUSTISYA-NL to the over-all nationwide Human Rights, Justice and Peace campaign in commemoration of the declaration of Martial Law.
The commemoration and gathering was to reiterate their strong unified position that never again shall there be Martial Law, even as they continue to seek justice for their kin and friends who have fallen victims to human rights violations under the Arroyo administration. Members of HUSTISYA-NL reiterated their unity with Martial Law victims who, for 37 years still seek justice.
HUSTISYA-NL Chairperson and BAYAN-Canada Chairperson Dr. Chandu Claver stated in his solidarity message, This month marks the third year of existence of HUSTISYA. For the last three years, HUSTISYA for the northern Philippine regions has evolved to what it is now. It has made its presence felt in the national, as well as in the international Stop the Killings campaigns. Even here in Canada, HUSTISYA-Northern Luzon has often been mentioned in the campaigns against the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, as well as in broader human rights forums.
In solidarity with the gathering of human rights and peace advocates, Bishop Carlito Cenzon of the Diocese of Baguio said, The struggle for Human Rights is a continuing historic struggle and he quoted Edmund Burke, Evil indeed triumphs when good men do nothing.
Legal luminaries and human rights advocates Attys. Rene Cortes, Richard Carino and Mary Ann Bayang shared their experiences and insights in defending victims of human rights violations and have expressed their commitment to continue their advocacy work. The young and enthusiastic Atty. Bayang, promised, I will not stop from hoping that one day, my service as a human rights lawyer will no longer be needed because that will be the time that there is no longer any human rights violation in our society. I hope to live to see that day.
Joana Carino, a human rights activist and a victim of Martial Law gave her testimony that further motivated the participants.
The families and children of victims presented hand made Thank You Cards to the advocates and friends and in their emotionally filled testimonies, even as they shared their current predicament. They said that even in the face of difficulties, they remain steadfast in seeking justice for their loved ones. Two young children of human rights victims courageously spoke on their loss of a parent and friend and the seemingly chaos this has affected the family, yet they have stood by their surviving parent and siblings and try to cope with the daily challenges of life. The children said they hold the beacon of hope for justice and a better life in the future.
A significant lesson shared by Rod Tajon from the Ilocos Human Rights Advocates from their Psycho-Social Processing of orphaned children sponsored by the Children Rehabilitation Center focused on how children of victims are more victimized and what steps are needed to ensure a wholistic approach in processing their traumatic experiences. “We should raise the issue of children’s rights into a political issue because it involves making a stand in working to change the system for the welfare of our children,” Tajon said.
In their three-year report (September 2006 to present) Hustisya-NL, said, On February 2007, when the United Nations Special Rapporteur Prof. Phillip Alston visited the Philippines to further investigate the countryfs human rights situation, a remarkable number of victims, survivors, families, relatives of victims of human rights violations from the Cordillera, Ilocos, Central Luzon, and Cagayan Valley testified. The event provided the opportunity to start HUSTISYA – Northern Luzon.
HUSTISYA-NL is a self-reliant mass organization of surviving human rights victims under the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regime, joined by their relatives and friends. It covers the regions of Cordillera, Ilocos, Cagayan Valley and the province of Pangasinan. It aims to provide an organizational forum and venue for its members to strengthen their ranks in order to continue to seek justice and promote respect for human rights in the midst of the worsening human rights situation particularly in the region.
Mrs Agustina Bangit, widow of the late Marcus Bangit concluded the activity with these parting words, “Itultuloy tayo ti pannakilaban agingga magun-od tayo ti pudno a hustisya” (Let us persevere in struggle till we achieve genuine justice). # nordis.net