STATEMENTS | The climate of fear and impunity creeping in Ifugao


The human rights situation in Ifugao continues to worsen. The State’s internal security operation dubbed as “oplan kapayapaan” which literally means to bring peace is divorced from the reality in Ifugao. Instead, the climate of fear and impunity is creeping throughout the province causing a chilling effect on our democratic and free society. Intense military combat operations continue in rural communities and at the same time, there is continued vilification and black propaganda against indigenous people activists and advocates, leaders and organizers of peoples organizations.

The case of Ricardo Mayumi, who was gunned down on March 2, 2018 which is related to his being an environmental and indigenous peoples rights activist remains unresolved. Like the unresolved killing of William Bugatti, the State fears human rights and indigenous people’s rights defenders because they are a threat to the tyrannical rule of the current administration.

The 54th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army boasted about their surrender campaign where they claim that dozens of NPAs surrendered to them. However, the so called “surrenderees” are actually local farmers including some elected Barangay Officials which were forced to surrender out of fear. This climate of fear is preventing the local farmers from the right to organize and assemble themselves to collectively exercise their right to find solutions to their underprivileged condition and advance their general welfare.

The Ifugao people’s economic and social rights are worsening as well. TRAIN law has caused inflation and higher cost of living therefore creating conditions for food insecurity and worsening of quality of life. The right to health has also been ignored as the Ifugao General Hospital continued to languish for more than 8 years under construction while the poor continue to suffer and die. Right to Education is just free in name but in reality, students are still paying for many fees out of pocket. Those organizing and protesting the worsening state of Ifugao are threatened or silenced.

As we commemorate the International Human Rights Day this December 10, we call on the peace loving people of Ifugao to join the calls of peace and join us as advocates of human rights. Given the national context of tyrannical rule, this is a difficult time for human rights movement. Even the phrase human rights are being demonized. However, it is our duty to protect it if we love our country and our people.

The vilification and red-tagging does not bring peace, nor does denial of social services. We believe that by addressing the roots to armed conflict we can live in peace. Therefore, we continue to echo the call for the resumption of the formal peace negotiations between the Government of the republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). #


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