On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, we commend the Filipino people’s militant struggle for freedom and democracy and their international solidarity for defending and asserting human rights. This struggle has become more important and necessary with the worsening human rights violations and continuing impunity under the administration of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.

Nothing has changed under Aquino.  Social injustice persists.  Civil and political rights are under attack. The Aquino government legitimizes continuing state violence and repression, absconding its responsibility to release the Morong 43 and all political detainees.

Ironically, Aquino has called for the release of Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung Sun Suu Kyi.  He has granted amnesty to hundreds of soldiers who have engaged in at least three attempts of mutiny.  But he remains intransigent in freeing the 43 illegally searched, arrested, detained and tortured health workers and the rest of at least 374 political prisoners in his own country.

The “war on terror” launched by the past regime is being continued by Aquino with the US government’s full  financial, political and military support under a “new” counter-insurgency strategy. Trumped-up charges filed by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against leaders, organizers and members of progressive organizations are becoming the norm and are utilized to conduct actual raids of offices and arrests.  Harassments and surveillance of human rights defenders are intensifying under this new administration that is supposed to be determined to take the matuwid na landas (straight or righteous path)

There were 18 victims killed during the last six months of Macapagal-Arroyo.  There are now at least 25 victims of extra-judicial killings (EJK’s) barely five months after Aquino took over (July 1 – November 30, 2010).

No amount of redefining to “de-politicize” the extrajudicial killings could hide the truth that political killings in the Philippines continue.  These have even worsened under Aquino.

Civilians have been killed in the AFP’s version of “crossfires” with New People’s Army (NPA) rebels where there were really none. We grieve for the loss of the country’s top botanist, Leonard Co, his two assistants and other victims of indiscriminate firing justified by the military as “legitimate military operations”.  We shall pursue justice to the end and make the culprits answer for their heinous crimes.

While we laud the latest positive developments in peace negotiations between the government and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), reaching a 20-day holiday truce and tentative schedule of talks early next year, we deem it necessary for Pres. Aquino to be true to his pledge before foreign diplomats and the public of respecting human rights.

Finally, we seek genuine social justice for the overwhelming majority of the Filipino people as we link up in arms with the international community in the struggle for human rights.

On International Human Rights Day, we reiterate our call:

Free the Morong 43 and all political detainees!

Justice to all victims of human rights violations!

Uphold human rights, freedom and democracy! ###