Karapatan 4TH Congress: Delegates take up challenge amid rights violations

The two-day 4th Congress of Karapatan concluded on August 15, with close to 150 human rights defenders from the Karapatan chapters, sectoral organizations and other allied organizations in attendance. 

Ka Satur Ocampo, Makabayan Coalition President, the Congress’ keynote speaker, called on the delegates to “continue to persevere and courageously defend the people’s rights as a way of paying tribute to the people’s heroes and martyrs,” especially those from the ranks of Karapatan and its allied organizations. 

Providing the national and the international context were Bayan chairperson Dr. Carol Araullo and Paul Quintos of IBON International, respectively. Both discussed the current economic crisis in the country as well as globally, citing imperialist greed and plunder and military interventionism that cuts across continents, including the Philippines. Both speakers cited intensifying exploitation and oppression of the working people, violating the people’s economic and social rights.  

Prof. Jose Maria Sison, chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) through a video message said the violations of the economic, social and cultural rights are the “the causes of the violations of civil and political rights. The imperialists and their Filipino puppets have no other reason to engage in bloody acts of oppression but to do away with actual and potential resistance to the exploitation of the people,” added Sison. 

Karapatan documented cases of extrajudicial killings, torture, illegal arrests and other rights abuses, with farmers, indigenous peoples, and urban poor as the sectors most inflicted with such violations under the Oplan Bayanihan of Pres. Noynoy Aquino. 

Against this backdrop, Ka Satur outlined the importance of the expanding the ranks of human rights defenders as “the trend of human rights violations under the Aquino government is steadily increasing” and is expected to increase further as Oplan Bayanihan nears its target deadline. Ka Satur recalled that during martial law, the issue of human rights was a cause that mobilized not only the victims and their relatives and friends but also the professionals, the youth and students. This year, Karapatan will lead the commemoration of the 40th year of the imposition of martial law. 
With the theme, Palawakin ang Hanay, Makibaka Para sa Karapatan ng Mamayan! (Expand our ranks, struggle for people’s rights!), the delegates to the 4th Congress  drew up its three-year program and action points specifically directed to expose and fight the Aquino government’s Oplan Bayanihan that has caused numerous human rights violations among the people.  

The Congress also elected a new set of officers and members of the National Executive Committee, for a three-year term: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Chairperson; Bp. Reuel Marigza, Vice-Chairperson; Cristina Palabay, Secretary-General; Jigs Clamor, Deputy Secretary-General; Girlie Padilla, Treasurer. Tita Lubi and Satur Ocampo were also elected to the NEC. 

Meanwhile, Karapatan is set to file a complaint to the Department of Justice, the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Commission on Human Rights against the PNP-Cavite who arbitrarily stopped and held 28 Congress delegates on their way to Manila from Tagaytay where the 4th Karapatan Congress was held. ###