UDHR75 in the Philippines: HR Day 2023 to be marked with calls vs rights violations and imperialist war of aggression

Photo by Mark Saludes/AlterMidya

Human rights alliance Karapatan and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) kicks off the ten-day commemoration of International Human Rights Day with a press conference, with victims-survivors of human rights violations and those coming from communities under attack presenting their views on the current human rights situation in the country.

Joining the panel are environmental activists and abduction survivors Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro; Jane Molina Lee of Rise Up for Life and Rights, an organization of families of victims of the anti-drug war; Kit Lacaba of the Free Amanda Echanis Movement to represent families of political prisoners; Hailey Pecayo, young human rights worker from Southern Tagalog; and Cordillera-based indigenous peoples rights activist Funa-ay Claver.

“This year’s commemoration of International Human Rights Day is particularly significant as we also mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR),” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

“It is but fitting to put the spotlight on the current dismal human rights situation in the country vis a vis international human rights norms,” said Palabay. “We will find that as far as persons and communities in the grassroots are concerned, the human rights situation in the Philippines falls very short of the ideals embodied in the UDHR.”

According to Palabay, aside from the prevalence of state-sponsored extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, illegal arrests and detention, of particular concern are the growing violations of International Humanitarian Law.

“Civilians are being increasingly targeted in the course of counter-insurgency operations through indiscriminate aerial bombings and artillery attacks, wreaking havoc on their lives and livelihood,” said Palabay.

“In the cities,” added Palabay, “draconian anti-terrorism laws are intensively being weaponized against activists and other dissenters. Victims are red-tagged, threatened and harassed and subjected to worse forms of human rights violations, effectively shrinking the civic space.”

According to Palabay, this year’s Human Rights Day is “a time to keep vigil, and amplify calls for justice for the victims of rights violations in the Philippines, including the pending investigation of the International Criminal Court on Rodrigo Duterte.”

Palabay also stressed that issues of attacks on people’s rights need to be highlighted and addressed beyond the commemoration, amidst the announcement of the resumption of formal peace talks between the government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

In a previous statement, Karapatan has stated that efforts to resume formal peace talks should be geared towards “addressing the following issues which are compelling especially in the light of the previously signed CARHRIHL and the current dismal human rights situation in the Philippines.”

According to Karapatan, this year’s International Human Rights Day bears more weight and meaning in the midst of the global situation, and the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people.

“We want to take this opportunity to express solidarity with the Palestinian people, who like Filipinos, have been suffering the same violations resulting from the genocidal attacks of the US and Israeli governments,” said Palabay.