HR violations unabated, enough of Aquino’s promise of change

Thousands of peasants and indigenous peoples from Mindanao and Southern Tagalog, with multi-sectoral support from the National Capital Region, today marched to Mendiola, undaunted by the unabated human rights violations under the Noynoy Aquino government and the ten-day series of grueling activities to culminate on December 10, the International Day for Human Rights.
Karapatan Chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez led the thousand of marchers  in the burning of a 7-foot effigy of a combined mining excavator and artillery tank that symbolizes the twin evils of large-scale mining and intensified military operations in peasant and indigenous people’s communities. “We have likewise set on fire whatever is left of the chances for positive change we gave Pres. Noynoy Aquino in the past two years. He did not only squander the opportunity for change but has also pushed our patience to the limit, what with all the rights violations his regime has committed against the people.”
Karapatan and Bayan, together with Panalipdan! Mindanao, Kalumaran and Bayan-Southern Tagalog, led the protest march.  Panalipdan! Mindanao and Kalumaran, an organization of Lumad or indigenous peoples, led the 74-member delegation from Mindanao; while Bayan-Southern Tagalog led the 2,000 contingent from the region.
Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General, pointed out that among the 129 victims of extrajudicial killings that they have documented, 69 are farmers and 25 are from indigenous peoples. Most of those killed in Mindanao, for instance, are anti-mining activists and Lumad leaders who defend their land and the environment against the intrusion of big foreign mining corporations.
“Aquino’s Executive Order 79 on mining serves as marching orders to the Phil. Army, CAFGU, and paramilitary groups such as the Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary to clear the mining areas of such “hindrances” as a resistant populace. Not only has Aquino spurred large-scale and destructive mining in Mindanao and ensured their continuing protection, his government has also practically dismissed the killing and forced evacuation of IPs and farmers as collateral damage,” Palabay commented.
Among those who joined the march were widows of slain indigenous people’s leaders Gilbert Paborada, Jimmy Liguyon, Rudy Dejos, Ramon Batoy, and anti-mega dam activist Margarito Cabal. Also with them were the family members of anti-mining activist Juvy Capion, who was massacred together with her two children in October. There were also the displaced persons or bakwits from Mindanao and Southern Tagalog.
Hilao Enriquez said, that in the two and a half years of his presidency, Noynoy Aquino, “has not only turned his back on his promise to deliver justice for victims of human rights violations, but he has encouraged rights violations through the promotion of military generals known for abuses through Oplan Bayanihan.”
“Aquino’s lofty words  such as ‘peace and development’ and ‘economic growth’ and his new toy  ‘superbody’  cannot silence the grumblings in the stomach of Filipinos who see through the government’s lies as the quality of their lives continue to deteriorate and they become victims of state violence when they defend and assert their rights,” Enriquez quipped.
“Two years is more than enough. We have had enough of Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s lip service to ‘peace’ and ‘development’.  His ‘daang matuwid’ has ceased to fool us. We condemn the continuing extrajudicial killings and the plunder of our resources that take away our rights, land and lives. We denounce the US-inspired and directed counterinsurgency blueprint Oplan Bayanihan,” added Palabay.
In 2013, the military enters the last year of Oplan Bayanihan’s first phase supposed to decimate the armed threats, which the military has identified, and their so-called supporters or mass base. “We can expect an escalation of terror and state aggression in communities vocal against military atrocities and unabated plunder of the country’s resources.
But OpBay, like OBL, is doomed to fail as the Filipino people remains vigilant, courageous and militant in asserting our democratic rights and sovereignty. We are one in our struggle to frustrate the US-Aquino regime’s Oplan Bayanihan,” Palabay concluded.  ###