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Rally for peace and human rights on Independence Day

opinion / Latest Opinion
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Rally for peace and human rights on Independence Day

/ 12:18 AM June 12, 2017

Former and incumbent legislators, Catholic and Protestant leaders, human rights advocates and concerned citizens are calling on the public to join a “National Day of Prayer and Action for Peace and Human Rights” today, Independence Day.

A big interfaith prayer and rally will be held at the Andres Bonifacio Shrine beside the Manila City Hall from 3:30 to 6 p.m. Similar and related actions are expected to be held simultaneously in other parts of the country.

No to terrorism!
Lift martial law!
Stop aerial bombings of communities!
Stop extrajudicial killings!
Defend human rights!
Pursue the peace talks!

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Today, Philippine Independence Day, we, concerned Filipinos from various faiths, sectors and political affiliations, come together in a day of prayer and action to renew the call for peace and respect for human rights amid the rising tide of terrorism, martial rule and impunity that threatens to rip the nation apart.

In solidarity with the victims of the Marawi siege, we condemn the deliberate acts of terror carried out by the IS-inspired Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups. We call on all people to come to the aid of thousands of internally displaced persons in Lanao del Sur and nearby areas.

Likewise, we gather to show our opposition to martial law in Mindanao and possibly  other parts of the country. We call for an end  to the aerial bombardment of Marawi and  other conflict areas.

As the Marcos dictatorship showed, martial law is not the answer to the complex problems of Mindanao. A regime that trades Filipinos’ human rights for vague, ever-moving law and order goals can only add fuel to armed rebellions and set back efforts to address the roots of the conflict. Martial law will further embolden law enforcers and state-sponsored vigilante and paramilitary groups to commit even more extrajudicial killings and curtail civil and political rights.

In the last year, atrocities have mounted nationwide. Filipinos are right to protest the murder of thousands in the drug war, as well as the extrajudicial killing of suspected rebels, ordinary farmers, indigenous peoples and Moro people in the counterinsurgency war. It is the poor that bear the brunt of these wars. It is the poor that are killed. It is their rights that are violated. It is their communities that are subject to aerial bombings and abuses during military and police operations.

As the poor suffer, the drug lords, land-grabbers, big mining corporations, and their protectors in government, continue to get away with their crimes.

We likewise unite against the dangers of reimposing the death penalty and of lowering the age of criminal responsibility. Given the weaknesses and failures of our justice system, such measures will most likely further victimize the poor, the weak and the powerless.

Drug abuse, criminality, social unrest and rebellion are but symptoms of deep-seated, historical problems that cannot be solved by wars against the poor or the imposition of martial law. We need to address the roots of the problems—massive poverty, social injustice, corruption, and failure to assert national sovereignty and genuine independence.

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In this light, we also call for the continuation of the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and the Moro National Liberation Front. Only by mutually addressing the roots of the armed conflicts can all parties hope to forge a just and lasting peace for our people.

We shall continue to pursue various paths to peace based on justice and the full respect for human rights. It is our hope and prayer that President Duterte and all government officials can still listen and change.

10 CURRENT AND FORMER MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, AND 111 RELIGIOUS LEADERS, HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES, SECTORAL LEADERS AND CONCERNED FILIPINOS

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TAGS: human rights, Independence Day, Rally for peace
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