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Call for human rights: A ‘voice crying in the wilderness’

/ 05:10 AM January 17, 2019

The Philippines is not yet a full-blown dictatorship, but our claim to democracy has become tenuous at best.

Reliable figures are hard to come by in a country where surveys are predetermined by their “sponsors.” Nonetheless, the headlines of dailies cannot but give a horrendous picture of the human rights situation in the former Pearl of the Orient.

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New and old criminal cases overlap. The Ampatuan massacre occurred on Nov. 23, 2009, in Maguindanao province. Thirty-two journalists are known to have been killed. The trial in the town of Ampatuan drags on with not a single conviction in sight. The powerful perpetrators have the money to cover the exorbitant fees of lawyers who see to it that they literally “get away with murder.”

On Dec. 4, 2017, at around 8 p.m., Fr. Marcelito Paez, then regional coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in Central Luzon, was shot while driving his vehicle in San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija.

A day earlier, elements of the 27th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army and the Marines killed eight T’boli and Dulangan Manobo in Sitio Datal Bong Langon, Barangay Ned, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. The list of heinous crimes lengthens.

On record since the start of the Duterte regime on June 30, 2016 are 13 massacres, 216 political killings and more than 20,000 killings related to the ongoing drug war.

Obviously, the present regime is oblivious to the matter of human rights and morality.

More recently, nine farmers were massacred in Negros Occidental; a week later their lawyer, Benjamin Ramos, was ambushed and killed. Former congressman Satur Ocampo and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, together with 16 others, were also arrested and charged with trumped-up charges of human trafficking in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

On Nov. 28, President Duterte announced that he will create an armed civilian group to counter the New People’s Army Sparrow unit, a group of urban assassins blamed for the deaths of security forces and former rebels.

The President said his DDS (Duterte Death Squad) would be sent to transport terminals, eateries and other public places to kill suspected rebels and even loiterers and junkies.

All these point to the blatant disregard for human rights by the powerful of the land who  are supposedly chosen to serve God, people and country.

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Thus, the importance of Human Rights Day (marked on Dec. 10); it is no less than a declaration of the universal and inalienable right to be human. But, in the Philippines at present, such a declaration sounds more and more  like “a weak voice crying in the wilderness.”

FR. WILFREDO T. DULAY, MDJ, Convenor, Religious Discernment Group, [email protected]

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TAGS: human rights, Inquirer letters, unsolved killings, Wilfredo T. Dulay
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