Groups want Aquino’s SONA to tackle human rights, economic justice
DAVAO CITY, Philippines–International groups want President Benigno Aquino III to come up with measures to stop human rights abuses and check economic programs affecting the people on Monday’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) .
In separate statements, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the International Conference on Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (ICCHRP) called Aquino to act on extrajudicial killings, and abuses brought by mining and militarization in communities.
“President Aquino should use this State of the Nation speech to put meat on the bones of his human rights commitments by outlining specific measures to tackle ongoing human rights problems,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “At the top of his list is holding abusive members of the security forces accountable.”
The group has written to Aquino urging him to take specific measures to prosecute state security forces implicated in human rights violations; disband local militias and paramilitary forces and rescind Presidential Executive Order 546 that allows ‘private armies’; stop abuses in mining areas; and prosecute officials implicated in “death squad” killings in Davao and other cities.
Soldiers were implicated last October in the brutal killing of the family of indigenous leader Daguil Capion who campaigned against the large-scale mining operations of the Sagittarius Mines Inc. in the boundaries of Tampakan, South Cotabato and Davao del Sur. No charges have been filed against the military’s 27th Infantry Battalion suspected to have perpetrated the killing.
Meanwhile, an American human rights lawyer urged the government to stop the economic policies that adversely affect ordinary citizens, especially the poor.
Jeanne Mirer, president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and member of the US National Lawyers’ Guild, delivered this point in her keynote at the International Conference on Human Rights and Peace (ICHRPP) at the Great Eastern Hotel in Quezon City which began last Friday.
“It is time that we use human rights law to challenge policies to ensure that Filipinos can make the Philippine government actually devote maximum available resources to progressively realize basic economic human rights articulated in the International Convention on Economic and Socio-Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR),” Mirer said.
Mirer cited that the “undemocratic” neo-liberal economic order “dominated by multinationals and supported by Aquino is leading unrest among the people.” Demolitions underlie the problems of urban migration, unemployment and lack of social services for the informal settlers. While in the countryside, “conflicts arise when mining companies enter the communities with military or paramilitary troops harassing civilians.”
Mirer stressed that instead of pursuing neo-liberal policies, responding to people’s economic rights will achieve peace for the country.
The ICHRPP, attended by peace and rights advocates, earlier sent missions in several parts of Mindanao. The Davao contingent visited striking banana plantation workers in Compostela, as well as survivors of Typhoon Pablo. Another contingent in Magsaysay, Davao del Sur reported of rights abuses in the course of the military’s counter-insurgency operations.
The ICHRPP peace advocates from the US, Canada, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East will join a protest march on Monday during Pres. Aquino’s 4th State of the Nation Address.(davaotoday.com)