DAVAO CITY — After a four-day tour to different communities in Mindanao, an estimated 200 human rights activists from different countries opened the 2nd General Assembly of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines at the Brokenshire Convention Center on Thursday, July 21.
Bishop Felixberto Calang, chairperson of the Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao, said the assembly will discuss the experiences and the findings of the delegates who joined the International Solidarity Missions in various areas where there are recorded cases of human rights violations in the Philippines.
From July 16 to 20, 2016 the ISM in areas in Mindanao, Cordillera, Eastern Visayas, Southern Tagalog, and Panay region. In Mindanao the delegates went to Mt. Balabag in Zamboanga del Sur to immerse with former workers of a mining company in the area. Groups of delegates also visited indigenous people’s communities and schools in Talaingod in Davao del Norte and villages in Arakan and Magpet towns in North Cotabato province.
“Our objective is to inform the people about their rights, now only human rights, but people’s rights,” said Calang.
Calang said the difference between the two is that human rights is “individual”, while people’s rights is “collective”.
“If we look at it closely, what is being violated are not just the rights of an individual but the collective rights of the people,” Calang told Davao Today.
He cited the case of two tribal leaders who were recently attacked in Barangay Manuel Guianga, Tugbok District here.
The victims identified as Herme Alegre, 28, secretary of the Salugpungan School PTCA and Danny Diarog, 31, vice chairperson of the Kahugpungan sa Lumad and the tribal chieftain of Sitio Kahusayan were attacked by armed men riding in motorcycles on July 15. Both are members of the Bagobo Klata tribe.
Jay Apiag, spokesperson of Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of Human Rights told Davao Today in an interview on Saturday, July 16 that the two victims came from a meeting with the National Commission for the Indigenous People to talk about their ancestral domain when they were attacked.
Calang said the two were possibly attacked because of defending their ancestral lands.
“They are not only fighting for their individual rights, but for the collective rights of the Lumad people they represent,” he said.
The assembly started with a cultural program on Thursday night. In the afternoon, a discussion on People’s Rights: Right to Development and Right to Self-Determination was given by the IBON International.
After the two-day assembly of the international coalition, the two-day International Conference for People’s Rights in the Philippines will be held on Saturday and Sunday, July 23-24. The conference will also tackle the human rights situation in countries including Africa, Asia and in Latin America. The event will be the first ever global rights meet in the Philippines under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Calang said after their plenary, they hope to submit to President Duterte the conference’s outputs. “We will submit it to him so he will be made aware of the situation and hopefully he can come up with responses to eliminate the violation of people’s rights.”
He said they also hope to gather an “overwhelming support to the Filipino people’s resistance to the curtailment of people’s rights.”
“We would also like to be part of the international resistance movement to further advance people’s rights,” he said. (davaotoday.com)