By Don Pagusara
Prints & Traces
My friend Lito rasps: “Ngano man kahang gi-initan man gyud sa CHR ang atong Mayor, no? Imbestigahan daw tungod sa iyang pamahayag nga patyon ang dakong taeng smuggler sa bugas kun moanhi sa Davao!” [Why should our Mayor be the object of reproof by the CHR on account of his statement that he would kill the Number One rice smuggler if he comes to Davao?”]
“Kay unsa man diay hunahuna nimo sa gisulti sa Mayor?” [But, what do you think of the Mayor’s words?”]
“Murag dili patas ang CHR sa mga pamaagi ini. Sulti ra man nang kang Mayor! Kadaghan dinhang grabeng mga paglapas sa tawhanong katungod, wala man lagi na gukda!” [It seems the CHR is unfair the way it conducts its function. The Mayor’s act is mere words! What about the many serious violations of human rights in our midst, have they been prosecuted?”]
Excellent observation, Ka Lito! Indeed, why should our Mayor be singled out by the CHR? To look at it more critically, we are prompted to ask who has gravely violated the human rights of thousands – no, millions! – of our people? Aren’t the acts of the big-time rice smuggler (what’s his name: David Tan? Bangayan? Etcetera?) constitute a grievous violation of the people’s human rights?
But what Ka Lito really lamented is the serious human rights violations happening in our midst! And these are committed by law-enforcement agents themselves – the security forces of the State – the police and the military troops, the very people who are supposed to safeguard the human rights of the citizens!
What has the CHR done to protect the rights of domicile of the poor residents that they call “informal settlers” within the borders of the cities? Whose houses have often been targets of demolition by the government, leaving them homeless and deprived of livelihood? Is the CHR blind to this unbridled disregard of the human rights of the poor citizens of this country? And to think that the affluent sectors of our society are living in mansions and owning vast hectares of land?
What and where are the ideals of democracy constantly bragged about by the bagpipes of the government and spokespersons of the rich and the powerful? What democratic principles can they invoke and summon up to render justice to the huge masses of our impoverished people who do not have a square-inch slice of land in this country?
The term “democracy” in the vocabulary of this free enterprise society is of very misleading significance! Its meaning is confined only to “freedom of choice” of leaders during elections. But, in fact, there is no real freedom in our electoral system! It’s a misnomer!
The abiding logic of a true democratic society should cover the whole range of societal affairs – from the economic to the political to the cultural. There cannot be political democracy if there is no economic equality among the entire population constituting the society. And certainly, cultural values, as reflections of the economy and politics of a society uphold and reinforce the quality and character of the economic base. An exploitative economic base and an oppressive political system are mirrored in the realm of culture as selfish acquisitive obsession, monopolistic mentality, subservience to obscurantist and patronage system, decadent consumerist values, apathy and lack of social awareness, etcetera etcetera.
We may ask: how can the trumpeters of “democracy” under the present set-up conceive of the acts of government as fair and just in its daily acts of violence against the masses of the people who are wallowing under conditions of dire deprivation and abject poverty? Does this state of affairs resemble an equitable sharing of the nation’s wealth and natural resources? Is this the real premise of what they call “democracy”? Does this not constitute a wholesale violation of; the people’s human rights?
And yet the millions of the downtrodden are the reliable reserve force of the State in times when their services are needed to salvage our country from disaster. The poor and property-less citizenry – in the urban centers and in the rural areas—are invariably summoned to exercise their patriotic duties in times of national emergency or during instances when the State is on the brink of the perils to national survival.
Verily, aren’t the OFWs the real saviors of the economic setbacks of our republic? Aren’t their dollar remittances practically the economic props of this country? And yet, has the government been fair and just to them? Hasn’t it in fact insulted them, attributing to them such nauseous praises of cajolery by calling them unsungheroes, when in the foreign countries where they work our embassy officials just leave to their own devices in the midst of concrete circumstances of need and helplessness?
Deprived as they were before they embarked to seek their fortunes in strange lands, their human rights had already been violated. And there in far-away places their human rights have also been continually violated by the indifference, lack of concern, or outright neglect by our government of their plight. Lo and behold! Some of our OFW compatriots have in fact been molested and abused by Philippine embassy officials in the so called “sex for flight” scandal!
Let us shift our attention to what have since transpired in the countryside. How many of our indigenous peoples and settlers have been kidnapped, illegally detained, tortured and killed by the soldiers of the Aquino administration? Countless! Have the CHR taken cognizance of these? And if they have, what actions have they initiated, if at all, to run after the culprits? Have they done their honest-to-goodness probe Kim Gargar’s case? — the UP professor who has been arrested and detained for clearly trumped-up charges by the military in Davao Oriental? And what about the detention and torture of minors falsely accused of aproviding help to the rebels? Don’t these criminal acts by the military not constitute violations of human rights?
Talk of CHR’s concern for human rights violations. Whom is it really serving? The human rights victims or the violators? Or better still, what is the logic of this government entity? What is its philosophical foundation? Where does it stand in the order and task of human development? Is it another agency that functions to justify the state of underdevelopment of Philippine society? Is it not another entity that serves as guardian of the privileges of the ruling elite to preserve and perpetuate the social structure of our society?
For all its avowed mandate and mission, it operates behind a mask of hypocrisy. (davaotoday.com)Commission on Human Rights, davao city, duterte, Etta Rosales, human rights Philippines, philippines