Thursday, May 15, 2008

Philippine Human Rights Record

While our government boasts of a vibrant democracy, hidden in the shadows is its human rights abuses. As bloggers around the world unite for human rights we in the Philippines would like the world to know about what is happening in our country. Abductions, enforced disappearances and summary executions are a dime a dozen here. Journalists, youths and even judges are not spared. The violations run in the thousands since Gloria and her henchmen took over the reins of power.

The most glaring assault on press freedom was that of the alleged failed coup last Nov. 29, 2007. An elected senator, a general and several civilians locked themselves in a hotel in the prime city of Makati. Journalists who covered the event was later summarily arrested and brought to a military camp to be questioned. The GMA administration threatened the journalists of charges of obstruction and aiding and abetting the alleged participants of the coup. Even foreign journalists were not spared. Though released soon after, the government left a chilling effect on the media. The GMA-controlled Dept. of Justice also threatened the hapless journalists.

Access to information is also being denied to the public. Any personality who exposes anomalies are charged with libel or worst, kidnapped. Members of progressive groups who have been educating rural folks of their rights are branded communists and liquidated. Men, women and children are not spared from harassment by security forces. During an encounter last year between rebels and the military, a young child was shot pointblank by a soldier. They planted an assault rifle bigger than the slain child and made it appear that the poor kid was a child-soldier.

Due process is nonexistent as the administration controls all institutions of government. The corruption that pervades has made life so hard that hunger and malnutrition in children is common. Many of the less fortunate subsist on foraging for food in garbage cans. Child labor is widespread and an accepted norm. Despite assertions by the government that poverty has decreased, the reality on the ground shows otherwise.

Women may enjoy equal rights on paper, but more often than not, victims of rape end up being blamed for what happened to them. Hypocrisy and apathy by the very people tasked to protect rape victims has led to numerous unreported cases of rape. Children victimized by pedophiles suffer in silence. A convicted child rapist would have been released had it not been exposed by the vigilant media.

A student who died during a fraternity hazing is yet to be served justice. Perpetrators of the crime still roam freely due to the protection of influential members who are in government. Connections to personalities in power leave the citizens to the hands of lawless gangs who has no respect for human rights and justice. Death squads roam with impunity through the auspices of local officials. Life is cheap in this country and killings go unsolved because of an indifferent justice system and an apathetic society.

People are terrorized into submission. With government condoning outright abuse, justice comes slow to those who seek it. Government only shows superficial efforts to address these violations to appease the international community. The reality is that the administration would rather enrich themselves than do its job. The proof of our government insincerity is its refusal to ratify the Rome statute that could pave the for a genuine resolution to human rights abuses.

Human rights is the foundation for a modern global society. Unless these abuses stop, the world will forever have strife and suffering. Each one of us must do our share in pressuring our leaders and the the peoples of the world that for peace and progress to reign, protecting the rights of all is imperative.