Group dares poll bets to carry human rights agenda

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Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of Karapatan. PHOTO BY RONALYN V. OLEA
Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of Karapatan. PHOTO BY RONALYN V. OLEA

LEGAZPI CITY (11-Feb-2013) – Human rights should be an election issue, said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, “because the 2013 election is happening amid increasing human rights violations under the three-year old Aquino and on the last year of Oplan Bayanihan’s first phase.”

“Let not the election ruckus drown the violations of human rights under the Aquino government. The candidates should speak on the Aquino government’s human rights record so the voting public would know where they stand, as far as the promotion and protection of human rights is concerned.”

Majority of the candidates in the senatorial elections are from rich political clans, and some have been directly or indirectly involved in human rights violations such as the massacre of peasants, the violation of workers’ rights or have promoted programs and projects that cause or will result to the displacement of people from their communities.

“There is no ‘matuwid na daan’ without respecting the people’s rights. Candidates, should first and foremost speak on the Aquino government counterinsurgency program, the Oplan Bayanihan, which had resulted to gross abuses and human rights violations against the Filipino people. Will the candidates work on junking Oplan Bayanihan?” Palabay added.

Karapatan had repeatedly called for the end of the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan and is again putting forward such concern in the 2013 elections. Among those listed in the human rights agenda for the 2013 election, based on its 2012 4thCongress resolution, are:

  • The end to the government’s practice of extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearance, arbitrary arrest and detention based on trumped up criminal charges, torture and other forms of human rights violations.
  • An end to militarization and the immediate pullout of military troops from rural and urban communities, including the use of schools, Churches and other civilian facilities for military purposes.
  • Dismantling of paramilitary forces such as the CAFGU and SCAA through the revocation of Executive Order 546 and other similar policies.
  • The release of all political prisoners especially the elderly and those who have ailments. In line with this, Karapatan likewise puts forward the immediate release of all NDFP consultations based on earlier commitment by the Aquino government, for the immediate resumption of the peace negotiations between the GPH and the NDFP.
  • An end to forced eviction and demolition of urban poor communities in favour of the government’s program of Public-Private Partnership (PPP).

While Karapatan lined up the HR agenda for 2013, Palabay added that, “we have not forgotten that the Aquino government still owes the Filipino people for failing to hold accountable the Gloria Arroyo government for its rights violations, for the arrest of Gen. Jovito Palparan and for promoting Arroyo’s generals such Segovia, Ano, among others.”

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