HR violations worsen after 30th year of EDSA People Power
It is rather ironic that after former Pres. Corazon Aquino supposedly restored democracy in the Philippines, the same gross human rights violations that the Marcos dictatorship was known for would be committed during the administration of her son.
Development workers and staff of progressive NGOs have been experiencing harassment and vilification under Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s regime. Member organizations of the Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes (PNFSP) have reported numerous cases of trumped-up charges against their staff. These include murder, double-murder, kidnapping, and arson. These charges are so absurd that they are bordering on comical. These people have dedicated their lives for the upliftment of the lives of the rural poor – the farmers and indigenous people. Yet, the government repays them by threatening their lives and disrupting their work. Perhaps the worst cases are those of the murder of two Executive Directors. The first was Wilhelm Geertman of Alay Bayan-Luzon in 2012 and Emerito Samarca of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) last September 1, 2015.
Moreover, the government is now targeting socio-economic initiatives of PNFSP’s members. The rice mill owned by the Central Visayas Farmers Development Center (FARDEC) located in Trinidad-Talibon, Bohol has experienced different types of maltreatment, ranging from illegal disconnection of its electricity to the illegal entry of army soldiers in the warehouse. The rice mill is in fact beneficial to the Trinidad Talibon Farmers Association. It procures palay at .50 centavos per kilo higher than the price set by the big traders. It also provides a rice mill facility which is lower in milling fees, thereby increasing the farmers’ income and providing the farmers easy access to such a very important post harvest facility. Thus, the harassment it is experiencing greatly inconveniences the farmers.
The agricultural schools for indigenous people, together with the faculty and students, have suffered the most harassment and militarization, resulting to displacement from their ancestral lands and the deaths of their tribesmen and leaders. The ALCADEV teachers, students, and their families have been living for close to 6 months in the Provincial Sports Complex in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur. They used to live peacefully in the mountains of Han-ayan until the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary group wrecked havoc on their community. At present, the government is proving its incompetence in providing peace and order for the Lumad people by not capturing the leaders of the paramilitary group despite a standing warrant. Instead, it is manufacturing trumped-up charges against development workers who are working tirelessly to provide the social services that the government is unable and unwilling to give to the marginalized sectors.
With the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the People Power Revolution, Pres. Noynoy Aquino should be ashamed of the scores of human rights violations committed by government and military forces during his regime.
Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes