A murky human rights landscape
The “Night Falls On The Philippines” cover story of Time in September of 2016 has become even murkier as the world observed the International Human Rights Day this December 10, 2019. Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos calls the human rights landscape in the country today dismal. And that’s even considerate.
In a statement released on Human Rights Day, Alminaza reports that “In Negros alone, 87 extra-judicial killings have been documented since the beginning of 2017. There are also 100 political prisoners in Negros, 95 of which were arrested during the present administration. Nationally, at least 297 political extra-judicial killings, 429 frustrated killings, and 11 enforced disappearances are matched by thousands upon thousands of killings under President Rodrigo Duterte’s so-called ‘war on drugs.’ He adds that “Evil has descended to hover like a dark night over poor and marginalized communities throughout the land.” And that’s where the rub is, the victims of gross human rights violations in the Philippines, as perhaps true too in other countries, have been doubly victimized by unjust social structures that marginalized them into vulnerable poorest communities.
Caceres archbishop Rolando Tirona of the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) has called for the ringing of Church bells across the country to mark the Human Rights Day. According to him, the simultaneous ringing “…is a way of proclaiming that the Church does not allow human dignity to be dehumanized, manipulated, exploited, marginalized, and set aside, excluded or dehumanized.” He lamented that many even fell victims of unjust structures of society, “thereby making them vulnerable to abuses of power by the government and the ‘powers that be’.”
With the poor being the most vulnerable to human rights violations, it may be said that unless the root causes of pervasive poverty in the country is addressed the human right landscape is never going any brighter.