The celebration of historic event is not about the personalities who emerged victorious. It is about unsung heroes of yesterday who vigilantly fought for the nation to be free. EDSA People Power is not about the Aquinos neither their cohorts, who are now brandish as so-called “Dilawans”. Lest we forget that there were ordinary people – farmers, workers, fisherfolks, teachers, students, church people, and even professionals who offered their lives in the altar of struggle and resistance for nationalism and democracy. They who chose not to be cowed by silence and fear in the face of a despot and plunderer. It was an act of people reawakening. It was the people empowered by passion to change and to act for change. The power that ousted a dictator. The power that awakened hundreds of thousands amidst massive and widespread human rights violations which occurred during the dark days of Martial Law under the Marcos dictatorship. The power arose by the paragons of justice, peace and democracy emerging from the climate of fear and quandary.
Statement on the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
Seven decades ago at the end of World War Two humankind has asserted that the destruction of human dignity in order to achieve power over populations through violence and fear would no longer reign in the world. Thus the United Nations on December 10, 1948 agreed on a Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which would set the standard by which all nations strive to achieve for each of their citizens.
70 years on, the UDHR remain more relevant than ever as the world is now faced with an alarming rise in rightist and populist governments in many countries. Specifically in the Philippines, which has been under the Duterte presidency for more than two years, the respect for life and human dignity had been atrociously violated a thousand times over.
Dear Honourable Chairperson Deloso-Montalla,
The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) writes this Open Letter to the House of Representatives Committee on Human Rights in the Philippines to emphasise the importance of enacting provisions to protect human rights defenders (HRDs) under the domestic legal framework.
Providing protection to HRDs under the national legal framework is necessary to protect those that are targeted for their legitimate human rights work. From January 2017 to July 2018, FORUM-ASIA documented 40 emblematic cases of attacks, intimidation and harassment against defenders in the Philippines. Among these cases, 18 were killings of HRDs – mostly journalists, and land and environmental rights defenders. Perpetrators are often not brought to account, and impunity of security forces is prevailing in the country.
Former first lady and Ilocos Norte representative Imelda R. Marcos has been convicted by the Sandiganbayan of seven counts of graft during her term in the cabinet of her husband the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos from 1965 to 1986. Marcos, 89, was sentenced to a minimum of 42 years in prison.
The judgement may be a cause for celebration if not for the pervading political environment in the Philippines which enabled the rehabilitation of the Marcos’ family legacy via the late dictator’s burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the running election protest of Bongbong Marcos before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal versus Vice President Leni Robredo, and the involvement of Imee Marcos in fraudulent purchasing transactions using tobacco excise taxes.
The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) congratulates the more than 150 human rights defenders from around the world who are now gathering in Paris to renew the commitment to advance human rights, and to fight against tyranny repression, and discrimination.
It has been twenty years since the rights and duties of human rights defenders have been recognized and guaranteed under international laws with the adoption of the 1998 United National Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms). They are those who dare to stand up for what is right, speak out against abuse, denounce violations, demand action, fight for a better world. in peaceful and non-violent means.