Gobyernong Pnoy: Pamamahala at Kaunlaran sa Iilan, Disgrasya sa Karapatan ng Mamamayan!

Impunity Worsens Effects of Climate Change
International Human Rights Day
December 10, 2014

Human Rights in the Aquino Administration: Failure of Leadership, No Direction, Impunity Perpetuated

Walang pamumuno ang administrasyong Aquino sa pagpapatupad ng karapatang pantao para sa malawak na bilang ng mamamayang Pilipino. Walang inilabas na National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP). Walang itinakdang pangkalahatang balangkas at pambansang targets na dapat makamit sa kabuuang panahon ng pamamahala ni Presidente Benigno S. Aquino, III, bilang Chief Executive at Commander-in-Chief ng Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Bara-bara, kanya-kanyang planong pang-departamento at mapili ayon sa lakas-tulak ng mamamayan at tawag ng pulitika sa pagtataguyod na kalimitan ay di pinapansin ang karapatang pantao. Nakakalungkot at nakaka-ngitngit ang pagpabaya sa ganitong kaayusan ng Commission on Human Rights (CHR), pangunahing institusyong binuo ng ating Saligang Batas noong 1986 na inaasahang taga-bantay at taga-subaybay sa pagpapatupad ng pamahalaan ng mga obligasyon nito na ipatupad ang mga karapatang pantao.

May nagawa, kung may nagawa ang pamahalaan, ngunit di masinsin at pursigido upang maibsan kung di man tuluyang matigil ang malaganap na kultura ng impunity o walang kalunasan na maasahan sa mga mabibigat at paglaganap ng paglabag sa karapantang pantao.

Impunity and Climate Change

Impunity lurks even amidst the typhoons and disasters. It worsens also the effects of climate change. An example of this is the Presidential visit in Manicani last November 2014. An event after a year of super typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda‟s devastation in the country illustrates how impunity persists and overcasts the gains in the human rights arena. Manicani, a site of mining explorations and operations since the late 1980‟s, experienced destruction of their environment as well as their sources of food, water and means of subsistence and livelihood. Affected people protested and resisted the mining onslaught. No one has been held accountable.

Then came Yolanda. Making its first landfall in Guiuan with its 47,000 population, destroyed most of the buildings, injured some 2,000 left, 100 persons dead and made the poor people, as well as their environment and their sources of subsistence, poorer. Poverty is not only made worse but also perpetuated and made more difficult if not impossible to escape. Enter the present “non-operating” mining company in Manicani, Nickel Asia Corporation, to help build more than 400 houses. And the President was “inspired” to mark this effort as the exemplar of “resilience”, according to UNDP Standards. Nothing has been mentioned of the impunity of mining companies against people‟s rights, especially their economic and social rights. Impunity has been layered over.

Take another example – the Marcopper spill and continuing threat in Marinduque. While on a different vein, there seems to be indifference and the lack of effective action of government since 1996 to prevent the “imminent danger” of the Maguila-guila dam from another toxic spill resulting from leftover wastes of the Marinduque Copper Mining Corp. (Marcopper).

The situation could be more devastating than what the people first experienced in 1996 points to an inconsistency in government‟s present strategic planning to make the country ready for the consequences of climate change. Marinduque, hit by Typhoon Hagupit or Ruby at 11am Monday, still have to assess whether the dam has been affected and what consequences occurred.

Any accountability will mainly be that of government, specifically the present officials who has so far perpetuated impunity and reneged with their obligations to human and inter-generational rights, especially to 87,000 people of the towns of Boac and Mogpoc.

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), however, perceives that in Manicani and in Marinduque, the President and his administration has given the overall go-signal for nation-wide corporate-backed impunity against people and environment. It exposes, as a whole, the inconsistencies in development plans and actualities on the ground.

Development Aggression Spearheaded by Impunity

While thousands of farmer-human rights defenders are still struggling against human rights violations and for their beneficiary status over more than half a million hectares covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), many have the added difficulties of contending with corporations‟ legal and armed capabilities. For example: Armando Campos y Adlawan, an indigenous Manobo member of the NDC Estates Inc. Multi-Purpose Cooperative (NGEI MPC), allegedly killed on August 9, 2014 by personnel of the Filipinas Palm Oil Plantation, Inc. (FPPI), the biggest palm oil plantation in Mindanao, while struggling until this date to reclaim their land in Agusan del Sur covered by CARP;

CARP Beneficiaries and Aetas claiming their Ancestral Land / Domain are fighting against FL Properties – now Terrafirma Holdings Inc., and LLL Holdings Inc., which may be part of the urban development planned by Ayala Land (ALI) which is investing P75B to develop Alviera, a 1,100-hectare mix-used community situated in Porac, Pampanga. The Aetas were once victim of Spanish and American land grabbers. Now, there vulnerabilities are exploited by present–day capitalists in the guise of being “developers” „ so as to annex with force the IPs ancestral lands/domain.

The acquiescence and/or collution of local government authorities and security forces in some instances are not isolated cases but precedents of contestations which could escalate into armed conflict if not determinedly resolved justly. The cases in Agusan del Sur and in Tampacan, South Cotabato show that the incidents of impunity against civil-political rights in these areas are mainly off-shoot of impunity against the economic, social and cultural rights of people.

For decades, Human Rights Defenders have fought for similar rights. Many have sacrificed even their lives. Many are still in prison. This pattern of impunity could continue and be multiplied if the government, with the President‟s Emergency Powers to avert an unproved energy crisis, will build more coal plants (17 existing, 26 approved, 12 proposed, 71 coal mining permits) and release more carbon emissions that would destroy surrounding water systems and sources of subsistence, harm people‟s health as well as exacerbate global warming and climate change. Production of dirty energy from coal is only profitable to a handful of elite business people but will, in the long run, wreck havoc to the  people and the planet. Resistance against violations and destructions, as well as struggles for a life with dignity and full human development will not be an option, but an imperative.

PAHRA calls on all defenders of human rights, both duty bearers and claimholders, to set up formations at all levels that will ensure that human rights are the preferred values in every branch of governance and in every development plan and implementation.

Protect Human Rights Defenders and release imprisoned ones.

End political dynasties and advance participative democracy.

Pass the Freedom of Information Bill now for more informed citizenry.

Halt further building of and operating coal plants. Increase projects of Renewable Energy.

Work for a binding international treaty that holds corporations accountable of human rights violations and abuses.

Make human rights be the framework of the 2014 Updated Philippine Development Plan.