The victims and families of the despicable Ampatuan, Maguindanao massacre have a right to redress. Bodies “bearing marks of despicable torture, contempt and outrageous torment” cry to the heavens for justice. The perpetrators of the gruesome murders, rape and other inhuman and cruel treatment must also be brought to justice. Proper charges must be made against them.
The Supreme Court has established that despite threats against some judges and court personnel the judicial system is able to respond to the needed procedures demanded by the despicable massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao. This debunks one of the basis for issuing Presidential Proclamation 1959 stating that “the local judicial system and other government mechanisms in the province are not functioning, thus endangering public safety….” The other conditions, ironically brought about by Executive patronage, which purportedly deprived the Chief Executive or the Legislature of its powers and prerogatives could be rectified, if Ms Arroyo is willing.
Our national heroes of the past, like Gat Andres de Castro Bonifacio, have raged and organized against the trampling (what we now call as impunity) of human dignity during the Spanish and American colonial periods. We take continuous inspiration and courage from the women and men who fought for individual and national freedoms and justice and broke through the impunity of their times. Human rights defenders of today cannot but be enthused by their examples of unselfish and determined struggles to uplift our common humanity and dignity. Human rights defenders must be unwavering in their goal to break impunity.
The champions of the Philippine Revolution against colonization rose up in arms not just to fight for freedom and independence but also for lands, decent jobs, livelihood, right to education, and, essentially, the right to live humanely.
It was an uprising for rights, a cry for dignity.
Today, even as we proudly remember our heroes and their valiant deeds, we are still hounded by issues and atrocities that undermine human rights and attack the very fiber of our beings as individuals, as communities, and as a nation.
Development is not development when it is being rammed down the throats of the people.
Development becomes aggression when it undermines the will of the people and triggers human rights violations in the process.
The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) condemns in the strongest possible terms the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) decision to issue an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) for the 11, 200 hectare Mindoro Nickel Project to be ‘developed’ by the Intex Resources, a Norwegian mining company.