On the 72nd year of the Universal Declaration on Respect for Human Rights: Stand firm and fight for human rights

Translation: Bisaya

Today, December 10, 2020, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in NorthEastern Mindanao Region (NDFP-NEMR) join the people around the world in the celebration of the 72nd year of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN-UDHR). As we commemorate UN-UDHR, we give the highest honor to the Filipinos who gave up their lives, in the struggle for human rights. At the same time, we also salute the human rights defenders who continue the fight for human rights despite being brutally attacked with impunity by the US-Duterte fascist regime.

Human rights is gravely violated in the Philippines, with impunity by the fascist, dictator wanna be Duterte and his minions. It intensifies further as the Duterte administration’s gross incompetence in handling the pandemic is exposed and more and more people criticize his administration’s bungling, haphazard and hollow attempts to handle the pandemic. As Duterte’s inutility grows, his fascism grow as his government attack and brand as terrorists and mere “dilawan” those who voice their criticism, even suggestions in an attempt to negate their very valid points.

The Philippines is run by the military with the bumbling, drug-addled and clearly chronically ill Duterte as its mere figurehead. Former AFP generals are important figures in Duterte’s cabinet, holding vital government agencies: such as Gen. Delfin Lorenzana of DND, Gen. Eduardo Ano of DILG, Gen. Hermogenes Esperon of NSC, Gen. Roy Cimatu of DENR, Gen. Rolando Bautista of DSWD, Carlito Galvez, Jr. of OPAPP, Eduardo del Rosario of DHSUD (housing department), Gregorio Honasan of DICT, Danilo Lim of MMDA.

The government agencies administered by these generals have the highest budget allocations and its programs are all focused on counter-insurgency despite the fact that they claim the NPA is on its way to being annihilated. Duterte’s NTF-ELCAC is now known as the “general’s pork barrel” especially as for 2021, despite Covid19 and several devastating natural calamities, the NTF-ELCAC is set to get 16 billion as budget for 2021. Millions will line the pockets of the military generals and the funds will be used to go after the press, human rights advocates, progressives and civilians, even celebrities, red-tagging them as NPA and terrorists to rationalize the use of the bulk government funds despite the greater need for funding to fight CoViD 19 and for the rehabilitation of calamity devastated provinces.

As military men run his government, Duterte resorts to baseless accusations, false statements and even petty name calling against his critiques, like a spoiled petulant child acting like the underdog.

The people of Caraga has been subjected to brutal human rights violations by the Duterte government, deploying 3 brigades with 9 infantry battalions of the AFP, increasing the police forces of the PNP and using armed criminal paramilitaries.

The military encamp and launch brutal military operations in the mountain and farming communities of Caraga even during the CoVid19 pandemic. This year alone 7 civilians have been extra judicially killed, either by military assets riding in tandem or by military/police agents themselves. They kill even elderly civilians like 78 year old Rolando Leyson Sr. for the sole reason of having a son or relatives who are members of the NPA, claiming the victims fought back, their persons and houses planted with firearms and explosives. Adding to the injury, they threaten and harass family members of the victims.

Under the CoVid19 pandemic, close to 300 families have been forced to leave 7 communities and a number of children and the elderly are traumatized by the 6 incidents of bombings of farmlands and areas near their homes. They endanger further the children as AFP troops fire upon civilian houses such as what happened in Lianga, Surigao del Sur where a 5 year old child was hit by bullet shrapnel in February and in San Agustin, Surigao del Sur where 6 and 7 year old children were almost hit by bullets last October. They violate the right to education of the Lumad youth by forcibly closing down Lumad schools built by the sweat and blood of the Lumad people.

Civilians in highly militarized communities have become the milking cows of military officials who get big cuts from “government assistance” to “NPA surrenderees” and projects for “NPA cleared communities.” They force civilians in communities and members/leaders of progressive organizations to surrender as NPA, recycle surrenderees and appropriate for themselves the bigger slash from the funds intended for them. Thus, to get bigger amounts they report that hundreds if not thousands have surrendered despite claiming that the NPA forces in NEMR have dwindled to a mere 300 fighters at the start of Duterte’s reign.

The human rights defenders in NorthEastern Mindanao Region are being subjected to violent attacks by the AFP/PNP. Three (3) progressives have been killed in Caraga this year including the elderly Nora Apique, a peasant leader who was brutally killed in March 31 in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur. They have filed 26 trumped-up charges based on NPA actions against more than 200 progressives and members of humanitarian groups, arresting and detaining several.

They red-tag the very same people, the military and their asset of trolls posting pictures of human rights defenders and calling them NPA and terrorists/communists, in social media and put up tarpaulins of the same. They are constantly under surveillance, threatened and harassed.

The Duterte regime does all these to silence those who expose and help the victims of human rights violations, especially those who expose the dislocations of communities due to bombings and human rights violations for the further plunder of Caraga’s natural resources by large scale mining operations and plantations.

The AFP/PNP violate the rules of war, killing members of the NPA without giving them a chance to surrender, assassinating even those who are not armed like in the case of the unarmed NPA medic Ka Reb. They further desecrated the remains of Ka Reb posing her body and taking pictures with it like a trophy.

Amidst all these attacks, the NDFP-NEMR calls on human rights advocates to stand firm, to fight on for human rights. This is not a time to be silent. As the democratic space is further narrowed by the fascist Duterte and his minions, join us in waging the revolution. Join the New People’s Army and let us struggle for human rights!

On the 72nd year of the Universal Declaration on Respect for Human Rights: Stand firm and fight for human rights