Human Rights All-Time Issue

Manila Bulletin, July 11, 2006 | Go to article overview

Human Rights All-Time Issue


Byline: Hern. P. Zenarosa

THE recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.

With this introductory statement, the Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights opens up a vision of a world in which the human rights of all are fully respected regardless of race, religion, education, or station in life.

Article 1 of the declaration states that "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

The virtue and nobility of such declaration is, of course, moving.

And yet, it is curious that after more than half a century from the time the proclamation was adopted by the United Nations, human rights issues continue to persist in many parts of the world - and, as seriously, in the Philippines.

Early this month we learned that Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo left for Geneva to meet with officials of the Inter-Parliamentary Union to report cases of human rights abuses in the country.

He particularly cited the violence and personal attacks committed against local activists and journalists, and the inability of the government to "stop the killings of personalities critical of the Arroyo administration."

Ocampo, it may be noted, was one of the House members identified in the media as Batasan 5 who were placed under custody of the House of Representatives to prevent their arrest by the police for their alleged involvement in a plot to overthrow the government.

On July 24 when the Third Regular Session of the '13th Congress opens human rights victims will be led by Fr. Rolly de Leon in filing another impeachment complaint against President Arroyo.

De Leon said the complainants were holding the President "liable for the various cases of human rights violations committed against civilians all over the country."

This year alone, there have been 35 cases of human rights violations in the province of Bulacan, according to Fr. de Leon who is the parish priest of Norzagaray, that province.

These and other reported killings have been taken cognizance of by the Hong Kongbased Asian Human Rights Commission.

In fact, the commission, a regional non-government organization concerned with human rights, has already asked new Philippine National Police Director Oscar Calderon to exhaust all possible means to stop the relentless killings of human rights defenders and social activists. …

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