The world is celebrating the Human Rights Week as we go nearer to the International Human Rights Day. It was on the 10th of December 1948 in Paris, France when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Ironically, amidst the celebration is our government continually violating our rights to assemble and to express in the on-going campout of students, teachers and workers in Manila emulating the Occupy Wall Street Movement to protest not just the budgets cuts on basic social services but to rally for the change in the system.
Since Day 1, unarmed protesters – no guns, molotov cocktails, batters, sprays but only armed with passion for democracy and change and love for the country – have been violently dispersed by the police geared with guns, shields, truncheons and water cannons. The protesters just wanted to set a campout in Mendiola – a historical place of protest rallies where the Mendiola Massacre of the Cory Aquino administration took place. Yet, the Aquino administration has been blocking the protesters to move forward to Mendiola. The Aquino administration is seemingly afraid of the protesters that it uses violence against the latter. (And the biased idea – protesters start violence – by people advocating non-violent and enlightened activism is again debunked.)
Three were seriously injured – two are from UP and one is a worker. Five people, wherein four are PUP students, were arrested and charged of “inciting to sedition” and “violation of the Public Assembly Act of 1985”. Afterwards, UP President Alfredo Pascual denounced the violent dispersal and called for the immediate release of the arrested students.
“To prohibit such activities, and brand these as “seditious,” goes against the core principles of democracy, transparency and accountability which are central in President Aquino’s vision of Daang Matuwid and contrary to the call of the Aquino administration for active public participation in the governance of our country” (“UP President”, 2011)
The recent incidents show that the Aquino administration, as it unveils its true color, is NOT different from that of the Marcos regime and Arroyo regime. Why? Simply because there was only a change in leadership and not in the system (semi-feudal and semi-colonial with three basic problems: imperialism, bureaucrat capitalism and feudalism) which is the root cause of the Human Rights violations, poverty and corruption in the country. It is just like changing the collar of a dog but the owner remains the same.
That is why we must not see Human Rights violations as isolated cases but as effects or symptoms of the rotten system. (For example, women’s and LGBT rights violations are actually brought about by the patriarchal society.) With our society under a semi-colonial system, we are controlled by the U.S. imperialist though not directly. The U.S. then uses our government and the military to suppress those that question the system, harass those who have dissenting opinion, pacify protesters and kill those who they think are threat to the system. This is what we call “state fascism”. This, they do, to protect their interest on our country’s rich resources and also to protect the ruling classes who have been instrumental in their colonization.
Manifestations are these: U.S.-funded counter-insurgency programs since Marcos era (Oplan Lambat-Bitag (Cory Aquino), Oplan Bantay Laya (Arroyo), Oplan Bayanihan (PNoy Aquino), etc.) that have claimed thousands of innocent lives because the programs did not/do not distiguish an armed rebel and an unarmed protester or activist.
Another are the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Mutual Defense Treaty that allow American soldiers to have trainings and exercises in the country.
Even the budget cuts on basic social services like education and health, which are also violation of Human Rights, are due to the semi-colonial system. US-owned International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) where we borrow money from mandate our state to cut public spending and spend more on paying our debts and militarization; otherwise, we would no longer be qualified to borrow money from them. With this, we are more dependent to the imperialist U.S.
WARNING! This is your concern and everyone’s concern – students or not, scholars or not, UPians or non-UPians, partisans or non-partisans, old and young. It may be creepy but true that our government, the police and the military cannot or do not protect us as we expect them to do. They are usually even the violators of Human Rights, the perpetrators, and the perpetuators of injustices. And the injustice these days do not just happen to activists and journalists but also to normal and innocent people like you. You might be the next victim especially if you do nothing or remain silent.
To prevent it, there is only one way – resistance. How? We must Arouse everyone – ourselves, classmates, friends, families, and the masses – on the social issues and Organize so that afterwards, we will Mobilize collectively to change the system which is the root cause of our sufferings.
As long as the system remains, Human Rights violations, poverty and corruption continue. It is not yet time to celebrate but now is the time to assert our rights, exert all of our efforts to change the system at baliktarin ang tatsulok. Sawang-sawa ka na ba sa kahirapan? Change the system! Sawang-sawa ka na ba sa budget cuts? Change the system! Sawang-sawa ka na ba sa mga patayan? Change the system!
Change the system or else, the system will kill you.
“UP President calls for immediate release of arrested students”. University of the Philippines Website. 7 Dec 2011. University of the Philippines. 8 Dec 2011.
Photos by Tudla Productions and UP Kilos Na