Human Rights Situation in the Philippines
January 13, 2017
By Sister Virgencita (Jenjen) Alegado
The 1987 Philippine Constitution is a rich repository of human rights. Article II, Section 2 states that the State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect of human rights. However, this remains an aspiration since our country has always been experiencing violations of human rights. Even before Martial Law years (1972-1986) there had been experiences of human rights violations, which worsened during Martial Law. The succeeding presidents did not improve this situation. People had high hopes for a change in the country with the election of Rodrigo Duterte to presidency last May 9, 2016. Since he assumed the office seven months ago, his two strong advocacies are on “war on drugs” and “anti- corruption.” There is a decreasing population of drug traders and users, but there is an increase on extrajudicial killings. Pushers, users and other forms of drug users or traders are either killed or rehabilitated. However, many are killed. There is no more due process of law.
Every single day, we hear reports of killings. In addition to the armed conflict happening between the rebels and the government, which killed many soldiers and rebels alike, extrajudicial killing is very rampant.
There is an ongoing debate on the revival of Death Penalty at the Congress now. There is a strong possibility that it will pass because that is what our president wants and many people at the Congress are his allies.
The Sisters of Mercy and the people we work with and for continually pray for the conversion of heart of the people behind this violence. Our schools in Lanao del Norte participated a week-long celebration of Mindanao Week of Peace with the theme “Respect and Protect Life.” One of our grade 10 students, Gabriel Rizalda, shared his reflection during the launch of the celebration held in Holy Cross High School gymnasium; he said that we can only have peace if we learn how to respect and protect life.
We continue to express our support to those who work in the protection of human rights in our different ministries. We also join with other religious groups through the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines in promoting life and denouncing the extrajudicial killings.