Salvaging Human Rights
Despite several administration changes in the last three decades, there has not been any significant improvement in the human rights situation in the Philippines. Extra-judicial killings (EJKs), illegal arrests and detention, and threats and harassment of political activists and journalists continue unabated due to long-standing counter-insurgency programs and the worsening culture of impunity. For victims and their families, the years have dragged on painfully without justice. And now, by the thousands, drug suspects have also fallen victim to blatant human rights violations under the Duterte administration’s “war on drugs.”
Human rights, however, has suffered in the same period from lack of understanding and appreciation by many Filipinos. Thus, powerful actors are able to capitalize on the dismal human rights records of their political opponents to absolve themselves of crimes related to human rights violations, past and present.
Much of the discussion on human rights have also ignored socio-economic and cultural rights—such as the right to education, right to housing, right to adequate standard of living, right to health, and right to culture and self-determination. Thus, the Filipino masses, though facing various forms of human rights violations in their daily lives, fail to see these as rights violations.
#SalvagingHumanRights is an education and awareness-raising initiative to “salvage” or rescue and reclaim the concept of “human rights” from lack of understanding and appreciation due to the desensitization and cynicism brought about by the culture of impunity for the past several decades of which the Philippine government has been ultimately responsible. The initiative aims to present the human rights situation in a fresh perspective, a perspective that will connect the concept of human rights to the everyday lives of the Filipino masses, with the aim of building among the general public the sense of necessity of a strong human rights movement that involves their welfare, and ultimately, participation.
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