All nations and peoples around the world praise and uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR was drafted by “representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world.” The Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 (General Assembly resolution 217 A) “as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected and it has been translated into over 500 languages.”
There are 30 articles of the UDHR, but the first 3 articles are enough to argue that in the Philippines, the struggle of for the protection of human rights must be beyond human rights. It must be a struggle for people’s democratic rights.
The first 3 articles of UDHR are:
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.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
The provisions speak of the rights of every human being in a supposedly “independent and liberated nation,” a nation that is free from foreign domination and control.
In the Philippines, however, human rights cannot be enjoyed by every individual as this country has been controlled and dictated by the world superpowers, especially the United States (US) and recently China. These imperialist countries use foreign policies, agreements, aids, loans and local laws to advance their interests over weak and underdeveloped countries.
Assertion of upholding of human rights in the Philippines is a futile struggle if it will not be based on the struggle of the Filipino people for national liberation and democracy. It is because the Philippines has not been fully “liberated” from the clutches of its former colonial master, the US.
When the Philippines was “liberated” from the United States on July 4, 1946, the United States see to it that the Philippines will always be its subservient country. The foreign policy of the Philippines was drafted based on the dictates of the US. The US-Philippines agreements, the access of the Philippines in getting loans from the International Monetary Funds (IMF) and World Bank (WB), the local laws for investments, trades, navigations, commerce—all of these have been thought of, crafted and implemented without harm to the interests of the US. Thus, the Philippines became a neo-colonial state. It became a neo-colony of the US.
When the Philippines participates in any regional and worldwide social, political, economic and cultural associations or organizations, the United States is always the reference. All agreements entered by the Philippines, the approval of the United States has been always considered and sought.
It is in this context that the struggle of the Filipino people for the protection of human rights must be understood and carried out. The struggle for human rights in the Philippines is a struggle for national liberation and democracy. The struggle of every human being as farmer, worker, teacher, employee, student, indigenous persons or national minority, woman, child, jobless or homeless persons, for its respective human rights is just a palliative struggle if it will not be anchored on the struggle of the Filipino people for full and total independent nation. First and foremost, the struggle for the people’s democratic rights is the struggle for genuine independence of the Philippines.
The call for the upholding of human rights in the Philippines at present is the call for continuing struggle for national liberation and democracy. The struggle for human rights is the struggle for the rights of the peasants for land and agricultural assistance. It is also the struggle of the workers for permanent job and other benefits. It is the struggle of the urban poor for land, shelter, job and protection. It is a struggle of the Filipinos for their democratic rights.
The struggle for human rights in the Philippines has relevance on the recognition that there is an armed conflict between the government and the revolutionary forces. The armed conflict is not only a matter of insurgency problem, which the Duterte regime like the previous regimes had treated it. Armed conflict in the Philippines is a status of a civil war and the government will do well to address it from its root causes.
But like all previous regimes unable to contain discontent and social unrest from poverty, fascism is the way to regain control. There is Martial Law in Mindanao and se facto Martial Law nationwide. The Talaingod 74 incident is an example of how ludicrous government authorities have become in pursuit of silencing critics and activists. The extrajudicial killings, massacres, forced evacuation, bombings, illegal arrest and detention of activists and other human rights violations are pictures of this fascist regime. Thus, the struggle for human rights is a struggle to expose and oppose the fascist regime of Rodrigo Duterte.
The plan to extend the Martial Law in Mindanao, the Memorandum Order 32 that supposedly will stop “lawless violence” in Negros, Samar and Bicol, the proposal to shutdown social media accounts and websites ‘inimical to national interest,’ the Red October plot, the plan to form death squads that will hunt down ‘suspected rebels,’ all of these and more are fascist attacks against the people and surely their human rights are violated. These are subjects of condemnation in the commemoration of the UDHR and observance of International Human Rights Day on December 10, 2018.