Human Rights Day: Disband the CAFGU, Dismantle the Military

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Photos taken during the Human Rights Day People’s March to Mendiola led by KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights, December 10, 2012.

If the Armed Forces of the Philippines and paramilitary groups have no other purpose but to kill the poor while eating up the biggest pie in the Filipino people’s national budget, better disband and dismantle them.

This is a public sentiment and not just a personal proposal to President Benigno Aquino.

The President said through his spokesperson that his office frowns on extra-judicial killings and is even emphatic about it. He further stated that even his own family is a victim of human rights abuse. In other words, he wanted to tell those who lost their loved one: “I know the feeling”.

Is the feeling the same when his father’s murder was bore out of political rivalry and conflict of the elite while the political killing of ordinary people is bore out of national policy to silence them or let them remain in the pit of darkness so the elite may sleep in bed of roses?

While he is in the position to dare himself and become revolutionary (as his mother claimed to dare during her presidency), President Noynoy however prides of the AFP as having recently learnt the ABCs of respect to human rights through manuals and trainings. But he remains the commander-in-chief who distributes among toy soldiers the Oplan Bayanihan Manual, an anti-insurgency campaign that extends its target to civilian farmers, indigenous people and environmental defenders. Such policy is only another sequel of mercenary tradition of the military since colonial occupation.

Farmers from Southern Tagalog walked 350 kilometers to join the Human Rights Day march to Mendiola. Lumad, Moros and missionaries from Mindanao travelled a thousand more kilometer to post notice of closure to central offices of mining corporations due to crimes committed to indigenous people. Sectoral formations from the National Capital Region welcomed them in the street but not the police who were ready to assault at Recto Avenue, closing the way for the march to push through Mendiola Bridge.

One hour face-to-face of the people and the PNP ensued. I bet some from the police who have a human-chamber left were stirred by the simultaneous speech acts by Lumad women about how the military and paramilitary groups killed their husband and children and displaced their communities. Mining companies offer them money from time to time but they would rather fight for their land until the end. Culturally, indigenous people are not just caretakers of the land but are warriors too.

And as mass leader Orly Marcellana put it, marchers get tired too of parliament. Armand Abarillo was one.

Watch Street Performance by Manilakbayan Participants

Speech by Sis. Stella Matutina, OBF on Stop the Killings and Large-Scale Mining

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About Joanna Lerio

cultural journalist, multidisciplinary artist, educator, traveller, dreamer, yogini, vegetarian, advocate
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