The members of CONTEND today join all our patriotic people and progressive people’s organization in marching to the streets to protest and to resist the intensifying violations of human rights perpetrated against human rights defenders, Lumad students and their teachers, the Lumad communities, members of urban poor communities, peace consultants and advocates, church workers who pursue just and lasting peace under the current US-China Duterte Administration.
As teachers, who are bound to teach human rights, who have the duty to defend human rights against state terrorism, we are dismayed by the recent United Nations report which names the Philippines as one of the countries whose governments subject human rights defenders and activists to “an alarming and shameful level of harsh reprisals and intimidation”.
Today we express our disquiet against the irresponsible statements of our misogynist fascist President that some of our fellow Filipinos deserve to die especially the poor suspected drug users and pushers because they do not have rights. The poor get the bullets while the accused plunderers like Imelda Marcos and Bong Revilla get to roam freely. We are disgusted by President Duterte’s threats and tongue-lashings against human rights advocates whom he labeled as “terrorists” and communist sympathizers.
The reign of terror under the tyrannical rule of Duterte has enabled and emboldened the repressive state agents to harass legitimate people’s organizations, to propagate red-tagging of universities, to close Lumad schools, and to arrest peace consultants by charging them with fabricated cases.
As educators, we express strong condemnation against the arrest of our fellow public-school teacher, Rep. France Castro of Alliance of Concerned Teachers Partylist (ACT) in Davao del Norte, in her effort to provide relief to the Lumad students who were harassed by military and para-military groups. This attack against Rep. Castro and her companions is a flagrant scheme of state forces to silence the critics of government. Our government has already denied the right of Lumad to free education. Now it intends even to close the schools.
The state-sponsored terrorism is made more monstrous by President Rodrigo Duterte’s Memorandum Order No. 32 ordering the deployment of more troops to parts of the Visayas and the Bicol region. From May 23, 2017 to November 30, 2018, with the imposition of martial in Mindanao, Karapatan has documented 88 individuals killed by soldiers, police and paramilitary groups, and 128 victims of frustrated killings. At least 1,450 have been illegally arrested; while a least 148 individuals are being harassed with trumped-up criminal charges. Memorandum Order No. 32, which extends martial law geographically beyond Mindanao, will no doubt translate to more human rights violations. And now the military are dashing to extend martial law in Mindanao for another year. These military maneuvers are sinister tactics to suppress people’s growing restiveness in Mindanao, especially among the Lumad and landless peasants, to pave the way for the smooth and unbroken entry of transnational corporations to the resource-rich region.
In the face of this ghastly state fascism, we, members of CONTEND, will not be intimated. We will not recoil from teaching “rebellious ideas” about human rights to our students. Historically, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and The Citizen in 1878, as the aftermath of the glorious bourgeois French Revolution, led to the fall of monarchy and feudalism. So today, as teachers, we urge all our fellow educators to stand our ground in defending human rights against Duterte’s tyranny. If we will not defend and uphold human rights now, our nation will be at the mercy of those who wield power and who rule with uncontested impunity.
Uphold human rights!
Defend human rights against state fascism!
Justice to all victims of human rights violations!
End martial law in Mindanao now!
Stop harassing human rights defenders and advocates!
Free all political prisoners!
Free Rey Claro Casambre and Patricia Cora Casambre!
No to Duterte’s Memorandum Order No. 32!
Stop militarization of Lumad communities!