How can the government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines claim that it respects human rights when human rights defenders themselves are being the target of attack? How can there be claims of “change” when the lives of the majority remain the same, and even getting worse, and those who defend the rights of the poor and the oppressed are still being treated as “enemies of the state”?
Human rights defenders may feel that threats to their lives are par for the course but certainly this is not what is expected from a supposed democracy. Rather, this shows that despite the fanfare following the May 10 automated elections, the sorry state of human rights in the country – that was the source of political embarrassment of the previous Arroyo administration – remains the same. Not surprising though, as President Benigno Aquino III has not made any firm policy statement or bold political act that would reverse the worsening human rights situation in the country.