“Not only is this a fertile opportunity for Filipinos to discern and act on the peace platforms of national leaders, but it is also an essential time to continue the clamor for tangible efforts and concrete actions in building peace that addresses the roots of armed conflict.”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Marking the 18th anniversary of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), peace advocates called on both parties to implement the said agreement.
Signed on March, 16, 1998, CARHRIHL is the first substantive agreement between the Government of the Philippines (GPH – then called as the Government of the Republic of the Philippines or GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
The Citizen’s Alliance for Just Peace called “for a thorough and vibrant implementation of CARHRIHL as an essential building block of the peace process between the GPH and the NDFP.”
The alliance, composed of Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform, Pilgrims for Peace, Sulong CARHRIHL and Waging Peace Philippines, encouraged both parties to undertake “confidence-building measures, principled and innovative resolution of issues and impasses, as well as creative spaces that welcome and promote dynamic participation from the peace constituency.”
The advocates said the GPH, including political parties, election candidates and the electorate should prioritize the people’s peace agenda in the election process.
“Not only is this a fertile opportunity for Filipinos to discern and act on the peace platforms of national leaders, but it is also an essential time to continue the clamor for tangible efforts and concrete actions in building peace that addresses the roots of armed conflict,” Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez, Jr., Bishop Arturo Asi, Joeven Reyes and Beverly Orozco said in a statement.
Meanwhile, human rights alliance Karapatan assailed the Philippine government for not complying with the CARHRIHL, adding that all three administrations of Estrada, Arroyo, and Aquino were guilty of violating the agreement.
Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, said, “Human rights violations continue at an unprecedented rate even after the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship, when ‘democracy’ was supposedly restored. The same State machineries that perpetuate rights violations during the US-Marcos regime are still in place.” said.
Estrada, who signed the CARHRIHL, implemented an all-out war against the Moro people, resulting in the displacement of 500,000 families, cases of warrantless arrests, harassment of civilians, among others.
Under the nine-year Arroyo regime, Karapatan recorded 1,190 victims of extrajudicial killings 205 victims of enforced disappearances, 1,028 victims of torture, and hundreds of thousands were forcibly displaced in rural areas as a result of military operations.
Aquino’s administration is no different. Based on Karapatan’s monitoring from June 2010 until September 2015, there were 294 victims of extrajudicial killings, 28 victims of enforced disappearances, 172 victims of torture and over 63,000 victims of forced evacuation.
In April 2004, a Joint Monitoring Committee was set up https://www.bulatlat.com/news/4-11/4-11-jmc.html to ensure the compliance of both parties to CARHRIHL. The Joint Secretariat of both parties continues to receive complaints but has never been convened.
“The root causes of the continuing armed conflict remain and at its worst under the BS Aquino regime—the sell-out of national sovereignty, the landlessness, low wages, high cost of basic commodities and public services such as education, public transportation, and health services. Just like the past regimes, BS Aquino refused to address these issues and instead pacify the people’s clamor for peace, justice and change through state terrorism,” Palabay said.