By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Progressive groups denounced the Philippine government for abstaining from the United Nation’s call for an immediate humanitarian truce amid the increasing attacks of the Israel government on Gaza.
On Oct. 27, the United Nations General Assembly voted on a resolution calling for the “protection of civilians and upholding legal and humanitarian obligations.” The UN General Assembly also demanded that all parties “immediately and fully comply” with obligations under international humanitarian and human rights laws, “particularly in regard to the protection of civilians and civilian objects.”
The resolution also “urged the protection of humanitarian personnel, persons hors de combat, and humanitarian facilities and assets, and to enable and facilitate humanitarian access for essential supplies and services to reach all civilians in need in the Gaza Strip.”
“The Marcos government’s position yet again made clear that peddling US and Israel’s narratives are paramount to them over protecting the lives of thousands of civilians,” said Gabriela Secretary General Clarice Palce in a statement.
Palce added that “no amount of explanation can bury the fact that the Philippines refused to support a humanitarian resolution and legitimized genocide as a form of so-called right to self-defense of an imperialist-backed occupation state.”
The Philippines was among the 44-member states who abstained from the UN resolution.
Philippine Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN Antonio Lagdameo said that the resolution failed to mention and condemn the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel where thousands of Israeli including four Filipinos reportedly died.
A total of 121 voted in favor of the resolution while 14 were against it, including Israel and the U.S.
The Israeli forces have attacked Gaza since Oct. 7 resulting in the deaths of thousands of civilians. According to Gaza Ministry of Health, death toll has reached 7,028 including 2,913 minors. Latest news reports also revealed that the Israeli forces have launched ground operations in the Gaza strip reportedly to “destroy the enemy,” which is the Hamas.
For supporters of the Palestinian people, however, the Israeli forces are not only going against Hamas but also against civilians.
‘Right to self-defense?’
In defending the Philippines abstention, Lagdameo said that it recognizes Israel’s right to self-defense.
But Palce said, “Genocide is not self-defense. Israel, with help from the United States, has been committing war crimes and various violations to international resolutions and humanitarian laws since it began its occupation of Palestine territories in 1948.”
Palce argued that, “To claim that this is mere retaliation for the Oct. 7 incident is to deny the brutal history of ethnic cleansing and dispossession to which the Israeli Occupation Forces has subjected millions of Palestinians in the last seven decades.”
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers also said that so-called right to self-defense “are not supported by international law and remain as hollow now as it was when Zionists first began uprooting communities to create the State of Israel.”
“No amount of legal gymnastics by either Israel or the US can change the fact that Israel is an occupying power with an apartheid regime. Neither country can legitimately claim self-defense as an argument to justify wave after wave of war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated against the Palestinian people,” the NUPL said.
“What’s more, both countries’ lip service to human rights and the ‘rules-based order’ are betrayed as hypocrisies in light of their rejection of growing demands for a ceasefire, the lifting of the siege of Gaza, and for Israeli forces to stop targeting civilians and respect human rights and international humanitarian law,” the group added.
Stand with the Palestinians
People around the world have stood in solidarity with the Palestinian people by going out in the streets calling for a ceasefire. Thousands went out of the streets in major cities in London, Istanbul, New York, Baghdad and Rome on Oct. 28, Saturday.
Migrante International in a statement meanwhile said that they “join the international community in demanding that the Israel government declare a ceasefire and open Rafah crossing.”
“It should let all humanitarian aid enter Gaza. It should let overseas Filipino workers and other foreigners in the area leave and be repatriated to their countries,” the group said in a statement.
The group added that the Philippines should have voted in favor of the humanitarian truce for OFWs trapped in Gaza.
Migrante International said there are 78 OFWs who have been evacuated to the Southern Gaza’s border with Egypt while 54 are in Gaza. “In triggering Hezbollah to attack from Lebanon, it is also placing in danger the lives of the more than 30,000 OFWs in Israel and 17,500 OFWs in Lebanon,” the group added.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) also called on the Filipino people to support the call for ceasefire, protection of the civilians as well as the delivery of aid.
The group said that Filipinos should also raise their voice and be heard.
“There are many similarities between Filipinos and Palestinians. We both have a history of fighting against colonialism. We both want a prosperous life with freedom, democracy and peace. We are both fighting for human rights. But there is no genuine peace without justice. There is no genuine freedom and democracy if there is a foreign power that rules over the country and oppresses the people,” the group said in a statement.” (RVO)