Taiwan Committee for Philippine Concerns protests
Austronesian Forum 2007, calls for "Stop the Killings in the
of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) of the Philippines,
Mr. Eugenio Insigne, was met by an unexpected protest at the opening
ceremony of 2007 Austronesian Forum held in Taipei on December 11.
Immediately after the forum host introduced Mr. Insigne, a group
of protesters rose up and shouted "Philippines-Stop the Killings!!"
This protest was organized by Taiwan Committee for Philippine Concerns
(TCPC), a network of individual human rights defenders in Taiwan
concerned about the human rights situation in the Philippines. During
the protest inside the forum, TCPC members held photos of the victims
of extrajudicial killings and distributed statements among the audience
and the press. After a few minutes, TCPC protesters were forced
by the security to leave the conference hall. As the media followed
the protesters, TCPC took this opportunity to hold a brief press
conference outside the Austronesian Forum venue.
According to TCPC, the Austronesian Forum is initiated
by the Council of Indigenous Peoples of the Executive Yuan in Taiwan
to enhance the world's awareness and respect of indigenous people.
In August, 2007, the Palau Declaration was signed by representatives
from eight countries in the Pacific region. To uphold the human
rights of indigenous peoples is one of the goals specified by the
Forum for cooperation among Austronesian countries. Human rights
should be the ultimate concerns for Austronesian Forum, especially
for this year's conference, which was held right after the International
Human Rights Day. Ironically, TCPCemphasized, as a member of the
preparatory committee for the Austronesian Forum, the Philippine
government has been found responsible for appalling extrajudicial
killings and human rights violations!!
From January 2001 to July 31, 2007, at least 886
people have become victims of extrajudicial killings. Among them,
about 130 were indigenous peoples and 36 of them were from the Cordillera
region. Other than this, 179 people have become victims of enforced
disappearances to this day. No case has been solved and no single
perpetrator convicted despite evidence pointing to the accountability
of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the State.
Threats continue to haunt people's organizations
and institutions critical of government programs and policies are
branded as "sectoral front organizations" of the underground
revolutionary movement and thus targeted under the government's
counter-insurgency program called Oplan Bantay Laya II. The countryside
continues to be highly militarized because of this counter-insurgency
program and the imposition of the government's development agenda
which is highlighted with corporate destructive mining, agribusiness
and large dams in Northern Luzon.
The implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Law or
the Human Security Act of 2007 is a virtual declaration of Martial
Law with its provisions that run counter to the respect of our human
rights. It is in violation of the Bill of Rights in the Philippine
Constitution and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for
Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
As TCPC pointed out, many international human rights
organizations have already publicly condemned the Philippine government
for human rights violations. For example, the UN Special rapporteur
delivered a critical speech during the UN Commission on Human Rights
against the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. The report
mentioned that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the Philippine military
accountable for extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations
from 2001 to the present. Similarly, the US based Amnesty International's
report to the US Congress in March 2007, and the Permanent Peoples
Tribunal, held in the Netherlands last March 2007, both found the
Philippine government and military accountable for gross violations
of human rights of the Filipino people.
TCPC deplores the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Regime
for the extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and the
systematic violation of human rights. To uphold the human rights
of indigenous peoples in Austronesian countries, TCPC demands the
Austronesian Forum to denounce the series of human rights violation
in the Philippines.
One international delegate of the Austronesian Forum who followed
the TCPC protesters and joined the brief press conference said,
"December 10 is the International Human Rights Day. We should
be all concerned about human rights situation in other countries.
If there is any human rights violation, we should all speak up against
When interviewed by the press after the protest,
Mr. Eugenio Insigne said that the Philippine government will never
violate human rights, and if there is any case of human rights violation,
the Philippine government should immediately launch investigation.
Mr. Insigne requested to explain to TCPC as he believed there is
misunderstanding. However, TCPC responded that it is not necessary
for Mr. Eugenio to explain because many international human rights
organizations already found the Philippines government accountable
for the political killings. More importantly, TCPC believes that
if Mr. Eugenio sincerely cares about human rights of indigenous
peoples, he should stand up and demand the Philippine government
to stop the political killings, rather than constantly denying the
facts of human rights violation.#