As the ranks of victims of human rights violations under the Arroyo administration continue to grow, their families, survivors of rights abuses and rights advocates had formed HUSTISYA, or justice, which they vowed will tirelessly fight until justice is served.
BY FRED VILLAREAL
Gitnang Luson News Service
Posted by Bulatlat.com
Dr. Constancio “Chandu” Claver, wore a grim face as he rose slowly to speak before an assembly of some 500 human rights violations victims, rights advocates and activists. His left arm was wrapped in bandages and hung on a sling. “I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to work again.”
Claver sustained his injury when he and his wife Alyce, also a doctor, were ambushed in front of St. Toni’s College in Tabuk province in the morning of July 31. Alyce sustained 26 bullet wounds and died after a few hours at the Kalinga Provincial Hospital. The perpetrators were suspected military men.
“The assassins kill with impunity,” he said. And because the suspected perpetrators are government troops, victims and their families had no one to turn to. “Hopelessness will turn to lethargy and apathy, and this is what the Arroyo regime wants to happen.”
Chandu, who is widely presumed to be the main target of the attack, holds key positions in the Kalinga chapters of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), Bayan Muna (People First), and Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC). Alyce was also a CPA activist in her younger days and remained a staunch supporter of CPA, Bayan Muna, and her husband’s militancy even when he began receiving death threats.
Claver was among the victims who presented testaments at the assembly launching of HUSTISYA, or Victims of Arroyo Regime United for Justice, on Sept.15, at the Claro M. Recto Auditorium of the Faculty Center of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
HUSTISYA, or justice, aims to organize the families of victims of human rights violations under the regime of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, strive for a stronger united voice and to seek justice in and outside of the country.
Human rights group Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) had reported 752 victims of political killings and 184 victims of forced disappearances under the Arroyo regime. This is on top of other acts of political repressions such as massacres, tortures and many other acts directed against the masses working for their legitimate rights.
Evan Hernandez, HUSTISYA spokesperson, said she marked the group’s launching as a historic day in her life, as she is united with other families of victims who will work until justice is served for their loved ones. Hernandez’s daughter, human rights worker and campus journalist Benjaline, was killed in Davao province in 2002 by Army men who claimed there was an encounter. Fact-finding reports, however, proved that Benjaline and two others were unarmed and surrendering when they were killed.
Claver said the survivors, as well as the families of victims had not fallen to lethargy and apathy, and challenged the media and other sectors to also commit themselves to fight the widespread injustice.
The assembly drew the support of pro-people legislators such as Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna and Rafael Mariano of Anak Pawis. Peoples organizations such as Karapatan, Mothers and Relatives of Martyrs, Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Pamalakaya. Gabriela, Kadamay, Health Alliance for Democracy and students of UP and Miriam College.
Senator Jamby Madrigal, who also attended the assembly said the continuous birth of human rights groups in the country is a testament that our human rights is continuously being desecrated.
Labor advocate Amado “Gat” Inciong said that the Arroyo regime “has failed to deliver what’s due our people, and her’s is a government for and by American imperialism.”
The assembly delegates marched from the Faculty Center to the UP Administration Building, where they lit candles that spelled “hustisya.” Gitnang Luson News Service/Posted by Bulatlat