After 31 years,
people still clamor for fundamental change - Karapatan
February 25, 2017
QUEZON CITY –
Targeted political killings, the slate of illegal arrests of leaders
and members of progressive organizations, intensified military
operations in communities, a justice system that favors the rich and
powerful, the continuing oppression of peasants and workers and the
domination of US interests in the country remain as palpable
realities, thirty one years after Edsa 1.
Has this country really
achieved change when repressive state policies continue? Have we
really seen change when farmers remain landless, rights continue to be
violated, and the Filipino people’s interest remain subjugated to
imperialist powers?" asked Karapatan secretary general Cristina
Palabay on the 31st commemoration of the EDSA people power.
"What we have seen in the
years following the Marcos dictatorship are forms of repression,
masked under the banner of democracy. Killings in the name of the war
on drugs, the possible reimposition of the death penalty, the revival
of the Philippine Constabulary and the military's involvement in the
war on drugs under the Duterte administration are more recent
worrisome issues," she stated.
"Scores of activists and
revolutionaries who work for radical change continue to be targeted
and the number of political prisoners remains on the rise," Palabay
Karapatan has documented 402
political prisoners in the country as of February 2017, 30 of them
arrested under Duterte and 283 under BS Aquino III. "Even this
practice of jailing activists and political dissenters has continued
throughout the administrations after Marcos, tolerated and enabled by
people who, given recent developments, are now at the end of this
repressive State maneuver," said Palabay.
Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile’s
statement that there are no political prisoners is not surprising,
coming from the mouthpiece of government narratives since Martial Law.
"His efforts to delegitimize the struggles of activists and
progressives through these kinds of statements are classic examples of
the elite's disdain for genuine change. His release on the basis of
humanitarian grounds should have been accorded to the people who most
deserve it – the political prisoners who have fought hard alongside
the marginalized in this country," Palabay said.
Karapatan also recounted
that the conferment of hero's honors on former dictator Ferdinand
Marcos Sr. is a betrayal of what the EDSA "people power" stood for.
"The Filipino people toppled a dictator but the Supreme Court and
Pres. Duterte allowed him a hero’s burial. On the other hand, the
victims of the Marcos dictatorship have yet to be indemnified and the
Marcos’ stolen wealth yet to be returned. This can only be the result
of the shameless accommodation of the ruling elite to stay in power,’
Aside from allowing a hero’s
burial for Marcos, Duterte also cancelled the peace talks on February
3, 2017, ramped up the implementation of counter-insurgency program
Oplan Kapayapaan with the military's declaration of an all-out-war,
and subsequently terminated the Joint Agreement on Security and
Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). "Duterte won with his catchphrase 'change
is coming.' We should thus demand and protest the Duterte
administration's unfulfilled promises. We strongly call on the
President to stop the fascist attacks against the people and to
continue the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the
Philippines,’ Palabay added.
"EDSA 1 showed how a
dictator was ousted through the people's collective strength and
actions. As long as interests of imperialists, landlords and political
clans continue to dominate, there is no doubt that the people will
continue to struggle in all forms to achieve fundamental change,"