Pilosopong Tibak Kasi!
By Sensei Adorador
The P1,000 budget for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is a big slap in the face to the Filipino people who voted for individuals they believed to be leaders that would uplift the country.
The budget allotted for CHR is tantamount to its abolition. How can a government office survive on P1,000? That is a one-week allowance for a college student, or one month’s rent at a board house, or one happy hour at Gorka.
At some point, the votes of these 119 congressional representatives will reveal itself to be driven by self-interest, in order to please their “boss.” Commonly referred to as “papogi,” their vote merely indicates support for the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
CHR was established in 1986, under the administration of former President Corazon Aquino. It was considered a watchdog and protector of human rights from abuses by the military, police, and other entities that caused trauma during the administration of former President Ferdinand Marcos – considered the “dark age” in Philippine society.
Aquino’s government amended the Constitution and added Article XIII, Sec. 17, which created CHR; which fell under Article II, Sec. 11, where it stated: “The state values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights.”
Additionally, Article III of the Bill of Rights declares the Constitution is obligated to protect a Filipino citizen’s rights and privileges.
Human life is vital in society and, as much as possible, we do not want to pave the way for fascism and allow abuses to take place in our everyday lives.
As political theorist Hannah Arendt coined it, “the banality of evil.”
History of Abuses
Human rights abuses ran rampant during the Spanish era, as seen in the writings of Jose Rizal. Filipinos were denied their rights when the Philippines was under Spanish colonial rule.
In those days, the Guardia Civil were the abusers – much like today’s police officers. They had the power to impose penalties for violations of the law. They could also arrest based purely on suspicion, and the Spanish colonial government did not stop them from using torture techniques to gather intelligence – they could also kill suspects if they put up a fight.
Human rights were also denied based on racial discrimination, with the Spaniards referring to Filipinos as “indios” and considered them an inferior race. Friars of the day were today’s politicians. They were corrupted by power and used their position for their advantage.
After 333 years of Spanish rule, the Americans, who call themselves “friends” of the Filipinos, committed numerous human rights abuses. One of the most famous was the Balangiga massacre. Sometimes referred to as the “Howling of the Wilderness,” American troops slaughtered hundreds of Filipinos, including children.
There was also the First Battle of Bud Dajo, where the United States killed hundreds of Moros, during the ethnic group’s rebellion in 1906.
The Japanese occupation of the Philippines also left traces of abuse, from the countless rapes to the innumerable mass murders and cases of torture.
Then- Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines Jose Abad Santos was shot after swearing allegiance to the Philippine flag, Brigadier General Vicente Lim was beheaded alongside 50 guerillas, and Girl Scouts of the Philippines founder Josefa Llanes-Escoda was decapitated for supplying food and medicine to Filipino and American war prisoners.
When Marcos came to power, the Philippine Constabulary and the Philippine Constabulary Metropolitan Command (Metrocom), which committed many human rights abuses, also rose to prominence.
The brilliant Edgar Jopson died at the hands of the military while fighting for the rights of the poor and oppressed; the same goes for Dr. Roberto De la Paz, a doctor who served poor barrios. Tribe leader Macli-ing Dulag, who opposed the construction of the Chico River Dam had his house sprayed with bullets by government troops.
Lastly, there were also the martyrs of the Escalante Massacre, were killed while fighting for the rights of oppressed sacadas, or plantation workers.
If Rizal were still alive today and witnessed our idiotic politicians, he would surely write another satirical novel targeting politicians – lapdogs of administration.
The cycle of violence is nothing new, but Filipinos have a syndrome of being forgetful.
Does history repeat itself? That is a weeping boy statement. History does not repeat itself, what is repetitive is us. If we can stop repeating history and get to know it, then, one day, we can liberate ourselves from it./WDJ