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News :: Human Rights
Philippines: Alarming incidents of political violence related to 2016 polls
by Akbayan (Citizens Action Party)
20 Oct 2015
Modified: 09:13:22 AM
Akbayan Party-List condemns in the strongest terms possible the recent spate of political violence In what seems to be a prelude to the coming May 2016 elections, involving elected officials and others running for public office.
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Recently two re-electionist mayors in Sibugay and Agusan del Sur provinces were killed in an ambush with the latter abducted before being found dead with his son. According to reports, both deaths were politically motivated and perpetrated by armed groups.
Akbayan calls particular attention to the heinousness of the murder of the Agusan del Sur mayor from Loreto, as there is no justification whatsoever to involve a son with special needs in the violence.
The series of killings happened in less than a week after the official filing of candidacies for elective national and local posts.
Sadly, violence remains a staple feature of Philippine elections with watchdogs such as the International Observers Mission of the COMPACT for Peaceful and Democratic Elections reporting at least 39 assassinations/shooting incidents in 2009-2010 as well as dozens of cases of bombings, strafing, harassments, abductions and summary executions nationwide.
A total of 153 individuals were killed and 37 hurt in the incidents monitored by the COMPACT during the 2010 elections. The most high profile of these was the Maguindanao Massacre which to this day remains languishing in the judicial mill.
In 2013, PNP reported 58 ERVs, 51 of which were shootings. In that year 35 people were killed and 34 wounded. These tallies are by no means complete as other killings and intimidation do not even get media coverage or reported to the police.
This cycle must stop. Akbayan calls upon our security forces to conduct a thorough investigation of the incidents and stop the political killings leading to the May 2016 elections making it free from violence and intimidation.
The best way to ensure that such incidents do not occur is by ensuring impartial investigations lead to justice. The resolution of politically-motivated and electoral-related violence must be pursued, and yield convictions. This is the only way to send the signal to desperate trapos and extremist forces that impunity has no place in our democracy, and that the power of an informed choice must be upheld at all times.
Further, Akbayan reiterates its call for the dismantling of private armed groups in the country and for passing a law that will penalize those who will intimidate voters through coercion, violence and extortion through the so-called "permits to campaign."
These methodologies are anathema to democracy, and their perpetrators are backward agents of chaos and death that should be behind bars, and not trying to assert their influence in the people’s rights to choose their leaders freely and without fear of reprisal.
Akbayan vows to win more reforms for people
2016 offers another crossroad for the Filipino people. It is crucial that a critical, informed choice be offered to the people in choosing a party-list on their ballot. Akbayan offers itself once again as a proven vehicle for the articulation, advocacy and achievement of people’s aspirations for a brighter future by contesting the party-list elections in 2016.
Akbayan has successfully demonstrated that in a conducive environment abetted by a broad reform constituency as offered by Daang Tuwid, the impossible becomes attainable. Legislation that once seemed out of reach had been enacted, with Akbayan at the forefront of campaigning for their passage:
- Reproductive Health Law which offers families and women with the information and choices that will enable them to pursue healthy futures;
- Cheaper Medicines Law which seeks to help bring down the cost of medications;
- SK Reform Law which strengthens youth councils and bans dynasties from controlling them; Fair Competition Law which will protect smaller companies and enable them to compete even with large conglomerates;
- Martial Law Human Rights Violations Compensation Law which finally recognizes the excesses of the state and compensates victims of abuses during the Marcos dictatorship;
- Milk Code which promotes breastfeeding which protects mothers and their children’s health.
Akbayan further proved its strength in taking to the streets to campaign and win peoples’ struggles: we investigated the issue of women OFWs abused in Saudi Arabia and successfully removed the corrupt officials who pimped them; protested the incursions of China in the West Philippine Sea; successfully lobbied Mercury drugstore to honor the 20% discount for PWDs; and after more than 10 years of working with all stakeholders, was finally able to push for the removal of the Pandacan Oil Depot facilities.
Akbayan which primarily authored the CARPER Law was able to win with farmers in their struggle to claim, occupy and finally till their lands and defended the right of informal settler families to safe and decent housing.
Yet at the same time, there remain a lot of work to be done. Akbayan vows to push for the Freedom of Information Act for transparency in government, Security of Tenure to promote job security among workers, and Land Use Act to rationalize the use of land resources to ensure sustainable development and for disaster risk reduction.
There are also still those forces of regression and anti-reform lurking in the shadows on the path to progress who threaten to derail and diminish the gains of the people’s victories.
Akbayan thus offers the decades’ worth of combined expertise and dedication of its nominees as an antidote to the politics of patronage and corruption that such forces represent: Mindanaoan and local governance reform champion Tom Villarin; pro-poor lawyer and human rights advoc
ate Barry Gutierrez, women’s advocate and labor leader Angie Katoh; youth leader Paeng David; former local government official Doris Obena, women’s leader Mylene Hega and farmer leader Ka Cenon Nolasco.
Grounded, grassroots and genuinely pro-people, Akbayan’s nominees will continue to fight to bring the enemies of reform to justice, while at the same time asserting the people’s rightful place in Daang Matuwid. It is with this renewed vigor and resolve that Akbayan vows to capture the most number of seats in 2016 and together with the masses, claim more victories.
This work is in the public domain