On Human Rights Day, group scores Aquino for continued failure to uphold rights

President Benigno S. Aquino III receives the Exemplar in Government Service Award from Bulong Pulungan Media Forum co-founder and moderator Deedee Siytangco, co-founders Julie Yap-Daza, Rina Jimenez-David and Joanne Ramirez during the 28th annual Bulong Pulungan Christmas Party at the Luzon Ballroom of the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila in CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City on Friday (December 05). Eight other public servants were awarded during the event. The Bulong Pulungan media forum started 28 years ago on the onset of People Power by the country’s leading lifestyle journalists. (MNS photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III receives the Exemplar in Government Service Award from Bulong Pulungan Media Forum co-founder and moderator Deedee Siytangco, co-founders Julie Yap-Daza, Rina Jimenez-David and Joanne Ramirez during the 28th annual Bulong Pulungan Christmas Party at the Luzon Ballroom of the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila in CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City on Friday (December 05). Eight other public servants were awarded during the event. The Bulong Pulungan media forum started 28 years ago on the onset of People Power by the country’s leading lifestyle journalists. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) — On Human Rights Day Wednesday, a human rights group gave President Benigno Aquino III yet another failing grade for his leadership in human rights.

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) said the lack of a National Human Rights Action Plan allowed corporate-backed impunity.

Such impunity has in turn led to adverse impact on the environment and climate change, PAHRA said in a statement.

“Impunity lurks even amidst the typhoons and disasters,” said PAHRA chairman Max de Mesa, referring to what he called mining areas in Manicani, Samar and in Marinduque.

“Resistance against these increasing violations and destruction, as well as struggles for a life with dignity and full human development will not be an option, but an imperative,” he added.

Favoring mining firms?

De Mesa said that when Aquino visited Manicani in Leyte Gulf instead of Tacloban City last November, he marked the effort of mining firm Nickel Asia Corp.

Nickel Asia had helped build some 400 houses for victims of super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), which left 6,300 dead when it lashed the Visayas last year.

“Nothing has been mentioned of the impunity of the mining companies that came to the island that destroyed people’s fishing grounds and water sources, and violated the people’s economic and social rights,” de Mesa said.

“Impunity has been layered over,” he added.

On the other hand, he cited the continuing threat to 87,000 people from a toxic pond “in imminent danger of collapsing” left by Marcopper in Marinduque.

Impunity vs. civil, political rights

On the other hand, PAHRA secretary general Rose Trajano lamented impunity against civil and political rights are usually rooted in impunity against economic, social and cultural rights.

Trajano cited cases of farmer, indigenous and labor leaders who fell victim to extrajudicial killings.

“The health of thousands, including children and other vulnerable people, are at grave risk with the increased building of coal plants, the source of dirty energy.  Production of dirty energy from coal is only profitable to a handful of elite business people but will, in the long run, wreak havoc to the people and the planet,” she said.  (MNS)

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