Group vows anew to defend human rights

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MANILA, Dec. 11, 2015 – The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) has vowed to renew its commitment to the “defense of human rights” and for an “end to impunity” in line with the celebration of the “Human Rights Day” Thursday, Dec. 10.

“In Genesis 1:26-27, humans are created in God’s image. When rights are denied and violated, the divine image within the human person is violated and the dignity that it confers diminished,” it explains in a recent statement.

NCCP expresses lament that up to now human rights violations in the Philippines go on unpunished.

“We have seen the culture of impunity persist in our country, where those who engage in extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, torture, and other grave human rights abuses are not investigated or brought before the bar of legal justice. Worse, some of them are even promoted,” it notes.

Continuing violations

It further bemoans that none of the extrajudicial killings that occurred under the Arroyo administration have been addressed, despite promises from the current president.

“Rather we have witnessed continued incidents of gross human rights violations, including extrajudicial killing, and a continued perpetuation of the culture of impunity,” it shares.

NCCP also bewails that indigenous peoples (IPs) and environmental defenders have increasingly become victims of human rights violators when they are only defending their ancestral lands from development aggression.

“Meanwhile the military promotes paramilitary groups to go against their own tribes and employs the tired argument that indigenous peoples are supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA).

‘Humanity’s gift to self’

The ecumenical group goes on to underscore its belief that human rights are “humanity’s gift to itself” resulting from people’s struggle throughout history for abundant life, enshrined in laws and international instruments.

Echoing the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), NCCP points out that recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.

According to the group, because of UDHR, nations have come to profess the inherent dignity and inalienable rights of each person which the Bible had long made clear.

Righteousness, justice

“As we launch out into the deep for justice and peace in our struggle to defend human rights and end impunity, we pledge to continue our work in proclaiming the divine image within in every person and in protecting the human dignity that being created in the image of God confers. We are creatures of a God who “loves righteousness and justice” (Psalm 33:5),” it adds.

Moreover, NCCP calls on its member to:

    • Support the work of “Confronting Challenges on Human Rights Defenders in the Philippines” a project funded by the European Union, under the leadership of the NCCP.
    • Open our churches and church communities as sanctuaries for victims of human rights violations.
    • Conduct human rights education among our constituents.
    • Continue to engage the United Nations Human Rights Council in demanding the Philippine government to honor its commitments to international human rights standards and instrumentalities even as the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review on the Philippines will be held in the first half of 2017. (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)

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