Demanding for policies and government actions that uphold human rights, including social and economic rights, members of Buhay na may Dignidad para sa Lahat (DIGNIDAD) embarked today on a community workshop and walk dubbed as “Walk the Talk for a Life of Dignity for All.”
“The biggest war of the Duterte administration should be the war against poverty and inequality,” said Ana Maria Nemenzo, DIGNIDAD spokesperson, as she lambasted President Duterte’s war on drugs during DIGNIDAD’s activity in commemoration of Human Rights Week.
“More than 5,000 people have been killed and stripped of their rights and dignity by this administration’s war on drugs. Ironically, the victims of these extrajudicial killings come from mostly poor and marginalized sectors of society while big-time druglords, who have amassed wealth at the expense of the poor, remain untouched,” she said.
“We now actually have a situation where disregard for the political and civil rights of the poor has worsened inequality between the privileged and the marginalized”, she said. “Rich criminals remain rich and protected while suspected drug users and pushers – who themselves have been deprived of their social and economic rights that have resulted in their poverty and made them vulnerable to being preyed on by drug syndicates – are killed. And the children are left orphaned and made even more vulnerable to social realities.”
DIGNIDAD members in a workshop explained human rights and the realization of a life of dignity. Arguing that the approach to eradicating the drug problem and criminality must be overhauled, participants demanded that government programs and policies shift to measures that protect, respect and fulfill the broad range of human rights – civil and political rights as well as social and economic rights.
Nemenzo elaborated the need for the Duterte government to ensure social protection to each Filipino citizen. “The idea is to assure every citizen that she has adequate and comprehensive social protection and that each government agency, including all local government units (LGUs), must enable every Filipino to enjoy her basic rights and entitlements as a citizen.”
“No one should be allowed to fall on the wayside simply because she is poor, unemployed or displaced from work or uprooted by disasters or accidents. Every citizen must be able to enjoy a minimum level of social and economic protection, while it is the duty of the government to provide each citizen maximum opportunities for her advancement so that she can have a productive life with dignity,” she said.
DIGNIDAD demands 8 core programs that this government should finally address. According to them, these people’s proposals must be legislated, with constitutional support, institutionalised nationwide, and universalized.
These are: 1) Decent Work and Livelihood; 2) Decent and Affordable Housing, 3) Free and Quality Health Care; 4) Guaranteed water and electricity service; 5) Safe and Reliable Public Transport; 6) Free Education up to the Tertiary Level; 7) Safe, Adequate and Affordable Food; and 8) Living Pensions for all Senior Citizens and income support to persons with disabilities, unemployed, and calamity victims.
About 100 women, men, and youth from the North Triangle articulated these demands as they discussed their conditions and their appreciation of human rights. They expressed these through posters and visual representations, which they carried while walking towards Bantayog ng mga Bayani, where a noise barrage and candle lighting was held.