Amnesty International calls on President elect Aquino to focus attention on Mindanao

Amnesty International Philippines launched in Pagadian City reports on human rights and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): 

“Amnesty International Report 2010 State of the World’s Human Rights Report” and the “From Promises to Delivery, Putting Human Rights at the Heart of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)”. The first report documents human rights violations in 159 countries and territories worldwide while the second is a 60 page report focusing  on three main issues – gender equality, maternal health and slums  and provides examples of how the MDGs and the targets set fall short of international human rights standards.
Amnesty International is now on its 2nd city in the Mindanao leg of the 8-city report launch tour to share its report to the widest possible audiences in the Philippines
From Zamboanga City, we bring with us here in Pagadian City our reports on human rights and the MDGs. These reports expose evidences of repression, injustice, oppression and poverty in ious parts of the world. We want to highlight abuses that worsen the situation of the poor and the marginalized particularly here in Mindanao where six (6) of the ten (10) poorest provinces in the country are located,” said Dr. Aurora A. Parong, Section Director of Amnesty International Philippines.
These two reports come at a time when the whole country is at the eve of a new governance. The reports  focus on the justice gap that exists in many parts of the world, including the Philippines. For Amnesty International, justice is needed not only for those who were tortured or killed but also for those who live in poverty and whose economic, social and cultural rights are violated.
Today as we launch our reports, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, III will be proclaimed as the new leader of the country. We call upon him to focus on the situation in Mindanao, a region that for so many years has fallen prey to political power players that undermine the law of the land and international human rights standards. This poverty-stricken region has seen the worst of politicians and the effects of impunity. Everyday there are reports of unlawful killings. More and more women become victims and more and more people become poor,” added Parong.
According to Amnesty International’s report on the world’s human rights, unlawful killings by paramilitary groups, private armies and unidentified assailants continue with impunity and perpetrators are not brought to justice. Most reported cases are from the Central Mindanao Area. It also highlights the plight of Indigenous Peoples living in remote areas and the Moros particularly affected by forced evictions and armed conflict.
These reports of human rights violations are not unique in Mindanao but mostly concentrated in the area due to failures in governance, both at the local and national levels. Amnesty International would like to highlight abuses that keep people poor.” Parong explained.
Amnesty International’s report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) notes that progress has been made, but it is now painfully clear that this has been uneven, and that without increased efforts, progress will fall far short of the targets set for 2015.
The NSCB (National Statistical Coordination Board) reported in 2008 that the poverty incidence increased to 26.9% for families in 2006 (which means 23.8 million individuals who are poor) compared to 24.4% in 2003 and that in terms of poverty incidence among population, out of 100 Filipinos, 33 were poor in 2006, compared to 30 in 2003.The NSCB also reported that Tawi-Tawi was the poorest in 2006 (where 9 out of ten families were poor) while Zamboanga del Norte was second. The other provinces included in the ten (10) poorest are Maguindanao, Surigao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Lanao del Sur, Masbate, Apayao, Northern Samar and Abra.
“Exclusion and discrimination continue to be key factors in driving and deepening poverty. Laws and practices must ensure that full and equal enjoyment of rights extends to all, including members of marginalized or excluded groups.”
States have an immediate obligation to prioritize minimum essential levels of economic, social and cultural rights – such as housing, food, water, sanitation, education, health and social security – for all. The Aquino government and all local government units must ensure that they will direct efforts to fulfilling such obligations to all the peoples in the Philippines. The Aquino government must set national targets which are measurable and time bound for progress to fulfill minimum essential levels of these rights in the shortest possible time. The new government must ensure that people living in poverty are able to participate meaningfully in MDG planning, implementation and monitoring,“ added Parong.
The report on MDGs ends with a list of recommendations to states, bilateral and multilateral development agencies, international financial institutions, and UN agencies, programs and funds. The recommendations focus on how implementation of the MDGs between now and 2015 can be made consistent with human rights standards and briefly outline some of the essential elements that must be incorporated into any revised or new global framework to address poverty after 2015.
The MDG initiatives in our country must prioritize those individuals and groups most at risk in order to bring about real improvements in their lives. We hope that the new government will give the immediate appropriate attention to the most disadvantaged when planning and implementing programs and allocating resources”, concluded Parong.


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