Monday, May 7, 2007

Pictures from the "Testimonies from the Philippines"

The community forum on human rights in the Philippines was held last Saturday. Guest speakers were award-winning filmmakers Malcolm Guy and Marie Boti, Atty. Renato Pambid of the Workers Assistance Center, Philippines and Bern Jagunos from the United Church of Canada. Malcolm and Marie shared their experiences being with people's organizations and how it felt attending several funerals of killed activists. Malcolm and Marie are founding members of Centre for Philippine Concerns in Montreal that is celebrating its 25th years of building solidarity between Canadians and the Philippines. Atty. Pambid talked about the struggles of workers of the company that is a sub-contrator of Walmart. He is in Canada to attend the "Resposible Purchasing" conference that was held in Montreal. And lastly, Bern Jagunos shared the current efforts of the church sector in Canada in addressing the issue of political killings in the Philippines.

The event was well attended. Performers John Flores and Levy Abad Jr. Performed songs such as "Batingaw", "Light a Candle" and "Youre a Terrorist". The event was endorsed by United Filipinos for Nationalism and Democracy (UFiND), Siklab-Ontario, Filipino-Canadian Youth Alliance (UKPC), Community Alliance for Social Justice (CASJ), Philippine Press Club of Ontario (PPCO), Friends of Panay and the Ontario Public Interest Resarch Group - York University (OPIRG-York).

The Stop the Killing in the Philippines campaign is an on-going campaign of DAMAYAN Migrant Education and Resource Center. The victims of these killings are trade unionists, peasant farmers, teachers, priests and students advocating for the rights of their communities. Their names are Diosdado «Ka Fort » Fortunato, leader of the union at Nestle Philippines, gunned down in 2005, leaving a widow with six children; Bishop Alberto Ramento, one of the hightest officials of the Philippine Independent Church, a priest of the poor, stabbed as he slept in his church; Professor Jose Ma. Cui, gunned down in front of his students as he supervised an exam; Ma. Luisa Posa-Dominado and Nilo Arado, abducted by the military 12 days ago and still missing; Gracila Buya, a nine-year old girl in Grade 2, found shot by a stream near her home.

Over 840 such killings have taken place in the Philippines since 2001, when President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came to power. The military strategy guiding this climate of impunity is called Oplan Bantay Laya, which considers civilians legitimate military targets, claiming they are members of «communist fronts». It is the Philippine version of the Bush administration's
«War on Terror».

See the pictures of the event click on link. Or cut and paste: