TaDi Snap Shots

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Someone named like you may be missing...


Rodel.  Cecille.  Victor.  Cynthia.  Rommel.  Noel.  James.  Fernando.  Is your name one of them?  Then you have a Tukayo who may be missing or has been tortured or even murdered.  Tukayo is Filipino for the term that refers to someone who shares the same name as you.  But they just don't share the same name, they share same human rights too. 

As the whole world commemorates today, August 30, the International Day of the Disappeared, I would like to share with you the Human Rights Campaign Against Impunity dubbed as Tukayo.  Organized by The Asia Foundation and its partners from the government, NGOs (non-government organizations) and the private sector, the campaign aims to create awareness about various human rights violations like extra judicial killings, torture and enforced disappearances.  Through our "tukayos", the campaign brings to life the stories of the victims, and reminds us that they were real people who were unjustly murdered, tortured and made to disappear.

I know, some of us may see this irrelevant to our lives or not even a real concern at all.  We may say, as long as we live our normal and simple lives and not go against anyone or someone in position, we are safe from these threats.  But that's until we or someone we know experience the same consequences. Sad to say, sometimes there are people whom we never expect to suffer from these would actually become victims themselves. And we just feel helpless. Whether we are proactive  in seeking societal changes or busy enough living our private lives, we just can't distance ourselves from this issue.

Over the past decade, no one has gone to jail out of 101 cases that were found to pass the standards of probable cause and reached the filing stage in the courts. Currently, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) of the Philippines has documented 1,001 victims of alleged extralegal killings (ELKs) covering the period from 2001-2009, while the civil society group, Karapatan, reported 1,188 victims of ELKs, 205 victims of enforced disappearances, and 1,028 incidents of torture, for the same period. The targets were predominantly political activists, grassroots organizers and members of the media.

The campaign aims to get President Noynoy Aquino to sign the National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP). When signed by the President, it will become the roadmap for the government from the national to the barangay level, in upholding and protecting the civil and political rights of every citizen. It will align the provisions of 8 different international treaties and conventions so ensure the protection of the rights of all including, labor, women, children, activists, media and more.

The campaign was launched recently at the House of Representatives in cooperation with the Office of the Deputy Speaker Rep. Lorenzo R. Tanada III and Bayan Muna Party list Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares. The simple yet momentous ceremony was graced by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casino, families of human rights victims, students, NGO representatives, members of the media and other concerned citizens.

House Deputy Speaker Erin Tanada speaks at the launch of the Tukayo Human Rights Campaign Against Impunity.

The unveiling of the interactive Tukayo wall

A documentary about media killings in the country produced by PCIJ or the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism as well as the Tukayo campaign infomercial were exhibited during the program.  And these materials elicited strong response from the audience, even by passers stopped to see and listen to what the videos are telling the public.  And among the program's highlights is the unveiling of the Tukayo walls which goal is to spread further awareness about the human rights campaign against impunity.  One panel uses an interactive system where people can look at bullet holes and actually see video reenactments of cases of human rights violations.  Another panel shows list of names of people who disappeared.  Another one shows a letter or message to PNOY urging him to sign the NHRAP.

Guests watch the videos about human rights cases at the bullet holes of the exhibit wall.

Another thing that caught the audience's attention were the weapens, which are the event's memorabilia given to guests.  These weapens are actually pens in the form of weapons used to torture human rights victims.  The organizers said that they created the weapens to serve as a constant reminder for everyone to uphold human rights as they believe that the pen is mightier than the sword.

ABS-CBN reporter Atom Araullo looks at one of the weapens.

Malou Mangahas of PCIJ and GMA News TV's Investigative Documentaries got curious about the knife weapen.

Patricia Evangelista of ABS-CBN's Story Line and her camera woman also check the weapen.

The Tukayo Campaign asks citizens from all sectors of society to participate in the campaign and speak up against impunity to bring justice to the tortured, murdered and disappeared.  People can participate in several ways - by signing on actual walls set up in various universities such as The University of the Philippines, De La Salle University, Ateneo de Manila University and the University of Santo Tomas which updated exhibit dates will be announced soon or by signing the virtual wall. To sign the virtual wall and to get more information on the Tukayo Campaign, please visit www:speakup.com.ph.

Speaker of the House Sonny Belmonte supports the Tukayo Human Rights Campaign against impunity by signing on the wall while House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III, a staunch advocate of the campaign waits for his turn to sign.

Let's hope that through this campaign, there will be no more Tukayo or any person who will disappear or be tortured and be murdered.  But if ever, God forbids, it happens again, justice should be served!  And to achieve that, this Tukayo human rights campaign against impunity should succeed.  And you can be of help.  So Speak up. Right a Wrong. It’s up to us.

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