Our country is perhaps one of the many countries is Asia which recognise respect for human rights in their Constitution. While the Bill of Rights of our 1987 Constitution clearly stipulates these rights entitlement, an average Filipino see it exist merely on paper if asked based on their daily life experience.
How would you make them believed that indeed we have the right to freedom of expression, assemly and against torture, among others, when the policemen almost daily are seen bashing and beating protesters to violently disperse them.
This certain level of immunity and impunity by the policemen, by not holding them accountable and prosecuted for their arbitrary acts, ensues a deep-rooted fear amongst the Filipinos. It is expected that most likely, if not all times, people with grievances do away of confronting policemen out of fear.
On televisions, we see arrested persons, in particular protesters continously being beaten by police with batons and truncheons despite having them subdued. While we recognise the police role to contain unruly protesters, does it subsequently give them immunity to such acts and not to hold them accountable?
It is frigthening that what Filipinos are experiencing are completely contrary to what our Constitution stipulates. Our policemen and those in government are perhaps to clever that they could even justify this violation of absolute rights.
Human rights requires articulation no more, but an effective implementation and to hold the government accountable for its acts, failure and inaction. Violation of rights, in particular torture, is totally unacceptable in any circumtances. The government acknowledges this in accordance with the human rights standard.
Until we acknowledge that implementation of rights instead of mere articulation is a core point of realising human rights development, we wouldn’t go any step further.
We’ll always slide back to what we were, what we have always been, what we have already fought for over and over again – as what we are nowadays experiencing. After all, change of leadership is important but perhaps secondary if the government’s system and the people in itself is so defective.