Philippines government challenged over human rights

 Human rights activists in the Philippines, including members of the World Council of Churches, have called on the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva "to keep pursuing our government to stop the extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations". In a report presented last week they said state security forces have been involved in many of the killings over recent years of indigenous leaders, trade union and farmer leaders and civil society organisation members. There have been over 800 since 2001. Military abuses have displaced thousands of villagers in Mindanao, Samar, Quezon and Negros islands. "My contacts tell me that human rights in the Philippines are worse today than under Martial Law" Columban Sister Mary Radcliffe says. Now based in London, she worked for Task Force Detainees of the Philippines for 19 years until 2002. Clare Short MP, who visited the Philippines in 2006 to assess the human and environmental impact of destructive mining, commented that, "when I visited the Philippines I found that local people were vehemently opposed to mining proposals that will damage their lands, fishing and agriculture" She noted they were strongly supported by the Catholic bishops, but the government "would not listen to people or bishops". In her view, "the extra judicial killings are designed to crush dissent and I fear that things will get worse". On 4 June, Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez, of the Diocese of Marbel in Mindanao, issued a statement, 'Large-scale mining is not moral, fair and just'. He said: "Global warming, climate change and food shortages are presently the immediate threats to human existence. Large-scale mining activities never address, but rather aggravate these threats.. The clergy will continue to be determined and united in its stand against any undertaking that promotes only corporate greed, like large-scale open pit mining, undermining environmental, social and economic justice, ecological balance and cultural legacy for the present and future generation."

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