DAVAO CITY — Global activists who met here for the International Conference for Peoples’ Rights in the Philippines (ICPRP) said President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) should tackle peoples’ rights and peace talk, among other issues, in what they called concrete programs for the people.

“We want nothing less than the protection of the peoples’ rights,” said Bishop Felixberto Calang spokesperson of the ICPRP in a separate press conference here in Duterte’s hometown Sunday, July 24.

“Duterte and his progressive members in cabinet made pronouncements of ending labor contractualization, ending large-scale mining plunder. We hope there would be positive steps to empower the people,” Calang said.

Calang also expressed hopes that under the Duterte administration will be able to address, if not end the root causes of conflict and eventually end the culture of impunity.

“We hope Duterte makes good with his promise to pursue the peace tract to address the root causes of the missing peace and stop the impunity against the people,” said Calang.

He said Duterte can push for the release of the political prisoners as goodwill in the talks.

End Lumad killings

Meanwhile, Cassidy Regan of the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines said she “hopes the Duterte administration would take action to stop the killings of the Lumad.”

“I have heard from people in Mindanao that the President has made many promises around changes that he wants to make in the country, around equality and addressing these atrocities that have occurred. I feel confident, that the people will be holding him accountable to these promises,” Regan told Davao Today in an interview on Saturday, July 23.

Regan, 28, joined the International Solidarity Mission held in the communities of Arakan, Cotabato province. Regan said she hopes the new administration “would support the self-determination of the Lumad people,” and that they would “hold the forces accountable, who have been displacing the IPs, accountable.”

She said the President should also “support the IP right to education and to protect the indigenous life that’s here in Mindanao.”

Anti-war activist tells Duterte: oppose EDCA

Anti-war activist Joe Iosbaker of the United National Anti-War Coalition warned President Duterte of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) signed by the Philippines and the United States.

“To allow the US empire to have access to any of your ports, whenever they want, they will do what they’re doing to Mindanao. It will bring war, if there’s already some war, it will bring more war to the Philippines,” Iosbaker told Davao Today.

“(The US) is taking local contradictions and they pour gasoline on them to make the fires worse. So keep the US military out of your country, President Duterte,” he said.

Some 250 delegates from 20 countries immersed in 11 Lumad and farmer communities all over the country. Calang said the international rights group has now joined the global initiative called JustPeacePH “to broaden the movement for peace based on justice.” (davaotoday.com)

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