Cordillera activists shed light on human rights abuses during North American tour

LOS ANGELES – With images of their lost loved ones on their shirts, a trio of Cordillera activists are on a North American crusade, shedding light on alleged human rights abuses in the Philippines.

They call it a war between the government and the poor resulting in conflict and human rights violations.

There is widespread impoverishment there’s widespread hunger, landlessness, joblessness, social injustice,” said Audrey Beltran of Hustisya.

“The development Nonoy Aquino is saying the economy is vibrant it has a GDP of 7.2, 6.3, 7.4 are not being felt by the common tao of the Philippines,” added another activist Nestor Salvador.

Beltran’s husband was part of the New People’s Army, and while he was a combatant, she feels his death was unjust.

“His rights as a combatant were violated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Beltran said. “But the rules of engagement have been violated clearly by the Armed Forces in the Philippines.”

For Salvador, his wife was a civilian engineer contracted for some work in the Cordillera region. He says despite not being a part of the NPA, his wife also suffered the same fate as Beltran.

“She was not killed in an encounter, but taken alive, tortured and executed,” he explained.

These activists who begun touring in Canada last month will make their way to Washington DC for the International People’s Tribunal.

“We are here now to call for the resumption of the peace talks in the country because the peace we want can only be achieved by linking arms with other people here at the international level,” said Cynthia Dacanay of Cordillera Human Rights Alliance.

While President Aquino will be out of office next year, these activists believe it’s not too late to open the peace talks between these factions and the Philippine government.

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