Negros bishop pleads for human rights respect in recovery from pandemic | Inquirer News
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Negros bishop pleads for human rights respect in recovery from pandemic

/ 07:10 PM December 09, 2020

BACOLOD CITY—San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza appealed for respect for human rights in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that killings in Negros Occidental province continued while people’s attention had been fixed on the battle against the disease.

“We believe that the way to recover better is through defending our people’s rights for a better life amid this pandemic,” he said in his message to mark International Human Rights Day on Thursday (Dec. 10).

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“The Diocese of San Carlos invites everyone to celebrate International Human Rights Day by being vigilant and by protecting the rights of every human being who is created in the image and likeness of God,“ said Alminaza, one of a few Church leaders outspoken in their criticism of the government’s human rights record.

The Human Rights Watch reported that during lockdowns in the Philippines for COVID-19 between April and July, drug-related killings saw a 50 percent surge compared to the same period in 2019 prior to the pandemic.

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Alminaza said during the Duterte administration, at least 92 extrajudicial killings had been recorded in the province of Negros Occidental alone.

“Until today, our cries to end the killings on Negros island remain unheeded,” the bishop said. “The unresolved extrajudicial killings of thousands of Filipinos should challenge our consciences,” he said.

The Philippine National Police had said more than 5,000 had been killed in anti-drug operations.

“Our country needs to recover better, from the many issues affecting our nation,” Alminaza said.

These issues, he said, included:

The fund scandal hounding PhilHealth
Implementation of Bayanihan To Heal as One Act
Flaws in the Department of Education’s online learning
The P16 billion funding for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict
Excessive foreign loans and grants for COVID-19 response

“Red-tagging of activists, peoples’ organizations and Church people who defend human rights must stop,” said the bishop.

“Instead, the root causes of the armed conflict should be addressed and peace negotiations should be seriously pursued,” he added.

Edited by TSB

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TAGS: #COVID19PH, bishop, Church, Human rights, Negros Occidental, Regions
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