Teachers in global meet urge end to killings, disappearances
MANILA, Philippines — More than 1,700 delegates to an international congress that claims to represent 30 million teachers in 180 countries called for an end to extrajudicial killings and involuntary disappearances in the country and for punishment of the perpetrators.
An urgent resolution of the 5th World Congress of Education International in Berlin, Germany, sent here by e-mail, called on the Arroyo government to “immediately put a stop to extrajudicial killings and involuntary disappearances; investigate, prosecute, and punish those responsible for these acts; and ensure that its security forces respect the human rights and civil liberties of citizens.”
A statement describes Education International as “a global federation of teacher trade unions, with 30 million members from more than 300 affiliated organizations in over 180 countries.”
The Philippines was represented to the teachers’ congress by Antonio Tinio, chairman of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and a representative of the Teachers’ Organization of the Philippines-Public Sector.
The delegates to the congress held July 22 to 26 said they were “appalled that more than 1000 activists fighting to uphold the rights and welfare of poor and oppressed Filipinos have been assassinated or made to disappear since President Gloria [Macapagal] Arroyo took power in 2001.”
Among the victims, they noted, were nine teachers, including ACT national officers Vitoria Samonte and Napoleon Pornasdoro.
The teachers also said they were “outraged that these gross human rights violations are carried out with impunity.”
The continued murders and attacks on activists in the country — the majority of which various local and foreign investigators say may be attributed to state security forces but which the government claims are the result of a supposed purge within the communist rebel movement — has brought increased international scrutiny and criticism on the Arroyo administration.
To date, human rights groups say no one has ever been arrested and convicted for the killings or disappearances.
Among the more celebrated cases is the abduction and disappearance of Jonas Burgos, son of the late press freedom icon Jose “Joe” Burgos Jr.