Scientists and Technologists #StandUp4HumanRights ! #HumanRightsDay2018


December 11, 2018


We, Filipino nationalist scientists and technologists join the rest of the world in commemorating the 70th anniversary of the United Nation’s Declaration on Human Rights. Our solidarity with peoples and nations in the world is borne of our every right to “share in scientific advancement and its benefits”; but lately, also borne of our having witnessed repression amongst our ranks, and towards our work as nationalist scientists and technologists to build a peaceful, progressive, and nationally industrialised Philippines.

We recognise that our rights as codified by the United Nations are the “foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world”. And, we see that in the last decade and especially in the last few years in the Philippines, the increasing attacks on many of these rights. This has proven to be a stumbling block in advancing science and technology that serves the Filipino majority, and that is equitably accessed by and accessible to all.

We lament the incarceration and red-tagging of many scientists and engineers engaged in rural development work. In particular, we lament the incarceration of physicist and Lumad advocate Kim Gargar, and the irresponsible red-tagging of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on AGHAM (Advocates of Science and Technology for the People) Secretary General Feny Cosico.

In 2013, during the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, Kim was on an extension program outside his academic duties to help victims of typhoon Pablo in Mindanao. He was caught in crossfire between the AFP and the New People’s Army (NPA). Kim was falsely accused of being a member of the NPA, and was incarcerated for this.

Last October, Feny was tagged as a NPA contact in the province of Nueva Viscaya. This accusation was borne of her public involvement in environmental impact monitoring work and protest actions against Australian-New Zealand owned mining corporation Oceana Gold operating in that province. In 2017, this same mining operation refused to heed suspension orders of the DENR under then Secretary Gina Lopez; and, they have has since been found by international scientist groups to have caused grave negative impacts to the environment of its surrounding landscapes. Their operations continue.

While are relieved that Kim and Feny have for now escaped persecution from the state and belligerent multinational corporations, we continue to mourn the loss of other peoples’ scientists.

We commemorate the life of eminent botanist Leonard Co who was shot by members of the AFP during his fieldwork as consultant for Lopez family-owned Energy Development Corporation (EDC) in the mountains of Leyte. It has been eight years since Leonard’s death, and his killers have yet to be brought to justice.

These incidents in the life of scientists and in the conduct of their scientific work is disrespect and denial of their “rights to security of person”, and of “honour and reputation”; their rights to “not be subjected to arbitrary arrest”; and their rights “to freedom of movement”. For Leonard: his very right to life.

As we recognise that “every person is born free and equal in dignity and rights”; and that “no one shall be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment” we condemn the attacks on Lumad communities in Mindanao.

“Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others” and the Lumad collectively own their lands. Moreover, as scientists and technologists, we are not blind to the very reasons Lumad communities are attacked and militarised. Their lands are among the most mineral and forest rich areas in the Philippines. It is no wonder large extractive foreign multinational or few family-owned industries will do anything to take these lands away from the Lumad, including violating their every human right. It is sad, that the government allows this corporate plunder of their environment. Theirs is an environment that is a deep well of knowledge of the earth and resource of materials for peoples’ use.

We particularly condemn the attacks on Lumad Schools. These are attacks on the rights of everyone “to education that is free”, especially “in the elementary and fundamental stages”. These are attacks too on Lumad parents who, like all parents, have a “prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children”.

All these attacks on the rights of Lumad are disadvantageous to building our national industries. And these are the industries that will provide employment to many scientists and technologists, who will not need to leave the Philippine just to find jobs. That national industrialisation is at a disadvantage and the Philippines is drained of scientific and technological minds and manpower is because the government allows, and even enables these attacks on communities located in vital and rich natural resource landscapes so that it only serves the interests of large foreign and multinational, or few family-owned corporations. Where even a trickle of corporate profit on communities will not mean anything to them when they have lost their lands, and in turn their right to a “standard of living” where they are free to “participate in cultural life”.

We disapprove the passing of particular details provided in the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Law that deny many professional technologists like engineers and nurses their right to “protection against unemployment” as unjust fees are required of them to maintain their licenses to practice.

Protection of our scientists and technologists is the first step to ensure our vital industries, utilities, and services run. But when these same industries, utilities, and services are privatised against the interest of public good there is no guarantee of tenure for these science and technology (S&T) workers. They lose their right “to work, and free choice of employment”.

There is no wonder that there is a growing dislike of the current administration of Rodrigo Duterte. Mr Duterte denies the people, especially the already marginalised in society, their human rights; even stripping them of life itself. His tyranny has produced so much violence in the last two years that it has stunted the growth of our industries and utilities, making what are supposedly the material benefits of a sovereign nation’s resources more and more inaccessible to the people. He has created and maintains the conditions that make it almost impossible to achieve peace, progress, and national industrialisation.

Thus, we strongly condemn the illegal and arbitrary arrest of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Peace Consultant Rey Casambre and his wife Cora. And we uphold their right to “peaceful assembly and association” and “not be subjected to arbitrary arrest”.

Rey and Cora are long-time peace advocates, with Rey as Executive Director of the Philippine Peace Center (PCC). They are also both our fellow nationalist scientists. Rey is a physicist and Cora is a mathematician. Their tireless efforts for a just and lasting peace in the Philippines through the fight for social and economic reforms that enshrines all our human rights inspires the rest of us to #StandUp4HumanRights with the rest of nation and the world.

And so in the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights we enjoin all Filipinos and Philippine-loving scientists and technologists to demand for #JusticeForLeonardCo, and all those who have been stripped of their human rights in the service of science, technology, and the people. Let us work to #EndImpunity. Let us #DefendTheEnvironment and natural resources, including our environmental defenders. Let us work to #SaveOurSchools. Let us #DefendTheEnvironment and natural resources, including our environmental defenders. Let us work to #SaveOurSchools. Let us demand to #FreeTheCasambres and #FreeAllPoliticalPrisoners. Let us make a resounding call to #ResumePeaceTalksNow between the NDFP and the government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP); so that we come to a comprehensive agreement on social and economic reforms (#CASER), and achieve #NationalIndustrialization faster for a #JustAndLastingPeace.

Together with the Filipino nation, scientists and technologists can do all these if we choose to #StandUp4HumanRights.


Vito Hernandez

Contact: 0929 313 71 53