May 23, 2024

HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS — Jacqueline Cariño, John Paredes, Atty. Reynaldo Cortes, and councilors Jose Molintas and Arthur Allad-iw were awarded for their dedication and unwavering commitment to the advocacy and upholding of human rights. Commission on Human Rights Chairperson, Atty. Richard Papal-latoc and city officials handed over the plaques of commendation to the honorees. — Neil Clark Ongchangco

“Their names may not be engraved in marble, or mentioned in the grand halls of power. However, because of their courage bravery against tyranny and injustice, they have sculpted a place in our hearts and made imprints in our minds.”

Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Richard Palpal-latoc lauded Baguio’s human rights champions which the city government re-cognized on Feb. 26 during its Monday flag raising rites.

Palpal-latoc graced the recognition rites of the HR advocates, namely Jacqueline Jill K. Cariño, John L. Paredes, Atty. Reynaldo A. Cortes, and councilors Jose M. Molintas and Arthur L. Allad-iw.

According to the CHR-Cordillera, Cariño, an indigenous people’s rights acti-vist and community development worker, inspired hope by advocating for indigenous knowledge, systems, and practices. She empowered communities to stand up for their rights, helping to protect the inherent dignity of all, especially our indigenous people.

Paredes, a social work educator, an active leader of the Pines Federation of Persons with Disabilities, and a partner of the city’s PWD Affairs Office, represents the PWD sector on various assemblies advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities.

Cortes, on the other hand, is a human rights lawyer and a member of various human rights organizations like the Free Legal Assistance Group, providing free legal assistance to the marginalized and the most vulnerable sectors.

Molintas is commended for his outstanding dedication and unwavering commitment to advocacy and upholding human rights.

Allad-iw, who despite his physical disability, is a human rights champion and has been awarded multiple times for his dedication and contribution as a human rights advocate who serves as the voice of the people who have less in life.

Palpal-latoc said in today’s reality, where uncertainties abound, these Filipinos serve as the threads that bind people together so that they can be resilient, benevolent, and hopeful even amidst the most formidable of challenges.

“Their unwavering commitment to the principles that support democracy and human rights is the bedrock upon which the progress of our nation stands. In their pursuit of human rights, they echo the aspirations of our forefathers who fought for the freedoms we now cherish. Their commitment is not merely to a movement, it is the commitment to the most sacred of all causes: humanity,” he said.

Palpal-latoc said though injustices remain unabated, the voices of these HR advocates can be heard loudly advocating for what is just, championing for what is right, and demanding respect and dignity for everyone.

“As beacons of hope, they serve as an inspiration reminding us that human rights are essential to nation building. Today, we honor not just individuals but formidable strength and the indomitable spirit that define them. Their resolve to do what is right no matter how difficult it may be is a call to action that each of must heed and embrace,” he said.

The city also lauded the Baguio lead contact tracing team headed by team leader Dr. Donabel Tubera-Panes and team members Lt/Col. Maximo Sug-ang, Jr., law enforcement evaluation officer Mischelle Junio, non-uniformed personnel Jefferson Damoslog, and Shanry Roberts, who were chosen as one of the recipients of the 2023 Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award of the Civil Service Commission for its best practice in contact tracing with the End Covid-19 Tracking System. – Hanna C. Lacsamana