Duterte heading for collision course versus people’s rights

“The plot is becoming predictable. Dependent on the dictates of US-loyal military lapdogs, Duterte has set the stage ready for martial law extension and its possible expansion. The AFP has largely influenced the direction of the Duterte administration, made palatable under the veil of ‘national security.’ The three main operators of militarism - DND chief Delfin Lorenzana, AFP chief Eduardo Año, and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon - is driving the Duterte government in a collision course against people’s rights,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay during a protest action at Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame.

 

As of June 30, 2017, Karapatan documented 68 victims of political killings and 842 victims of illegal arrests. At least 416,005 individuals were displaced and 357,569 were subjected to indiscriminate gunfire and aerial bombardment. These figures include bombings and aerial strikes in Marawi, North Cotabato, Bukidnon, Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, and several other areas in Mindanao and all over the country. Palabay said that “this is on top of the staggering casualties attributed to the war on drugs. Such figures fare far worse than that of Aquino’s. Repressive policies are becoming the hallmark of the Duterte administration, and so long as the President continues to anchor his decisions to the mere say-so of his disrepute and war-hogging military officials, things are unlikely to change.”

Palabay added that “Duterte seems to be fighting two ‘wars’ - a war against alleged terrorists and a war against drugs. On the ground however, both of these ‘wars’ amount to fascist attacks against the poor, against activists and progressive organizations, and against the Filipino people. The PNP and the AFP ought to be recognized as world-class violators. What does the President decide to do withgive these rights abusers? Not punishment, but more power to abuse.”

A special session of both houses in Congress is set to be convened on July 22, a month after Proclamation 216 and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus was put into effect in Mindanao. House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has expressed optimism that Duterte’s call will be heeded by Congress. This session aims not only to extend martial law for another month, but for it to continue until the end of 2017.

“Concluding from how the legislative and judicial branches have tacitly, others actively, complied with allowing martial law, securing a go signal will be a smooth process. Ultimately, we have to ask who benefits most from the extension of martial law? Who benefits from the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus and the free pass to arrest civilians and bypass civilian institutions? Such devious schemes that threaten persons, communities and their rights can only benefit violators. It will benefit warmongers in Duterte’s cabinet personified by Lorenzana, Año, and Esperon; It will further benefit imperialist nations, primarily the United States, which have been in the business of fighting proxy wars and leaving in its wake a trail of ‘victim-nations’,” Palabay ended.

 

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