Duterte regime’s proscription petition targets critics, rights defenders - Karapatan

Karapatan condemns the listing of more than 600 persons, human rights defenders and critics of the Duterte government in the proscription petition filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ), through Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong, at a regional court in Manila on February 21, 2018. The petition not only seeks to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) as terrorist organizations but also named individuals as their supposed leaders or members, including those who are dead, missing and members of paramilitary units accused of killing Lumads in Mindanao.

“There is no doubt that the filing of the petition is an effort to sow fear and panic among Duterte's detractors, subjectively prepare the public for more intense political repression, and be the front act of a crackdown against the dictator wannabe's critics. The list of leaders and members is a take-off from the Order of Battle (OB) lists of the Gloria Arroyo and Noynoy Aquino regimes," said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina E. Palabay. 

She recalled that persons listed in the OB often ended up arrested based on false charges, incarcerated and even tortured, missing or killed. “Not only do such lists incite human rights violations, they also legitimize and make "normal" to the public the government's abuse of power in suppressing dissent and decimating the supposed "enemies of the state,” she stated. 

Victoria Tauli Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and former Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, is among the named individuals in the petition. “This is a clear case of reprisal from Malacanang for Corpuz’s expressed concern over possible cases of human rights violations due to the imposition of martial law in Mindanao. She and another UN SR released a statement in response to a letter of allegation submitted by Karapatan to her office,” Palabay commented.

In the list also are human rights defenders who have been in the forefront of defending and protecting human and people’s rights like Elisa Tita Lubi, Karapatan National Executive Committee member and former interim Regional Coordinator of the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD). 

Also named in the petition are Joan Carling, past Secretary General of the Asian Indigenous Peoples’ Pact (AIPP) and former member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; Atty. Jose Molintas, former member of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP); Beverly Longid, Global Coordinator of the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL); Sandugo Co-Chairperson Joanna Cariño; Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) Chairperson Windel Bolinget; and at least 10 Lumad datu/leaders in Northern and Southern Mindanao.  Even more unbelievable is the inclusion in the list of the names of the nine-member Karapatan quick reaction team arrested in November 2017 and HR defenders in Negros.

While National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) as an organization was omitted in the proscription, those involved in the peace talks between the GRP and NDFP were listed like Peace Panel members Coni Ledesma, Juliet de Lima and Benito Tiamzon; Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison; Senior Adviser Luis Jalandoni;  Wilma Austria-Tiamzon and at least 20 other peace consultants; and former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, independent cooperator. 

The Karapatan leader also said that the list is “severely defective as it contains scores of aliases (aka), John and Jane Does so any person can be added later."  

"The list also contains seven names of paramilitary group members including four from the New Indigenous Peoples' Army (NIPAR), led by Alde "Butchoy" Salusad, who have standing warrants for the killing of Lumad leader Datu Jimmy Liguyon. They also have been presented and paid as surrenderees, consistent to their being all-purpose pawns in the military's repressive schemes,” Palabay said. 

“On the whole, DOJ’s proscription petition is dubious and a maneuver meant to harass, target and criminalize persons in progressive organizations. We should oppose this and other tyrannical acts that brand legitimate dissent and activism as ‘terrorism.’ What should be addressed instead is Duterte’s brand of state terrorism, which has victimized thousands. Indeed, shouldn't Duterte be branded instead as the number 1 terrorist?” Palabay concluded. 

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580