Has change really come?, asks relatives and victims of State repression

Press Release | July 14, 2017 

“Hustisya! Wala kaming kasalanan, pero pinatay nila [mga sundalo] ang anak ko. Hustisya para sa anak ko, para sa nangyari sa akin. Nabubuhay pa rin kami sa takot, hindi na ito nagbago,” said Rodolfo Tagalog Sr., father of slain peasant Rodolfo Jr. His son was brutally killed and tortured by elements of the 2nd Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA) and 9th Infantry Division in Milagros, Masbate on April 15, 2017. Rodolfo Jr.’s body was found 2 days later, on April 17, with his body full of bruises and bearing signs of torture.

“May mga bilanggong pulitikal pa rin, na nagpapatunay na patuloy ang inhustisya. Para sa aming inaasam ang paglaya ng aming mga minamahal, walang nagbago. Napapako pa rin ang mga pangako, nasa rehas pa rin ang mga lumalaban,” said Gloria] Almonte, 56, wife of ailing political prisoner Dionisio Almonte. Gloria and her husband were illegally arrested on January 9, 2014 in Valenzuela, Metro Manila. Gloria was granted bail and was released on December 2015, but she continues to call for her husband’s release. Dionisio, 60, suffers from severe diabetes, slipped disk, tuberculosis, and deteriorating eyesight. Dionisio was among those slated for release on the basis of humanitarian considerations. He is currently detained at the Metro Manila District Jail – SICA Taguig City.

“Andito na naman kami, nililisan na naman ang aming mga tahanan. Para sa mga Lumad na naging buhay na ang pagbabakwit, nararamdaman pa rin namin ang pangamba, ang takot, at ang kalupitan ng mga sundalo at ng gobyerno,” said Eufemia Cullamat, a Lumad leader in Lianga, Surigao del Sur whose community is among those who evacuated last July 5-6, 2017. Nine (9) communities were forced to leave after military bomber planes were seen circling in the area and presence of soldiers in their community increased when martial law was declared in Mindanao.

In a media forum on Duterte’s first year of presidency, Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said that “the Filipino people were promised change, and yet the situation they endure is far from the kind of development that is needed.”

“A year into the Duterte presidency has proven that, like previous administrations that used buzzwords such as “development” and “security” to justify State repression and terror, it is no different in this regard, as he demonstrates increasingly that he is unlikely to follow through on pronouncements of an independent foreign policy and other campaign promises. He has continued his anti-crime campaign which victimizes poor communities that have lost their right to due process, as well as, other civil and political rights. His anti-people policies, that of Oplan Kapayapaan, his war campaign on drugs, and his recent declaration of martial law in Mindanao are instrumental in creating an emboldened State security force sheltered in impunity. Even the economic framework adopted by his administration is a disappointing duplicate of his predecessors’ heavy dependence on foreign aid and investments,” Karapatan said.

Karapatan challenged Duterte to immediately address the deteriorating rights situation. “He should seriously undertake pro-people policies and socioeconomic reforms, which are already articulated in the Comprehensive Agreement on Socioeconomic Reforms (CASER) agenda in the GRP-NDFP peace talks. It is also a continuing challenge for Duterte to make good on his earlier promises to release political prisoners and work on the gains already achieved in the peace talks.”

“Duterte should immediately stop the killings and withdraw repressive State policies which perpetrate violations and constrict any certainty of punishment for the violators. Ultimately, he must address the deteriorating human rights and people’s rights situation in the country, lest he becomes a tired, rusty imitation of the same ensemble - with exploitative neoliberal policies on the one hand, and fascism on the other,” Palabay concluded.

 

Reference:  Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831 

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580 

 

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