Karapatan’s Statement on International Human Rights Day 2017

“Today, we are once again confronted by the truth that governments do not grant people their rights. We always have to fight for our rights. We are once again faced by a very difficult and perilous situation, as we are confronted by State terrorism which knows no limit. Our response is to stand our ground and staunchly make our voices louder and our actions stronger against tyranny and impending full pledged dictatorship,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay on December 10, 2017, International Human Rights Day. 

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“It is infuriating how the US-backed Duterte regime has escalated its fascist attacks on the Filipinos in the past two weeks before International Human Rights Day. Peasant leader Apolonio Maranan was killed in Davao City on November 26. A human rights defender and a peasant activist were killed on November 28, followed by the killing of a Catholic priest in Nueva Ecija and a pastor in Mindoro Oriental. Duterte’s bloodthirsty hounds also massacred eight T’boli and Dulangan Manobos in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato on December 3. Most recently, a leader of a fisherfolk organization, Aldrin Sese, was gunned down in Masbate on December 8 and yesterday, the lifeless body of youth cultural worker Bernardo Clarion was found in Davao City, after reports that the house he was in was raided by soldiers,” narrated Palabay.

The cases of extra-judicial killings earlier mentioned by the Karapatan leader were those of Elisa Badayos and Eleuterio Moises while on a fact-finding mission in Negros Oriental. She also cited the killings of Pastor Lovelito Quiñones in Mindoro and Fr. Marcelito "Tito" Paez in Nueva Ecija, and the December 3 massacre in South Cotabato of Victor Danyan, Victor Danyan Jr., Artemio Danyan, Pato Celardo, Samuel Angkoy, To Diamante, Bobot Lagase, and Mateng Bantal.

As of November 2017, Karapatan has documented 113 victims of political killings, 81 victims of torture, 54, 573 of threat, harassment, and intimidation, 364,617 of indiscriminate firing and aerial bombing, and 426, 170 of forced evacuation. The Duterte regime has also imprisoned 121 new political prisoners now languishing in jails across the country.

“But these figures do not come close to the real extent of individuals, groups and communities victimized by the AFP, PNP and the whole US-Duterte regime since the data are just the ones reported to and documented by Karapatan. The Duterte government should be held accountable for many more attacks against the people including the thousands who are victims of extra-judicial killings perpetrated in the administration's campaign against illegal drugs. As we commemorate the International Day of Human Rights, we honor the victims of human rights and international humanitarian law violations and we vow to continue the fight for justice with more conviction," Palabay reiterated. 

Karapatan also assailed the AFP for its consistent disavowal of rights violations. On December 7, Lt.Col. Harold Cabunoc, commander of the 33rd IBPA, denied the massacre of eight indigenous T’boli and Dulangan Manobo farmers in Brgy. Ned, Lake Sebu. On December 8, Maj. Gen Restituto Padilla, AFP spokesperson, also denied blocking food and aid meant for evacuees of at least nine villages in Lianga and San Agustin, Surigao del Sur. The residents of the indigenous communities fled their homes due to intensifying military operations.

Palabay commented that “The military is shameless in denying its atrocities. On the other hand, its Commander-in-Chief , when sober and comprehensible, admits to killing the poor and wears the crown of a dictator wanna-be  proudly. The AFP denial kings are expert spin doctors who have perfected the art of deceit. Duterte and his beloved generals in the AFP remain as the number one instigators of State terrorism in this country, unhesitatingly trampling over people’s rights.” 

“Duterte’s list of fascist policies is getting longer. Still on the top of the list are his counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan, the unrelenting drug war campaign, martial law in Mindanao, and the threat of expanding martial rule nationwide. This may be the last human rights commemoration without the nationwide declaration of martial law, but with an impending martial law extension in Mindanao. The recent frequency of fascist attacks foreshadows what is next to come from Duterte, the dictator wanna-be.” added Palabay.

“We have no need for a government that kills, maims and attacks its people. The US-backed Duterte regime relentlessly sticks to its fascist policies that have massacred, bombed, and imprisoned people especially those who oppose his neo-liberal economic policies and repressive programs, all the while mouthing that it is ridding the country of criminality. As far as we are concerned, this oppressive and exploitative system, this fascist regime and its infamous henchmen are the ones that need to be disposed of,” concluded Palabay.

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580