Karapatan submits cases of HRDs tagged under Duterte’s terror list to UN Special Rapporteurs

On March 13, 2018, Karapatan submitted a new batch of complaints to United Nations Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders Michel Forst and UN SR on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association Annalisa Ciampi on the inclusion of human rights defenders (HRDs) and activists in at least 600 names listed in the Justice Department’s petition to proscribe the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorist organizations. The petition was filed by Peter Ong, Senior Assistant State Prosecutor, at a regional court in Manila on February 21, 2018.

“Human rights defenders already have one foot in the grave, given the dangerous nature of their work. Now, with Duterte’s terror list, this regime is intent on digging the grave and pushing rights defenders right into the pit.  The list puts HRDs in even more vulnerable situations, with state security forces on the frontline, ready to pounce on activists and defenders at the directive of their Commander-in-Chief. This petition will have chilling effects on the ground, especially for human rights work,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, citing that there are 46 human rights defenders named in the said list.

Among the 46 HRDs in the list are as follows: Victoria Tauli Corpuz, current United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, former Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples and former Secretary General of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA); Elisa Tita Lubi, current Karapatan National Executive Committee member, former interim Regional Coordinator of the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) and founding Vice Chairperson of Gabriela Women’s Party; Beverly Longid, current global coordinator of the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), former CPA Chair and current Advisory Council member; Joan Carling, current Member and Co-Convenor of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group for the Sustainable Development Goals, former Secretary General of the Asian Indigenous Peoples’ Pact (AIPP), and former member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; Atty. Jose Molintas, former Asia representative to the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP), former CPA Chair and current Advisory Council member; Joanna Cariño, member of the CPA Advisory Council and Co-Chair of the SANDUGO Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self Determination; Windel Bolinget, current Chairperson of the CPA and National Co-convenor of KATRIBU National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines; Jeanette Ribaya-Cawiding, former Chairperson of CPA-Tongtongan ti Umili and current Regional Coordinator of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers – Cordillera; Sherwin de Vera, Regional Coordinator of DEFEND Ilocos, member of the Save The Abra River Movement (STARM) and former Secretary General of the Ilocos Human Rights Alliance-Karapatan; Datu Isidro Indao, Matigsalog-Manobo village chief, council member of the PASAKA Lumad Confederation in Southern Mindanao and an active member of the Parent-Teacher Community Association of the Lumad school run by the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc.; Datu Mandayhon Han-ayan, Talaandig village chief in Malaybalay, Bukid and member of the PIGYAYONGAAN Lumad organization; Datu Mandayhon, a Talaandig village chief and member of the PIGYAYONGAAN Lumad organization; Sergio Lumonday, a Manobo and the Tinananon Kulamanon Lumadnong Panaghiusa secretary general; Zara Alvarez, Research and Advocacy Officer of the Negros Island Health Integrated Program (NIHIP) and former Campaign and Education Director of Karapatan-Negros chapter; Romulo Bito-on, Regional Coordinator of Makabayan-Negros and member of the Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA); Rogina Navarro Quilop, Administrative Officer of the Center for People’s Resources and Services (CPRS)-Negros; Isidro Castillo, former Chairperson of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW); Arnold Evangelista and Erlindo Baes, officers of the Batangas Human Rights Alliance-Karapatan.

Palabay said that “Duterte is sending out a warning, a threat that anyone who goes against his government will be immediately labeled a “terrorist”, a tag that incites violence against individuals and justifies rights violations against them. The process of listing individuals is very arbitrary, malicious, and highly irresponsible. We fear that this is just the start of a long crusade against rights defenders. If unchallenged, the listing of names under the DOJ proscription petition will set a dangerous precedent, giving the Duterte regime the go-signal to concoct more baseless lists.” 

The complaints called for the Philippine government to junk the baseless, malicious and arbitrary terror list, an end to the filing of trumped-up charges against activists and rights defenders, an end to the blanket labeling of members and leaders of progressive organizations as “terrorists”, the abolition of the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA) which legitimizes and systemizes the filing of fabricated charges, the resumption of the peace talks between the GPH and the NDFP, and the government’s compliance to agreements, laws, and international human rights instruments that promote and protect the rights of the Filipino people. 

“The stench of the repressive motive behind this terror list cannot be contained. Like the many ‘lists’ of past regimes, this serves the same purpose – to intimidate, harass, gag dissent, and force rights defenders into silence and submission. We call on all human rights advocates and the Filipino people to stay vigilant against such efforts to curtail our civil and political rights. The Duterte gangster regime is deliberately ignoring its obligations to promote and protect people’s rights,” concluded Palabay.


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