On Duterte’s 3rd State of the Nation Address: Stop the attacks against the Filipino people!

“In line with its counterinsurgency program, the Duterte regime kills 2 per week and arrests 20 individuals in the same period – many of the victims are farmers and indigenous peoples. No doubt this figure will be whitewashed to give way to the administration’s conjured version of an imagined state of the nation. The reality of the country under Duterte is tainted with the blood and sufferings of the poor, denied of their rights and continuously being burdened by the government’s repressive and anti-people policies,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

In Duterte’s two years, Karapatan documented 163 victims of extrajudicial killings under the regime’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan. Of the 163, 104 of the killings happened in Mindanao. Illegal and arbitrary arrests number to around 1,695. Moreover, 436, 517 people were uprooted from their communities and were forced to evacuate due to bombings and military operations.

“This is a systematic policy to go after any and all individuals and organizations that have raised their voices and fists against repression and oppression. The regime’s counterinsurgency program, reinforced by martial law and other repressive laws, have further solidified the role of state forces as killing machines with ample resources, unchecked powers and guaranteed impunity,” Palabay added.

The casualties under the drug war paint the same grim picture of gross violations on people’s civil and political rights. The police reported some 23,000 killings but insisted that only 2,649 were drug related. However, 10,594 victims were archived as unresolved crimes but included in the PNP’s accomplishment report. The number of arrests have resulted in congested city jails which are way past its capacity, a situation made worse by the government’s recent anti-tambay drive, with more than 50,000 individuals accosted, arrested and detained under the said government campaign. 

The Karapatan official noted that “the continuing assault against the people’s civil and political rights have reached an unprecedented degree. This regime is relentless in showing that it can use brute force to get what it wants. Yet it is utterly useless in providing comprehensive solutions to the multi-faceted problems of our society. The only solution that Duterte seems to know is to kill and bypass people’s fundamental rights. No wonder nothing is resolved, and we are left with more bodies piling up, coupled with guaranteed impunity.” 

Palabay also commented on the news that a renowned director will be directing Duterte’s 3rd SONA. She said that “no amount of cinematic direction can change how the people perceive and experience the real state of the nation under a murderous and anti-people regime, nor will it suffice in creating an illusion of development and peace. This narrative of injustice and the glaring reality of rights violations will stubbornly mount to the surface no matter how alluringly it is concealed in flowery words and strongman rhetoric.”

The organization featured two creative forms of protest during the United People’s SONA rally. One is a tableau featuring an interpretation of the Pieta, which was re-imagined to reflect the many mothers and relatives holding their slaughtered kin, shot and killed in line with the government’s counterinsurgency program and the war on drugs. The tableau also includes figures that depict the plight of activists, political dissenters and ordinary folks who were tortured, illegally or arbitrarily arrested, and detained in the context of Oplan Kapayapaan and the anti-tambay drive of the Duterte government. 

Second is its rendition of “Istambay sa Kalsada,” a song used by Karapatan in a music video released through Facebook early this month which provided a comedic social commentary on the government’s anti-tambay drive. Members of Karapatan will sing the said ditty during the Protest Sing-Along portion of the United People’s SONA program. 

“We will continue to protest, to add our voices to the growing clamor for justice and substantial change. There is growing outrage and discontent over the anti-people policies of the Duterte regime. His false promises are slowly being exposed, and his regime gradually being isolated. We will not allow their petty tricks to cloud the reality on the ground; we will courageously stand together to demand justice and accountability,” Palabay concluded.