Rights group to int’l tribunal: Duterte, Trump guilty of rights violations vs Filipinos

In her expert testimony at the opening of the International People’s Tribunal (IPT) 2018 in Brussels, Belgium, Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay called on the jurors of the global court to deliver a guilty verdict on the gross and blatant violations on the Filipino people’s civil and political rights of Philippine Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and US President Donald Trump. 

Palabay cited the “overwhelming evidence that points to the culpability of Duterte,” as shown in the twelve emblematic cases of civil and political rights violations presented and submitted in the Tribunal. 

Among these are: cases of extrajudicial killings in line with Duterte’s anti-narcotics campaign and counterinsurgency program; killings and massacre of human rights defenders; illegal arrest, detention and trumped up charges against political dissenters and activists; torture; political persecution of rights defenders, including non-Filipino activists, and critics of the drug killings such as detained Sen. Leila de Lima; attacks on lawyers and churchpeople; forcible evacuation, bombings and other rights violations in Marawi and the declaration of martial law in Mindanao; and attacks on media people and press freedom including the killing of journalists, the harassment and arrest of journalists.  
 
“Mass murder, gross violations on the right to due process, unabated killings, attacks, terrorist-tagging and criminalisation of human rights defenders and political dissenters, muzzling of the right to free expression, impunity to the hilt, general situation of unpeace, the utter contempt for human rights - all these put together describe the catastrophic impact of a Rodrigo Roa Duterte presidency on the civil and political rights of the Filipino people,” Palabay said, in her testimony. 

Jimmylisa Badayos, daughter of slain human rights worker Elisa Badayos, tearfully recounted her family’s ordeal, from her father’s forced disappearance during the Corazon Aquino administration, her illegal arrest and detention of her husband, to the killing of her mother on November 28, 2018. 

“Without a doubt, I am holding President Duterte accountable for my mother’s death, as he is responsible for the implementation of Oplan Kapayapaan, a counterinsurgency program that has targeted activists or those wrongly tagged as “terrorist” or “rebels,” Badayos, who is also currently a National Council member of Karapatan, said. 

Karapatan also underscored the role of the US government, through Trump, in supporting and directing Oplan Kapayapaan that has engendered rights violations in the Philippines. 

“This campaign is fueled by military financing from the US government, which amounted to at least $175M in the last two years, on top of the continuous military trainings and numerous deals of the US and its allied governments like the UK, Canada and Israel regarding armaments, drones, surveillance and other war materiel with the Philippine government. Their common thrust is to maintain US’s hegemonic presence not only in the country but in the Asia Pacific region,” Palabay said.  

The IPT2018 is a global court being convened by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights (ELDH), Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, IBON International, and the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP). Its team of Jurors are all experts and eminent individuals from different disciplines with proven competence, integrity, probity and objectivity, and experienced on issues on human rights, rights of peoples, and international humanitarian law. The Tribunal is being convened until September 19, 2018.