October, 2017

Attacks vs rights defenders intensify, Duterte and his mercenaries responsible - Karapatan

“Contrary to the statement of Malacañang’s mouthpieces, including that of recently appointed Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Duterte is a human rights violator, peddling fascist policies that continue the killing, illegal arrests and harassment directed against human rights workers. Through state policies such as counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan and the war on drugs, he sanctions State security forces with the license to kill, ensuring they have the resources, funds, and protection to go forward with their killing spree. By allowing his counterinsurgency program to continuously wreck havoc among the ranks of rights defenders, Duterte should ultimately be held responsible for these ongoing and intensifying attacks,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay on the recent spate of violations against human rights defenders in different parts of the country.

Political prisoners express support for farmers, calls the struggle for genuine land reform a “matter of life and death”

“91 farmers have already been killed under the Duterte regime, targeted because of their active involvement in peasant organizations to push forward the struggle for genuine land reform. Literally, the plight of farmers is a matter of life and death, especially in a feudal setting where agricultural lands are controlled by big landlords and agrobusiness corporations,” political prisoners stated in a statement.


Groups, students call for an end to fascist attacks vs the people

“Militarists like National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon have nothing new to offer to the table. He will sing to the tune of political repression and plunder of our resources masked in ornamented phrases like ‘whole of nation approach’ and ‘development projects’, in accordance to the government’s counterinsurgency and build, build, build program. For victims and their kin, Esperon stands to defend the system that took away the lives of our families,” said Hustisya chairperson Evangeline Hernandez during a mobilization at the Asian Center in UP Diliman on October 24, 2017 where Hermogenes Esperon is slated to talk. However, Esperon withdrew from the forum and was instead replaced by the spokesperson of the AFP’s Task Force Marawi.

Political prisoners and other detainees sign petition to stop the killings

A signature campaign expressing concern over the widespread drug-related killings was launched by detainees, including political prisoners in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City. The petition, calling to end the spate of killings, was supported by other detainees charged with drug cases. The initiative was started by female political prisoners from the Taguig City Jail – Female Dormitory in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.


URGENT ALERT: Stop the Attacks on Women Human Rights Defenders in the Cordillera, Philippines

18 October 2017

URGENT ALERT: Stop the Attacks on Women Human Rights Defenders in the Cordillera, Philippines

We urgently seek your support against the waves of attacks against women activists in the Cordillera by the 7th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Northern Luzon Command. In the past three months, political persecution endangered the lives and security of women human rights defenders Sarah Abellon-Alikes, Sherry Mae Soledad, Joanne Villanueva, Rachel Mariano, Asia Isabella Gepte and Shirley Ann Angiwot.

Killing of peasants continue under Duterte regime - Karapatan

“There is not only the massacre of urban poor communities in the cities, but there is also the systematic killing of farmers in the countryside. With Duterte’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan wrecking havoc in rural areas, farmers and local peasant organizations have bore the brunt of incessant attacks perpetrated by State security forces. Labeling peasant communities and their leaders as ‘enemies of the State’, the Duterte regime has copied from the same handbook that his predecessors have used as a guide to repress people’s struggles,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay on the ongoing attacks against peasant communities.

As of September 30, 2017, Karapatan has documented 98 victims of political killings, 91 of them are peasants. Many of those killed belong to local farmers’ organizations which have stood firm in asserting their rights, as well as leading campaigns against the militarization of their communities. Perpetrators of killings include soldiers, police personnel, paramilitary groups and private armies of landlords. (List of peasants killed under Duterte is available upon request through karapatan@karapatan.org)

peasants killed

Jail conditions are inhuman and degrading, standards on treatment of prisoners remain ink on paper – Karapatan

“Prisoners are neither okay nor comfortable. The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology’s (BJMP’s) budget per inmate is a meager PhP50 per day, an amount insufficient in providing quality and decent meals and at times subject of corruption by jail officials. Under the Duterte regime, two political prisoners have already died because of grave conditions behind bars, along with scores of other ordinary inmates. There is nothing to be happy about compounding the degrading and inhuman situation already endured by prisoners,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said on President Rodrigo Duterte’s expression of satisfaction in jail conditions in his visit to Camp Bagong Diwa jails yesterday, October 18. 

Duterte communist tag of progressives “same old, dangerous”

“Pres. Duterte is barking like a mad dog again. This time, following the line of previous administrations in branding progressive organizations as communist fronts, Duterte is replicating the same dangerous environment that makes human rights defenders vulnerable to all kinds of rights violations and fascist attacks imaginable,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay on Wednesday. 

Karapatan said this in reaction to Pres. Duterte’s statements on Tuesday that Piston, Kilusang Mayo Uno and Karapatan are legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

On the acquittal of military officer in Jonas Burgos case and the culture of impunity in PH

Karapatan deplores the recent decision of Judge Alfonso Ruiz II of Regional Trial Court Branch 216 in Quezon City, acquitting Maj. Harry Baliaga Jr. from arbitrary detention charges filed on June 2011 by Mrs. Edita Burgos, mother of abducted peasant organizer Jonas Burgos. The court decision is the most recent manifestation of the prevalent climate of impunity in the Philippines, where even a small fry like Baliaga cannot be made accountable for his crimes.   

More than ten years after Jonas Burgos was abducted by State security forces, Jonas is yet to be surfaced by his captors, and justice remains elusive for his family.

On the creation of the PNP-AFP Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA)

The Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action further legitimizes and systematizes the political persecution, illegal arrest, and detention of vocal critics of the Duterte regime's anti-people policies, dissenters and progressive groups through trumped up charges. Coupled with the AFP and PNP's proposals on draconian amendments to the Human Security Act of 2009 and the institution of a national ID system, these schemes pose greater danger to peoples' civil liberties and political rights. 

Recent survey on Duterte reflects non-acceptance of gov’t lies, deception

“Though surveys are not the end-all, be-all of political opinion, it runs consistent with swelling protests and clamor for an end to repressive and fascist policies. The Filipino people see through the government's lies, fake news, deception, and repression, as evidenced by the unrelenting campaigns and struggles for justice of victims of State-sponsored violence, that even recent surveys have to reflect the people's sentiments,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay on the recent survey of the Social Weather Survey (SWS). 

Dumagat political prisoner acquitted from trumped up charges after seven years in prison

"The Philippines is not only known for having one of the slowest internet connections in the world; we are also known for having one of the slowest justice system, especially for those who are poor and oppressed. In the case of Dumagat political prisoner Eddie Cruz, it was seven years in prison, bearing a snail’s pace of  court procedures on the trumped up charges against him. It is an example of the State’s grave and continuing injustice against indigenous peoples’ and those working for genuine change,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, after Judge Lily Villareal Biton of Regional Trial Court Branch 77 in San Mateo, Rizal finally acquitted Cruz from trumped up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives in a promulgation hearing yesterday, October 6, 2017. The court said the prosecution failed to establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt on Cruz’s case. The decision came after 7 years.

Illegal arrest of sixteen indigenous and peasant activists in a week is sign of de facto martial law in PH - Karapatan

“In a week, Karapatan received reports on the illegal arrest and detention of at least sixteen indigenous and peasant activists in Sarangani, Nueva Ecija and Batangas. They are being painted as ‘enemies of the State,’ using the criminal justice system to fabricate charges, as reprisal for their staunch defense of their ancestral land and communities against mining corporations and big landlords. This is de facto martial law under the Duterte regime,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, upon receiving reports of the arrests.

PH government’s delusional denial of EJKs, HRVs committed with impunity merits removal from UN rights body - Karapatan

“If the Duterte administration continues to desperately dismiss the existence of extrajudicial killings and other rights violations, despite overwhelming reports from human rights and people’s organizations within the country and concurrence from other governments, its delusional denial is clear proof that it has no qualification nor credibility to be a member of an international human rights body such as the UN Human Rights Council,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, in reaction to presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella’s statements regarding calls for the removal of the Philippines at the UN HRC. 

Drop boxes for drug, security threats reporting are ineffective, arbitrary – Karapatan

“The dropbox system will neither solve criminality or ensure security of citizens, nor will it address the roots of rebellion in the country. Such solutions are unreliable and short-sighted, and will merely promote unnecessary paranoia and rifts between and among members of a community. With this dropbox system in the course of the bloody drug war and counter-insurgency programs, anyone may be affected and can be targeted, regardless of guilt or innocence. The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the police are essentially re-creating a hit list, and they are asking everyone to write it for them,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay on the dropbox system, as among the provisions in the revised Mamamayang Ayaw sa Anomalya, Mamamayang Ayaw sa Iligal na Droga (MASA-MASID) guidelines released by the DILG.

Karapatan criticizes US fake concern and hypocrisy on EJKs, rights situation in PH

In a statement during the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and its co-signing of the Joint Statement of 39 UNHRC member states, the US government expressed concern regarding the extrajudicial killings and attacks against human rights defenders and indigenous peoples in the Philippines, and on the climate of impunity associated with President Duterte’s drug war.

“Such statements of the US government are plain hypocrisy, as the US continues to fund many programs that have trained and equipped the very same police and military that murder the Filipino people. The US recently extended at least US$2 million assistance for the Duterte government’s drug war, while at least US$180 million was given to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and its counter-insurgency program. Indeed, there is ‘extrajudicial funding’ for these extrajudicial killings, and using the guise of security sector reform, the United States have concealed its direct participation in such programs. Its fake concern and hypocrisy on the human rights situation in the Philippines is revolting,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

Filipino rights activists meet Belgian parliamentarians after PH UPR session at UN

Speaking before the members of the Brussels parliament, human rights organizations under Philippine UPR Watch presented the worsening human rights situation in the Philippines as a result of government’s intensified counter-insurgency operation. The group highlighted the ongoing aerial bombardments of the Philippine army in Batangas Province which reportedly resulted to the killing of a minor and forcible evacuations of hundreds of families.

“As we speak before you, human rights violations continue to occur in the Philippines. In Batangas, a few kilometers away from the nation's capital, hundreds of families were reportedly displaced while a minor died due to the ongoing aerial bombardments of the military,” said National Union of People’s Lawyers secretary general Atty. Ephraim Cortez, who also co-heads the delegation of Philippine UPR Watch that recently attended the 36th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.