Human rights advocates and victims yesterday pressed for “international accountability” of the Rodrigo Duterte administration over its alleged “continuing transgressions on civil society and people’s rights.”
In an online press conference, the Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (EcuVoice) also said the approval of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which they branded as a “draconian measure,” will only “worsen the Philippine government’s human rights abuses and violations,” Inquirer.net reported
National Council of Churches in the Philippines General Secretary Bishop Reuel Marigza said the new law is “a travesty against God’s will, a sacrilege and a threat to God’s gift of human dignity.”
“President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing it into law shows he does not listen to the people, especially our sisters and brothers who appealed for him to veto the act, but to his coterie of generals and other sycophants,” he added.
Llore Pasco, who spoke on behalf of Rise Up for Life and for Rights, said that the group expressed its “sincerest appreciation” to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet for bringing attention “to the plight of our families and communities,” as outlined in the report that her office prepared regarding alleged human rights violations and killings under the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
“We find it hard to be hopeful that things are going to get better for human rights under this administration,” added Pasco, a mother to two drug war victims.
The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has earlier reported that human rights violations in the Philippines stemmed from the government’s “heavy-handed” approach against national security threats and illegal drugs.
The report also found “near impunity” in the Philippines’ handling of drug war killings and recommended an end to the government’s “Oplan Tokhang.”
And during the presentation of her office’s report, Bachelet urged Duterte to “refrain from signing” the anti-terrorism bill, saying its passage intensifies concerns on the “blurring of important distinctions between criticism, criminality, and terrorism.” But despite widespread opposition, Duterte signed the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 on July 3, as confirmed by presidential spokesperson Harry Roque. Katribu officer Beverly Longid said she welcomed the UNHRC report and that the signing of the anti-terror law puts indigenous organisations and communities in “more danger”
“In response to our work, the government openly accused our leaders as terrorists or communist supporters or sympathisers. The military refers to our communities and territories as ‘red’ or ‘rebel areas,’ ‘communist infested,’ and ‘NPA strongholds’ and our Lumad schools as rebel schools,” Longid said.
“This has led to the militarization of our territories and countless civil and political rights violations of killings, arrests, and torture,” she added.
As for Ibon Foundation’s Sonny Africa, the Duterte administration’s concern for the social and economic rights of the people is “just for show and when profits of the few are affected.”
“We are in the worst public health and economic crisis in the country’s history, yet the government still insists on grandiose infrastructure projects, debt service to creditors, subsidising corporate profits and now terrorising the people through this draconian law, instead of containing the pandemic, treating Covid-19 patients and giving emergency relief,” the local think-tank’s executive director said.
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