On International Human Rights Day 2018: Stop the Attacks! Defend People’s Rights! Resist Dictatorship!

“The Duterte regime is a government that willfully violates people’s rights; it is not a government for the people. It has merely strengthened a system that only affords due process, justice, and privileges to the elite, leaving the rest of us as targets of rights abuses and spiraling poverty. As we mark International Human Rights Day, a day commemorating the 70th year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with protest, we likewise register our continuing resolve to defend people’s rights and resist tyranny and dictatorship,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay on December 10, 2018 in Liwasang Bonifacio and Mendiola. 

National and international actions are simultaneously being held at more than 20 cities in the Philippines and key cities in Europe, US, Canada, Asia, and Australia to mark December 10 as a day of protest against repression and tyranny.

Karapatan and artist group UgatLahi Artist Collective unveiled an effigy dubbed “Portraits of DuterTyranny. The effigy contained 8 panels mounted on a sliding frame – four of the panels show Duterte’s faces while the rest showcase the spectrum of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights violations perpetrated by the Duterte regime. The four faces show 1.) Duterte in the form of a devilish tyrant ; 2.) a power-addicted Duterte; 3.) Duterte morphed into Hitler; and 4.) Duterte as a lapdog ("tuta"). These four faces correspond to a spectrum of violations, namely martial law in Mindanao, the war on drugs, extrajudicial killings and illegal arrests, and economic plunder and subservience to imperialist powers, particularly the US and China. The panels were mounted in a sliding frame, the topmost portion of which was designed to form the symbol of a swastika.

“Regardless of the government’s repeated denial of violations, the evidence is overwhelming. Victims and their relatives are marching with us, demanding for justice and accountability. The Duterte regime has implemented a succession of anti-people policies, and it has claimed the lives of thousands of Filipinos who were stripped of their fundamental rights. This government has blazed down the track of militarism and repression. In effect, there is a growing movement determined to put an end to the attacks and resist tyranny,” added Palabay.

 The Karapatan official also assailed the acquittal and lack of accountability involving Duterte’s known allies. “While the Filipino people is being burdened by taxes and being made to shoulder a ballooning debt, those who have plundered and benefited the most from these dubious deals are made to escape accountability. It is enraging to see the charade of innocence from Imelda Marcos, Gloria Arroyo, Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla and other corrupt politicians when so many others have simply been killed off the streets for being mere suspects, or for standing up to their beliefs. This double standard is a trademark of the Duterte regime. He is the President who is generous to his millionaire friends while ruthless to those barely making ends meet,” she emphasized. 

As of November 2018, Karapatan has documented the following rights violations in line with counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan: 216 extrajudicial killings, 378 victims of frustrated killings, 100 victims of torture, around 2,000 victims of illegal arrests, 71, 520 victims of threat and harassment, and 447, 963 individuals displaced from their communities due to bombings and military operations. The number of political prisoners under Duterte have likewise increased, now numbering to 540 individuals, 203 of them were arrested during his term. Palabay explained that this is the direct result of Duterte’s anti-people policies, piled on top of each other.

Yesterday, December 9, political prisoner and peasant leader Alex Arias,63, died at the Rizal Medical Center in Pasig City, due to a heart attack. Ka Alex, as he is called, is the former chairperson of Pagkakaisa't Lakas ng Magsasaka sa Laguna (PUMALAG), an organization of farmers in Laguna. He was arbitrarily arrested on trumped up charges of murder and kidnapping on April 2012. An ailing and elderly political prisoner, Arias suffered from hypertension and diabetes mellitus type/ Arias is the 3rd political prisoner who died while in detention under the Duterte administration. Human rights groups have been campaigning for the release of Arias and the 120 sickly political prisoners on just and humanitarian grounds, but such pleas have been rejected by the Duterte administration. "This is all the more enraging, following the parade of releases and acquittals prepared by the Duterte regime for its friends and fellow criminals," Palabay added. 
 
 
(Photo: Arias, with yellow shirt, in the middle. Taken during a hearing on his case last December 3, 2018)
 
“From Duterte’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan, to the war on drugs, to martial law in Mindanao, to the creation of the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA), to a federal system that will take away term limits for politicians, the Duterte regime is shoving repression down our throats, coupled with lies and ludicrous justifications. Today, we mark the International Human Rights Day with our defiance. People’s rights will have to be fought for, especially amid Duterte’s tyrannical rule, but we will push back along with all the victims and families of State terrorism. Stop the Attacks! Defend People’s Rights!” ended Palabay.