‘Halimaw sa cauldron’: Karapatan gives preview of effigy for 2019 Int’l Human Rights Day

A day before the commemoration of the International Human Rights Day on Tuesday, December 10, human rights group Karapatan presented a preview of the effigy that will be used for mass actions at the Liwasang Bonifacio and Mendiola in Manila.

Crafted by UGATLahi Artist Collective, a Philippines-based organization of visual artists that promote progressive protest art since the 1990s, the effigy for this year portrays the worsening situation in the Philippines – the result of a fascist, corrupt and anti-people government. Dubbed as “Halimaw sa Cauldron,” the effigy shows a deteriorating Duterte, a representation of his rotting government where corruption, human rights violations, and repression has become rampant. 

“Duterte as ‘halimaw sa cauldron’ represents the economic and political decay of the Philippine society, which has become a breeding ground for tyrants, mass murderers, and plunderers. The effigy depicts nothing but Duterte and his rotting politics,” said Reylan Vergara, Karapatan Vice Chairperson. 

"The effigy likewise shows Duterte's two massive hands, which is a representation of this government's reign on terror. One hand is akin to a claw, where those under it are attacked relentlessly, stripped of their human rights. This is where majority of the Filipino are, as seen in Duterte's sham war on drugs and attacks on critics and dissenters. The other hand shows Duterte's signature clenched fist, which only protects his corrupt allies, friends, military clique, Chinese  and American business partners-in-crime, and local elites, among others," she explained.

The huge hands likewise portrays the Duterte regime's "hand" behind the worsening social ills and human rights violations in the country: “As the President continues to orchestrate all State machineries to preserve the semi-colonial and semi-feudal crisis in the name of profit and subservience to foreign capital and local reactionary classes, people’s rights are undoubtedly put under attack.”

Vergara said that the protest icon also includes a cauldron to depict the overall incompetence and corruption of the Duterte government in organizing the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in the country: “We’ve seen how this regime has prioritized self-serving gains, instead of doing its prime responsibility. The inclusion of the cauldron in this year’s effigy does not only depict grave questions on the corrupt practices of government, but the neglect of people’s welfare in general.”

“With the portrayal of a worsening government, we hope to convey that Duterte’s murderous governance continues to worsen the already gloomy situation of Philippine society. Duterte promised Filipinos of ending social injustices when he campaigned for his candidacy, but the present situation in the country proves that no genuine reforms have been achieved. Thus, with the human rights crisis brought by this situation, we have no choice but to fight back and resist. However, as history as taught us, collective action and unity among sectors is a most powerful tool. We march together on December 10; We #DefendTogether,” Vergara concluded.