DILG mimicking civil society voice through GONGOs to advance gov’t fascist agenda —Karapatan

Human rights alliance Karapatan condemns in strongest terms the “Rally for Peace and Prosperity” in Mendiola last Wednesday, January 29, supposedly organized by several “cause-oriented” groups with the endorsement of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). The rights group said that the “protest” against progressive lawmakers and organizations is “a desperate attempt by the government to manufacture support for its fascist and anti-people policies.”

“Complete with high-quality print standees, placards, streamers, and a DILG memo to boot, the government is merely making a fool of itself by staging a so-called protest against people’s organizations and solons of the Makabayan bloc. One must wonder how much taxpayer’s money was wasted on it by the DILG amid other pressing and urgent matters,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

A DILG memo endorsing the event signed by DILG Secretary Eduardo Año states that the rally is “in support to the implementation of Executive Order No. 70” which institutionalizes the whole-of-nation approach in the government’s counterinsurgency program and the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) which has facilitated countless fascist attacks against the people since it was formed.

Along with mobilizing the entire civilian government for counterinsurgency through the NTF-ELCAC, the whole-of-nation approach also mobilizes the private sector and civil society organizations. Palabay stated that the government easily skirts this by creating Government-Organized Non-Government Organizations (GONGOs).

“Creating GONGOs is a well-known tactic used by repressive governments to deceive the public. More than wasting taxpayer’s money, this so-called protest staged by these GONGOs is an alarming affront to the already shrinking democratic and civic spaces in the country. Amid calls from legitimate NGOs to rescind Executive Order No. 70, resume the peace talks, and the people’s growing clamor for genuine change and social justice, the Duterte regime is now trying to appropriate, mimic, and muzzle the civil society voice to create the populist illusion of grassroots mobilization supporting the government's fascist and anti-people agenda—but nothing could be farther from the truth,” the Karapatan official elaborated.

“With the shrinking of civic spaces under this authoritarian regime from the relentless red-tagging and vilification of legitimate NGOs, to threats of closure and revocation of registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission, these GONGOs are meant for the government to haphazardly occupy the civic spaces we have left. Nonetheless, we will continue to expose and oppose these desperate efforts by the government to silence the civil society voice and the people’s resistance to Duterte's fascist rule,” she concluded.