February, 2019

Karapatan on EDSA People Power’s 33rd anniversary: Dictatorship looms once again

Today, we are one with the Filipino people in commemorating the 33rd anniversary of the EDSA People Power. Karapatan remembers all the martyrs and victims of the brutal Marcos regime, and hails the unity of the Filipino people in toppling the Marcos dictatorship. This momentous event in our history should never be credited to one family, or to specific persons, but rather to the millions who marched and courageously fought tyranny and dictatorship. The EDSA People Power I reminds us that power emanates from the people and abusive governments will be held to account for their crimes.

Duterte govt’s black propaganda junket in Europe, UN shows its desperation to bury injustices

“The Duterte goverment’s black propaganda junket in Europe and at the United Nations was a desperate move to deodorize its notorious human rights record and to evade accountability for its crimes and tyrannical acts. It has repeatedly rejected calls for independent investigations by human rights experts and has barely responded substantially to communications sent by UN offices regarding cases of rights violations. Through a national task force composed of militarists and mercenary hacks, it is promoting a most unbelievable lie - that government is correct and everyone else is wrong. What is however apparent is its ellaborative effort to hide the injustices apparent in the country,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

Rights group slams military hitlist in Northern Mindanao, continuing detention of rights defenders

Karapatan deplores the release of what it calls a military hit list, as yet another case of harassment against human rights defenders in Northern Mindanao. 

At around 10:30 A.M. today, January 22, 2019, in the middle of the Hustisya-Northern Mindanao assembly and launching at the Philtown Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City, a suspected military agent approached the security guard of the said hotel and handed him two brown envelopes. Each envelope contained 13 copies of flyers listing organizations of youth and teachers, and tagging names of church workers, lawyers, rights advocates and that of a journalist, as “terrorist members of the New People’s Army and Communist Party of the Philippines.”

PH already under military rule as Duterte doles out key gov’t positions to military, police

“Retiring or retired uniformed officers have a guaranteed career ahead of them under the Duterte regime. As a reward for the incessant human rights violations directed and funded by the government, these butchers are appointed to key civilian positions. Duterte not only coddles the masterminds of the most atrocious crimes, but ensures they are positioned in strategic roles to perpetrate more abuses. Along with our expression of outrage on the 3rd martial law extension in Mindanao, we likewise condemn the blatant positioning of militarists who usurp and cripple civilian functions to give way to nationwide military rule,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay in light of the appointment of another ex-military as undersecretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Indigenous, peasant activists in Northern Mindanao charged with trumped up anti-terror case

Indigenous, peasant activists in Northern Mindanao charged with
trumped up anti-terror case
Dear friends,
The Duterte government stepped up its attacks against activists and dissenters. In Mindanao, in two separate but related incidents, leaders and members of a local farmers' group and an indigenous organization were illegally arrested and spuriously charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives, rebellion, and violations under the Human Security Act (HSA) or the Anti-Terror Law.

The Human Security Act, or RA 9372, is the Philippines’s answer to the anti-terror backlash over the September 11, 2001 attack at the World Trade Center in New York. This law was passed in 2007 amid criticisms on its possible dire impacts on the civil and political rights of Filipino citizens and its use against those critical of the government. One of the major views levelled against the anti-terror law was its weak and vague definition of “terrorism,” which may encompass legitimate redress of grievances like union strikes, public rallies and the like. Also, a suspected “terrorist” may be arrested without a warrant, and detained indefinitely without charges. His assets may be frozen and, when convicted, may be incarcerated for 40 years without parole.

The Leyte case – “revival of martial law years”

“This trial is a revival of the martial law years. It’s sickening.” 

It has been nearly ten years since the late Senator Joker Arroyo uttered these words when he took the witness stand on February 27, 2009 at the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32 in defense of Vicente Ladlad, one of the respondents in the government-manufactured case involving the purported discovery of a mass grave at Inopacan, Leyte of supposed victims of execution by the CPP-NPA. 

PCOO officials’ trip in Europe on tax payer’s money, a junket to salvage PH govt’s notorious HR record

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Jose Andanar revealed in a news release on February 18 that the agency’s officials were sent to Europe to be part of the government’s official delegation as part of the National Task Force (NTF) to End Communist Armed Conflict and to clarify the issue on involuntary disappearances.

UN WGEID urged to reject PH move to delist more than 600 cases of enforced disappearances

In a recent news release of the Department of Foreign Affairs on February 15, the Philippine government, through government officials led by those in the Presidential Human Rights Committee has moved to delist at least 625 cases of enforced disappearances, mostly attributed to State forces from 1975 to 2012, reported to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UN WGEID). The news release cited the country’s “strong legal framework and institutional mechanisms to address enforced disappearances.”  


Dear friends and colleagues,

Karapatan’s website www.karapatan.org has been inaccessible since January 20, 2019. We were careful not to automatically attribute this problem to a possible cyberattack against our web page. However, after much troubleshooting, our website continued to receive an abnormal load of traffic which was more than what the provider can handle. After requesting assistance from Quirum, a Sweden-based non-profit secure hosting provider for independent media and human rights organiztions, to investigate, initial findings show that the signature of the attacks was identical to those of Philippine alternative media groups Bulatlat, Altermidya, and Pinoy Weekly. We, therefore, confirm that the inaccessibility of our website is due to a targeted Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack from a source intent on silencing Karapatan’s platform for online advocacy.

Terror tag still hounds rights defenders even as court cuts down list to two individuals

“Despite the recent court decision cutting down the names of those included in the Justice Department’s proscription petition from more than 600 names to 8, then finally down to 2 individuals, rights defenders and political dissenters initially included remain vulnerable to attacks. This is not a reprieve. So long as the proscription case remains, it will be further fuel and justify the government’s obsession to crackdown on progressive groups. In light of the proposed amendments to the Human Security Act of 2007, or Anti-Terror Law, we cannot stress enough how dangerous this petition is in the hands of a fascist maniac like Duterte,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

Karapatan on the arrest and detention of Rappler’s Maria Ressa

The arrest of journalist Maria Ressa and the absurd charges against her and online news site Rappler are all about freedom of expression in the Philippines.

It is indicative of a vindictive government which is intent on dominating all forms of media with its own twisted narratives, while simultaneously cutting off any platform for others to express alternative opinions. Evidence-based findings that prove critical to the anti-people campaigns of the regime are shut down while fake news and deliberate lies are massively peddled by state-backed keyboard warriors.

Military, police should be investigated for torture allegations of suspect in Jolo church blast

On Friday, February 8, 2019, the lawyer of Mukammar Pae, the alleged Jolo church blast suspect, asserted that his client was innocent and was tortured by the police to admit to the crime. Lawyer Meltoni Sibulan further refuted the police in the latter’s claim that Pae and three other men “surrendered” to them. According to Sibulan, Pae and his three other companions were tree cutters and lumberyard workers who wanted to clear their name. The victims presented themselves to the 35th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA), after which they were turned over to the police. Immediately after, Pae was illegally arrested, tortured and detained. Sibulan added that his client was subjected to waterboarding.

Proposed amendments to anti-terror law will place PH under martial law

“Amending the Human Security Act of 2007, or the anti-terror law, in accordance to the Duterte government’s agenda will place the entire Philippines under martial law. This as much was admitted by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, when he said that they can do away with martial law in Mindanao if Congress will enact the proposed measures,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, as the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs endorsed its committee report to the Senate plenary yesterday.

Karapatan wary of series of harassment involving church workers and local leaders, says this is a prelude to killings

“Nobody is safe in this country, not even those in the church sector and communities. We now live at a time when men in motorcycles immediately spark fear and suspicion, as they have been used in numerous killings. In the first few months this 2019, we have received frequent reports of threats and harassment, many involving priests. This comes after several extrajudicial killings of Catholic priests in 2018, the incessant vandalisms around the vicinity of churches, and the recent “challenge” given by the President to inflict harm on bishops, among other church workers. Thus, harassment and intimidation in all its forms, given this particular context, is a cause for alarm,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, emphasizing that harassment and threats are often a prelude to killings. 

Karapatan condemns PNP’s harassment vs Malayao’s sister, supporters

“For the nth time, the Philippine National Police is once again deflecting accountability on the killing of peace consultant Randy Malayao. Instead of working swiftly to resolve this case given the sketch and the CCTV footage, the police slanders Malayao and files absurd charges against his sister, lawyer Atty. Edu Balgos and his wife, Rina Balgos. The Balgoses assisted Malayao’s family in claiming his belongings. The police officers yielded precisely because it is within the right of Malayao’s family to obtain possession of his personal effects. The police knew they were not in any position to withhold these items,”  said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay on recent statements of the PNP on Malayao’s case.

Karapatan calls for the dismissal of trumped-up charges vs trade union organizers Maojo Maga and Juan Alexander Reyes

“Trade unionists are under attack. With the onslaught of neoliberal policies that unilaterally favor companies and business tycoons, their profits come at the expense of workers’ rights. Legitimate initiatives of workers to assert their rights and welfare have been hampered by a string of anti-worker schemes such as contractualization and union busting. Meanwhile, trade unionists and organizers among workers have been subjected to illegal arrests, trumped-up charges, among other forms of human rights violations,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, particularly citing the cases of Marklen Maojo Maga and Juan Alexander Reyes. On February 6, 2019, hearings will be held on Maga and Reyes’ case in San Mateo, Rizal and Quezon City, respectively. 

PNP Region II’s malicious, unsubstantiated statements deflect State accountability on the killing of Malayao

“There is now a barrage of malicious and false allegations hurled against peace consultant Randy Malayao. Attacking a dead person to justify his killing is the odious handiwork of Malayao’s murderers and their protectors. Instead of focusing on an impartial investigation, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has been busying itself with circulating baseless, unsubstantiated, and malicious rumors about Malayao and creating intrigue on his death. The police have become akin to a deranged paparazzis in uniform, resulting from the State actors’ paranoia of being discovered as the perpetrators. Perhaps no one can play as dirty and as downright callous as the Duterte regime and its gamut of paid mercenaries and propaganda machine,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, in response to the accusations of the Philippine National Police Region II against Malayao.

Karapatan deplores pattern of killings, arrests of civilians abducted by military or police in Mindanao this January 2019

“There is now an ongoing trend of activists going missing, only to be later located in military camps or police stations or worse, dead. After abducting these individuals, the military and the police then spin ludicrous stories that they are either surrenderees or members of the New People’s Army (NPA), or their abduction already ‘cured’ by trumped-up criminal charges. Those who have been killed by suspected State forces are claimed to have been fatalities during armed encounters – another fantastic permutation of the worn-out ‘nanlaban’ narrative. It’s one outrageous lie after the other,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, citing recent cases of human rights violations in Mindanao.