October, 2022

Karapatan condemns arrest of trade union activist in Quezon City

Rights group Karapatan condemned the arrest of trade union activist Benjamin Cordero, the most recent in what they believed to be another round of attacks against trade union activists and workers’s rights defenders.

According to initial reports from Karapatan Metro Manila, Cordero was arrested at past 11:00pm on October 26, 2022 in his home in Quezon City. He was reportedly served with a warrant of arrest dated October 24 based on charges of frustrated homicide issued by Branch 77 of the San Mateo, Rizal Regional Trial Court. He is currently detained at Batasan Police Station 6, Quezon City. Recommended bail is at P72,000.

Rights group calls on UN expert to look into disinformation, red-tagging vs journos, activists

Rights group Karapatan denounced the most recent disinformation campaigns and wholesale red-tagging against journalists and human rights defenders in the Philippines, and said that such acts violate and impact on the exercise of press freedom and freedom of expression in the country.

“We call on the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression to look into this dangerous pattern of disinformation and red-tagging which affects the exercise of press freedom and freedom of expression, when she conducts her reported official visit in 2023. We likewise call on the companies of social media platforms such as Meta, Youtube, Tiktok, and Twitter to address the deluge of online disinformation and threats against the journalists and activists,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general.

On the appointment of ex-PNP chief as DOH undersecretary

The appointment of former chief of the Philippine National Police Camilo Cascolan as Department of Health (DoH) undersecretary is both a grave insult to the thousands of victims of extrajudicial killings in the Duterte administration’s sham drug war and a rip-off from the playbook of his father and Rodrigo Duterte, when they militarized civilian bureaucracy during their terms.

The country has too many civilian health experts and professionals, as well as career officials who can offer more substantive and qualified public service through the DoH, but the president chose to appoint a police general, one of the brains and implementers of the murderous Oplan Tokhang (Oplan Double Barrel) campaign, in the agency.

Rights group decries threats vs journos’, civilians’ right to privacy

Human rights alliance Karapatan decried the stepped up State encroachment on civilians’ right to privacy and against increasing threats, amid reports of so-called “visits” to homes or offices of journalists.

Over the weekend, a number of journalists were alarmed by unannounced visits to their homes by alleged Philippine National Police personnel, who were purportedly checking on whether they had been receiving threats.

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay slammed the unsolicited visits to journalists’ homes as a “blatant invasion of privacy” and “ill-disguised threat and harassment.” The visits, which were not coordinated with offices of concerned journalists, came just days after vlogger and hard-hitting government critic Percy Lapid was gunned down and broadcasters Ed Lingao and Lourd de Veyra received death threats online.

Protect lawyers and human rights defenders, stop red-tagging and threats against them

Karapatan today reiterated its support for the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), as the lawyers’ group filed a manifestation urging the Supreme Court to reconsider the Court of Appeals’ decision dismissing their petition for the writ of amparo and habeas data which was filed in 2019.

“While it is laudable that the Supreme Court issued a warning to a certain notorious red-tagger over her statements against Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar, we call on the Supreme Court to heed the call of NUPL for legal protection as their officers and members have faced dangers due to such nefarious practice and other human rights violations,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

On the statements of Justice Sec. Remulla on redtagging at the UN Human Rights Committee Review on the Philippines

We hope that the independent human rights experts of the UN Human Rights Committee will see through the warped logic of Justice Secretary Boying Remulla on his statements regarding redtagging.

Redtagging especially of State forces and their adjuncts has dire consequences on persons, families, organizations and communities - killings, arbitrary arrests and imprisonment, torture, enforced disappearances and more. Feigning ignorance on these consequences and packaging these threats as mere exercise of freedom of expression are clear signals of a policy of tolerance for human rights violations and impunity.  

Stop military operations in Himamaylan, Negros Occidental - Karapatan

Human rights alliance Karapatan condemned the reported humanitarian crisis and human rights violations in Himamaylan town, Negros Occidental as a result of continuing military operations since October 6, 2022.

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay cited reports from Karapatan-Negros on the indiscriminate bombings and strafing of the 94th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army in the areas bordering the villages of Carabalan and Mahalang with artillery and machine gun fire, shooting at rivers, sugarcane fields and forest trees after clashes with the New People’s Army on October 6 and 8.  

SIM card registration law brings false security, greater threat to people’s rights

“The SIM card registration is another attempt of the government to institute false public security, when it has failed to uphold the people’s right to security and privacy by being the primary source and enabler of more threats like data breaches, surveillance and poor implementation of laws on data privacy,” said rights group Karapatan, as it deplored the passage of the law signed yesterday by Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.

Rights group Karapatan said that the SIM card registration law may be a prelude to more breaches to the security and privacy of the people, when in fact, the government has continued to fail in implementing the Data Privacy Act, and enforce the law against scammers and hackers, among others.

Prevalence of impunity, rights violations belies gov’t’s claims on HR situation in PH in UN treaty body’s human rights review

A decade since its last review, the Philippine government will undergo scrutiny by the UN Human Rights Committee on October 11 and 12, 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland on its compliance to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the treaty body’s recommendations in its 2012 review.

Based on reports, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla will be leading the Philippine government’s delegation in the review in the next two days (9pm to 12midnight PHT).

Prevailing impunity, continuing human rights violations on Marcos Jr.’s first 100 days in office

“The absence of justice and accountability for the human rights violations committed during the Duterte administration and the continuing grave attacks on human and people’s rights in the country, which are driven by the policies on the drug war and counterinsurgency programs, are fuelling the climate of impunity that is so stark during the first 100 days in office of the Marcos Jr. administration,” said rights group Karapatan, as it marked the occasion in a protest action in Manila on Saturday, October 8.

According to Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, "there has been no let-up in extrajudicial killings, red-tagging, threats and intimidation and other state-sponsored attacks against dissenters and communities, even in the midst of the worsening impacts of the economic crisis on the poor majority.”

PH UPR Watch: PH gov’t in fantasy world pf contradictions at UN Human Rights Council session

Some big words and promises were bellowed by the Philippine government through Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla before the 51st Regular Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland on October 5, 2022. Among its claims was that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is a “unifying” leader who is undertaking ‘transformational’ reform of the country’s justice and law enforcement sectors. He said that the Marcos Jr. administration is protecting the human rights of all citizens. Sec. Remulla also made other gaudy claims, such as reforms being made within the first 100 days of the Marcos administration. He boasted that the Philippines judicial and law enforcement systems go beyond international standards and best practices.

PH UPR Watch to UN Human Rights Council: Investigate human rights situation in PH

Broadcast commentator Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa was brutally and brazenly murder last Monday, October 4, 2022. He is the second journalist to have been murdered under the Marcos Jr. administration. Only last September 18, broadcaster Rey Blanco was knifed to death in Negros. Their deaths—the 197th and 196th case of media killings since the supposed restoration of Philippine democracy in 1986 - came slightly more than two weeks apart, an ominous sign of what the people may expect from this new government.

It is not only by killing that murderers resort to when they want to silence journalists and other perceived dissenters. Last month, a provincial governor and her husband (a public works and highways regional director) reportedly filed a total of 941 cyberlibel charges against two broadcasters, using “lawfare” and power to intimidate critics into submission or silence. There are also dozens of new cyber-libel and trumped up cases filed against journalists and critics throughout the country since July 1, 2022.

Continuing rights violations, lack of accountability should impel UN Human Rights Council to investigate rights situation in PH

“The killing of broadcast journalist Percival Mabasa, the continuing lack of accountability for the killings in the drug war and counterinsurgency campaigns, and the unabated red-tagging spree of rights defenders, government critics, and even members of the judiciary by state forces and government officials sound the alarm for the pressing imperative for independent investigation on the human rights situation in the Philippines.”

Thus said rights group Karapatan, as representatives of the Philippine government led by Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla deliver statements during the enhanced interactive dialogue at the 51st regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) today, October 5.

Abolish NTF-ELCAC, hold Badoy-Partosa accountable for crimes

Human rights group Karapatan renewed its call for the abolition of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), as the task force commended its former spokesperson Lorraine Badoy-Partosa after she had been widely criticized by lawyers’ groups and individuals over her red-tagging and reported threats of Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar. The group also scored former President Rodrigo Duterte and the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) over statements and resolutions calling for the “full activation” of the NTF-ELCAC.

“Clearly, the Marcos Jr. administration, through the NTF-ELCAC and allies such as Duterte and the PDP-Laban, continue to coddle the likes of Badoy-Partosa because notorious red-taggers like her pursue their bankrupt and militarist counterinsurgency framework, which has resulted in numerous extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.