Crackdown in PH on IHRD 2020: Duterte makes a mockery of International Human Rights Day with arrest of journalist, six trade un

We never thought that the fascist Duterte regime and its minions could be this shameless and desperate to prove outright that they are rabid and notorious human rights violators, but this day has proven us wrong: they have made a full mockery of International Human Rights Day by unleashing another wave of Gestapoesque police raids today throughout Metro Manila, which has led to the illegal arrests of trade union organizers Dennise Velasco, Rodrigo Esparago, Romina Astudillo, Mark Ryan Cruz, Joel Demate and Jaymie Gregorio Jr., as well as journalist Lady Ann Salem, an editor for progressive online news outlet Manila Today and current communication officer of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television.  

These arrests follow a clear modus operandi ever since the series of police raids and mass arrests in Negros and Manila October and November last year. The search warrants that led to the simultaneous raids today were also issued by Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 89 Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert — and the fact that they were staged today, on the very occasion of International Human Rights Day, sends a loud message: this fascist regime will stop at nothing to bare its fangs against activists, human rights defenders, trade unionists, journalists, and critics as it ramps up its crackdown on dissent in the most brazen of ways, whether it be through legal machinations in the form of questionable search warrants and trumped-up charges based on planted evidence, or worse, cold-blooded rub-out operations disguised as another “nanlaban” case.  

The fabricated charges that are surely coming for Velasco, Esparago, Astudillo, Cruz, Gregorio, Demate and Salem will be predictably used by the rabid red-taggers in the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict as so-called proof to discredit and vilify activists as “criminals” and “terrorists” — and we assert that these are nothing more than cheap propaganda tactics. 

Karapatan strongly calls for their immediate release and to drop these trumped-up charges being hurled against them as we hold Philippine National Police chief Debold Sinas and Executive Judge Burgos-Villavert responsible for these blatant violations of human rights on International Human Rights Day itself. These threats can neither silence nor intimidate us, and we will continue to fight on to resist and end Duterte’s reign of terror.

Photo by AlterMidya