Civicus Monitor update a year into the Marcos Jr. presidency

July 13, 2023 | Civicus Monitor

Dear friends and colleagues,

We are sharing with you the latest Civicus Monitor update a year into the Marcos Jr. presidency.

Civicus is a global civil society alliance of organisations at the local, national, regional and international levels, and spans the spectrum of civil society. Karapatan is a member of Civicus.

Karapatan Public Information Desk



The state of civic space in the Philippines is rated as repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor. Concerns documented in recent years include the arrest and detention of activists often on fabricated charges. Civil society has also documented the criminalisation, harassment and attacks against journalists. Human rights defenders have been ‘red-tagged’, putting them at risk of arrest or even killing. Restrictions on foreign funding for NGOs have also been documented. Accountability for these actions has been virtually non-existent.

On 27th March 2023, the UN Human Rights Council adopted the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report of the Philippines. The government supported, among others, recommendations to investigate thoroughly the deaths, threats and harassment of journalists; ensure a safe and enabling environment for civil society and re-examine libel provisions in the revised Penal Code and the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, to ensure that these laws are not used to limit freedom of expression.

However, it only noted recommendations to release without delay all persons arbitrarily detained; take immediate action to publicly condemn, at the highest levels, the use of excessive and disproportionate force by security forces and provide adequate protection to journalists and human rights defenders.

One year on, since President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. took office on 30th June 2022, civil society says there has been little action to improve human rights protections in the Philippines. According to human rights group Karapatan, extrajudicial killings (EJKs) have not only continued, but the policies that spur them are firmly in place. The Marcos Jr. regime continues the practice of unjustly jailing activists and other dissenters, slapping them with trumped-up charges in order to justify their prolonged detention. The group said one of the most alarming trends is the rapid rise in the number of involuntary disappearances. Eight victims of enforced disappearance have been documented in the first ten months of Marcos Jr.’s rule.

Human Rights Watch said that the Marcos administration has increased the dangerous and at times fatal ‘red-tagging’ of activists deemed to be supporting the insurgents. Further, the authorities are still arbitrarily arresting and detaining activists.

Since April 2023, there have been reports of the killing of a labour organiser in Bacolod, disappearances of two indigenous rights defenders from the Cordillera region, surveillance of activists and a peasant activist arrested in Bohol. Former senator De Lima, acquitted in two cases, has still been denied bail. Two activists have been arrested under the anti-terrorism law while an army resolution in Kalinga increases restrictions and risks for NGOs. A radio broadcaster in Calapan was killed by gunmen while another journalist and family were attacked in Quezon City. The police arrested two student activists following a protest against military exercise and also worked with a nickel company in Palawan to remove a barricade and arrest protesters.

For the full report: Civicus Monitor update