Karapatan cites erroneous, malicious PH gov’t report in SC petition vs terror law

During the physical filing of the petition on July 23 before the Supreme Court by Karapatan, Bayan, Movement Against Tyranny and other civil libertarians against the Anti-Terrorism Act, Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, one of the petitioners, said that “the recent erroneous and malicious Philippine government report disseminated among members and observers at the United Nations Human Rights Council, tagging human rights defenders and civil society in the Philippines as ‘communist front organizations’ and ‘terrorists,’ is precisely one of the glaring reasons why the draconian law’s impending implementation is insidiously dangerous.”

“Without providing an iota of valid and reliable evidence, the Philippine government has resorted and continues to resort to hurling false, malicious, and baseless allegations against Karapatan and other organizations before the public and in forums such as international bodies, in spite of independent audits and reports providing hard evidence debunking such allegations. They have disparaged Karapatan for supposedly ‘exploiting’ international human rights mechanisms in order to deflect the fact that the reports of human rights violations documented by Karapatan expose the rampant impunity and State-perpetrated attacks on human rights defenders in the country. This report further proves that the Anti-Terrorism Act will only legitimize condemnable practices such as red-tagging, that the law is a State weapon against dissent,” Palabay said, citing the inclusion of the said report as among the “Exhibit A” in the petition they co-filed before the Supreme Court.

The Karapatan officer recalled the recent report of UN High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet citing the attacks on human rights defenders from Karapatan, as well as official interventions of Belgian Development Cooperation Minister Alexander de Croo before the Belgian government’s Commission on External Relations meeting on independent audits conducted on Karapatan and other vilified NGOs citing no irregularity nor illegal activity by these NGOs in Belgium or in the Philippines in relation to their project activities with these organizations.

Links to said report and intervention:

https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/PH/Philippines-HRC44-AEV.pdf
https://www.dekamer.be/doc/CCRI/pdf/55/ic075x.pdf

Karapatan averred that the Duterte administration, through the report published by the Presidential Communications Operations Office and Bureau of Communications Services disseminated by the Department of Foreign Affairs in June 4, shoots messengers such as Karapatan instead of directly addressing the numerous cases of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary and illegal arrests and threats it reported to UN Special Procedures and human rights bodies.

“It is lamentable that the Philippine government, in its desperate attempt to evade accountability for its human rights violations and its failure to comply with human rights obligations, engages in gross disinformation, lies and vilification of human rights defenders, journalists and critics even in the UN HRC. Records of the Office of the High Commissioner will bear out that the Philippine government has either no response or has not substantially responded to the complaints brought before UN Special Procedures. If domestic mechanisms are indeed working to address human rights violations, why can’t the Philippine government prove it before the international community?” Palabay asked.

“Through this petition and the many other constitutional challenges to the Anti-Terrorism Act, we call on the Supreme Court to show and exercise judicial independence by declaring the terror law unconstitutional and violative of international human rights obligations. The number of petitions and legal luminaries petitioning against the law already speaks of the massive opposition to the blatantly unconstitutional measure, and we strongly urge the high court to stand for human rights and civil liberties, lest it be considered as a mere mouthpiece and extension of the executive,” she concluded.

A copy of the Philippine government's human rights situationer report can be accessed through this link: http://genevapm.ph/HRC/PHRS.pdf