Karapatan scores PH gov’t’s systematic patterns of reprisals vs activists, reiterates call for independent investigation in PH

In statements delivered via video and submitted at the 45th United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC) session yesterday, Karapatan welcomed the report of the UN Secretary General on reprisals, as “it reflects the systemic patterns of reprisals which we see in the Philippines against human rights defenders engaging with the UN.”

In a statement delivered by the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) at the HRC and submitted by international NGO Civicus, Karapatan enumerated the series of attacks and reprisals experienced by its human rights workers, as it engages with the UN Human Rights Council, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Special Procedures, and Treaty Bodies. 

“Karapatan paralegal Zara Alvarez was killed last month. This year alone, our human rights workers defenders Teresita Naul and Alexander Philip Abinguna were arrested and are still detained, while Karapatan colleagues Jay Apiag, Clarizza Singson, Julius Dagatan, Reylan Vergara, Petty Serrano, and myself, routinely receive online and offline attacks on a daily basis, including judicial harassment., while Karapatan paralegal Zara Alvarez was killed last month. Our Secretary General Cristina Palabay has suffered rape and death threats following advocacy at the Council, including to support the adoption of resolution 41/2 on the Philippines last year,” said Roneo Clamor, Karapatan Deputy Secretary General on behalf of Civicus and Karapatan in a written statement submitted to the HRC.  

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, also APWLD Regional Council member, said in her statement that their efforts to obtain legal protection the courts have remained unacted upon and “that such actions or inaction contributed to the killing of two of their (our) colleagues, Zara Alvarez and Ryan Hubilla, who were supposed to testify on the threats to their lives, security and liberty.”

The human rights organization also cited the “baseless accusations” of the Philippine government of Karapatan being a terrorist organization, prompting an independent audit into longstanding funding from the Belgian government. Karapatan said that in the independent process conducted, no irregularities were cited.

The Philippine Human Rights Situationer penned by the Philippine government which was disseminated among diplomatic missions cited the human rights organization as one which has “a long track record of peddling questionable facts and bloated figures concerning cases of deaths and human rights violations in the Philippines.”

“Instead of addressing the facts and evidence we submitted before intergovernmental human rights bodies and independent UN experts, the Philippine government shoots the messengers, literally and figuratively. What government propagandists do not say is the fact that treaty bodies have previously rendered opinions and views on the reports we submitted, and that State actors have been found to be accountable for the human rights violations we cited. What the government propagandists deliberately fail to state are the numerous unanswered communications sent by UN special procedures on the various cases of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detention, threats and reprisals experienced by activists and communities in the Philippines. OHCHR’s records will easily bear this out,” said Palabay. 

She added that “the Philippine government’s situationer is a one-sided narrative that when independent observers would take a hard and closer look at it, they would edit out the lies and the spins and would have only the cover of the report left.”

“We call on the Council to ensure that defenders diligently documenting, monitoring and reporting rights violations in the Philippines and engaging with the Council be protected from harmful rhetoric and public labelling, including red-tagging, which the High Commissioner said has been extremely dangerous. We are activists and human rights defenders; we are not terrorists. We call on the Council to look deeply into these allegations and reports through independent and impartial monitoring and investigation,” Karapatan concluded.

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The following is the copy of the oral statement delivered by Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay before the UN HRC. You can watch the statement delivered via video through this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MCfvncqCFc

 

The following is the copy of the statement submitted by Karapatan Deputy Secretary General Roneo Clamor before the UN HRC.