Karapatan lauds statement of UN SR on climate change and human rights during his official visit

Photo from Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment

Karapatan lauds the exit statement of United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights Dr. Ian Fry calling for the abolition of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and the repeal of the Anti-Terrorism Law (ATL), among other pertinent climate and human rights issues which he investigated during his official visit.

Karapatan noted that Fry is the first UN Special Rapporteur who unequivocally recommended the abolition of NTF-ELCAC and the repeal of the ATA.

Fry, who met with communities, environmental activists and other human rights defenders during his visit to the country from November 6 to 15, decried the systematic red-tagging of environmental human rights defenders and indigenous peoples in the Philippines. He further noted that red-tagging is a serious and continuing concern under the regime of Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said, “Fry’s visit to the country comes at a crucial time. It puts on center stage the sinister role played by the NTF-ELCAC and the dangerous impact of the terror law on the lives and safety of environmental human rights defenders in the country.”

The Philippines has been one of the world’s deadliest countries and Asia’s worst for environmental defenders in the past 10 years. Killings of environmental defenders peaked during the Duterte regime, which accounted for 205 (or 73%) of the 281 defenders slain extajudicially from 2012 to 2022. “But the problem persists under the Marcos Jr. regime, as evidenced by the abduction by state forces last September of environmental activists Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro, who have been campaigning against ecologically destructive reclamation projects along Manila Bay.”

“We commend Dr. Fry for lending his voice to the growing numbers of human rights advocates urgently calling for an end to the menace spawned by the NTF-ELCAC and the continuing threats posed by the Anti-Terrorism Law to the people’s human rights,” concluded Palabay.

Meanwhile, Karapatan said that “the boilerplate responses of NTF-ELCAC to Fry’s observations further expose its propensity to disregard and distort human rights.”

“NTF-ELCAC’s statement that it is a ‘working and effective human rights mechanism’ is a ludicrous claim, considering its track record of propagating lies and its long list of crimes against the Filipino people,” she said.

“As we anticipate Dr. Fry’s full report on his official visit to the Philippines to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2024, we hope that he can also look further into the militarist approach in the counterinsurgency policy of the Marcos Jr. – Duterte administration that drives NTF-ELCAC and the use of the terror law against environmental defenders and communities, as well as the neoliberal policies that spur destructive big reclamation, dam and mining projects that displace and violate rights of the people,” Palabay said.