2023 Karapatan Year-End Report on the Human Rights Situation in the Philippines

After a year and a half in power, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has more and more epitomized the fascist and terrorist nature of his rule. On the one hand, he presents a carefully cultivated “presidential” image, never delving into his regime’s sordid human rights record. He has gone on several trips abroad in an obvious effort to project an image far removed from that of his dictator-father or even his predecessor, the tyrant Rodrigo Duterte. Strained relations with the Dutertes has had Marcos Jr. recently dangling the possibility of cooperating with the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) investigation of the former president’s bloody war on drugs. Of late, Marcos Jr. has even assumed the dubious role of peace broker, announcing his readiness to resume peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) despite vociferous opposition from Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte.

In reality, Marcos Jr.’s hands drip with the blood of 89 victims of extrajudicial killings slain under his watch. He remains accountable as commander-in-chief for numerous other rights violations with victims that run up to the millions.

Marcos Jr. has restarted the counter-insurgency program patterned after US models and operationalized through the so-called “whole of nation approach,” vindictively mobilizing the resources of the entire state apparatus to profile, surveil, threaten, harass, intimidate and demonize activists and political dissenters, setting them up for more serious human rights violations such as arrest and detention on trumped-up charges, enforced disappearance, or extrajudicial killing.

KARAPATAN has documented as many as 1,609,496 victims who have been threatened, harassed and intimidated under the Marcos Jr. regime, mainly through red- and terrorist-tagging.

The whole of nation approach deliberately blurs distinctions between armed combatants and unarmed civilians and systematically targets and persecutes activists and political dissenters who are viewed as part of the support infrastructure of the armed revolutionary movement. This long-term government policy has thereby been responsible for the steadily deteriorating human rights situation in both rural and urban areas and the escalating violations of International Humanitarian Law.