Rights group scores Duterte gov’t on worsening attacks vs rights defenders in PH

As the world marks the anniversary of the 1998 adoption of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders today, December 9, 2020, Karapatan scored the Duterte administration “over the worsening attacks against movements, groups and individuals fighting for people’s rights and freedoms, with the rising tide of state terror in the Philippines.”

“With the increasing attacks against defenders, critics and dissenters through red-tagging, arrests and detention, extrajudicial killings and other rights violations, the pretext for the implementation of the draconian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 is being laid down in a desperate attempt to quell unrest and dissent over anti-people policies, including those that worsen the economic conditions of the poor during the pandemic,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

The most recent of which, Palabay said, are the public pronouncements of government officials and President Rodrigo Duterte against progressive opposition legislators like lawyer Carlos Zarate and indigenous woman leader Eufemia Cullamat, both representatives of party-list Bayan Muna, and the three other members of the Makabayan bloc of the House of Representatives. Zarate, Cullamat and the rest of the Makabayan Coalition are among the main authors of legislation tackling people’s rights and concerns, including the Human Rights Defenders Protection Bill, a proposed measure recognizing and providing protection for human rights defenders against rights violations including red-tagging.

“The dangerous rhetoric and tirades against these progressive legislators expose them to further harm, seek to impede the discharge of their functions within and outside the House of Representatives, and essentially deny the political participation of poor communities and of the public. The administration has done such to Sen. Leila de Lima and other opposition officials,” Palabay stated.

Karapatan also cited the arbitrary/illegal arrests of several rights workers of Karapatan like Alexander Philip Abinguna and Teresita Naul and the killing of Zara Alvarez and Randall Echanis as cases which show the ”worsening trend of violations committed by the government against human rights defenders.


‘DuterTerorismo’: A preview of Int’l Human Rights Day 2020 effigy

Also today, Karapatan gave a preview of the effigy for this year’s International Human Rights Day – a protest art crafted by UgatLahi Artist Collective, a Philippines-based organization of visual artists that promote progressive artworks since the 1990s.

The effigy for this year, according to Palabay, presents the impacts of State terrorism on state of human rights in the country in the midst of disasters and a serious health crisis that hit the country, and how the Filipino people stand firm in their struggle for people’s rights and welfare.

UgatLahi spokesperson Isis Molintas said the people’s campaigns for dignity, food and land, living wages and decent work, accessible health, housing, and education services, free expression and justice are embodied in the effigy.

Isinasalarawan ng effigy ang kasalukuyang sosyo-politikal na kalagayan ng ating bansa. Pangunahing isyu dito ang pabaya at kriminal na pagtugon sa pandemya at sa sakuna – na sa kabila ng tumitinding economic at health crisis, mas binibigyang importansya ng estado ang militarisasyon, at pagrered-tag at pagpatay sa mga aktibista,” she said.

Karapatan and the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan will lead the nationwide protest tomorrow.