No let-up on the quest for justice

In October 2022, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla led the government delegation during the fifth periodic review of the Philippines by the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Switzerland.

The result was just as expected. On November 4, the UN Human Rights Committee released its concluding observations, calling out the Philippine government on its woeful human rights record. No amount of whitewashing and platitudes can convince the world it is doing enough.

Kin of "desaparecidos" echo call for justice, lambasts gov't "apathy"

Families and friends of desaparecidos, or victims of enforced disappearance under the group Desaparecidos (Families of the Disappeared for Justice) decried the "state's apparent disregard for accountability and justice" as they remember the memories of their loved ones on All Souls Day.

"We commemorate the memories and the bravery of our friends and family members who were forcibly taken from us, despite not having any graves to offer candles and flowers, nor any idea about their whereabouts. We also honor and remember the deceased relatives of desaparecidos who tirelessly demanded for justice and sought answers about their loved ones," said Erlinda Cadapan, Desaparecidos national chairperson.

Apayao governor’s recent order encourages commission of extrajudicial killing, other rights violations

Human rights group Karapatan slammed Apayao Provincial Governor Elias Bulut, Jr. for issuing “an official order that may potentially be used to drive and encourage the commission of extrajudicial killings.”

In an executive order dated September 30, 2022 Bulut offered reward money of P100,000 for anyone who “captures, arrests or kills in a legitimate military operation a member of the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG).” The governor upped the bounty to P1,000,000 if the person arrested, captured or killed is a “high-ranking CTG personality.”

This is a kill order, said Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay. “It gives the go-signal for anyone to arbitrarily attack and kill political activists who have been repeatedly threatened and red-tagged, and be paid handsomely for it.”

Karapatan condemns arrest of trade union activist in Quezon City

Rights group Karapatan condemned the arrest of trade union activist Benjamin Cordero, the most recent in what they believed to be another round of attacks against trade union activists and workers’s rights defenders.

According to initial reports from Karapatan Metro Manila, Cordero was arrested at past 11:00pm on October 26, 2022 in his home in Quezon City. He was reportedly served with a warrant of arrest dated October 24 based on charges of frustrated homicide issued by Branch 77 of the San Mateo, Rizal Regional Trial Court. He is currently detained at Batasan Police Station 6, Quezon City. Recommended bail is at P72,000.

Rights group calls on UN expert to look into disinformation, red-tagging vs journos, activists

Rights group Karapatan denounced the most recent disinformation campaigns and wholesale red-tagging against journalists and human rights defenders in the Philippines, and said that such acts violate and impact on the exercise of press freedom and freedom of expression in the country.

“We call on the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression to look into this dangerous pattern of disinformation and red-tagging which affects the exercise of press freedom and freedom of expression, when she conducts her reported official visit in 2023. We likewise call on the companies of social media platforms such as Meta, Youtube, Tiktok, and Twitter to address the deluge of online disinformation and threats against the journalists and activists,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general.

On the appointment of ex-PNP chief as DOH undersecretary

The appointment of former chief of the Philippine National Police Camilo Cascolan as Department of Health (DoH) undersecretary is both a grave insult to the thousands of victims of extrajudicial killings in the Duterte administration’s sham drug war and a rip-off from the playbook of his father and Rodrigo Duterte, when they militarized civilian bureaucracy during their terms.

The country has too many civilian health experts and professionals, as well as career officials who can offer more substantive and qualified public service through the DoH, but the president chose to appoint a police general, one of the brains and implementers of the murderous Oplan Tokhang (Oplan Double Barrel) campaign, in the agency.

Rights group decries threats vs journos’, civilians’ right to privacy

Human rights alliance Karapatan decried the stepped up State encroachment on civilians’ right to privacy and against increasing threats, amid reports of so-called “visits” to homes or offices of journalists.

Over the weekend, a number of journalists were alarmed by unannounced visits to their homes by alleged Philippine National Police personnel, who were purportedly checking on whether they had been receiving threats.

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay slammed the unsolicited visits to journalists’ homes as a “blatant invasion of privacy” and “ill-disguised threat and harassment.” The visits, which were not coordinated with offices of concerned journalists, came just days after vlogger and hard-hitting government critic Percy Lapid was gunned down and broadcasters Ed Lingao and Lourd de Veyra received death threats online.

Protect lawyers and human rights defenders, stop red-tagging and threats against them

Karapatan today reiterated its support for the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), as the lawyers’ group filed a manifestation urging the Supreme Court to reconsider the Court of Appeals’ decision dismissing their petition for the writ of amparo and habeas data which was filed in 2019.

“While it is laudable that the Supreme Court issued a warning to a certain notorious red-tagger over her statements against Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar, we call on the Supreme Court to heed the call of NUPL for legal protection as their officers and members have faced dangers due to such nefarious practice and other human rights violations,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

On the statements of Justice Sec. Remulla on redtagging at the UN Human Rights Committee Review on the Philippines

We hope that the independent human rights experts of the UN Human Rights Committee will see through the warped logic of Justice Secretary Boying Remulla on his statements regarding redtagging.

Redtagging especially of State forces and their adjuncts has dire consequences on persons, families, organizations and communities - killings, arbitrary arrests and imprisonment, torture, enforced disappearances and more. Feigning ignorance on these consequences and packaging these threats as mere exercise of freedom of expression are clear signals of a policy of tolerance for human rights violations and impunity.  

Stop military operations in Himamaylan, Negros Occidental - Karapatan

Human rights alliance Karapatan condemned the reported humanitarian crisis and human rights violations in Himamaylan town, Negros Occidental as a result of continuing military operations since October 6, 2022.

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay cited reports from Karapatan-Negros on the indiscriminate bombings and strafing of the 94th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army in the areas bordering the villages of Carabalan and Mahalang with artillery and machine gun fire, shooting at rivers, sugarcane fields and forest trees after clashes with the New People’s Army on October 6 and 8.  

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