[Press Release] Report: Worsened human rights crisis in 2019; Duterte’s real legacy is full-scale assault on people’s rights -PhilRights

Photo from PhilRights FB page

PhilRights’ report The Killing State: 2019 Philippine Human Rights Situationer describes a worsening human rights situation creating a hostile environment for ordinary Filipinos.

QUEZON CITY – President Duterte’s real legacy is the full-scale assault on people’s basic rights and the dismantling of democratic guarantees of Filipinos, the Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights) asserted.

“If we talk of Duterte’s real legacy, his administration needs to look no further than the thousands of dead bodies found in city streets and the countryside,” said Prof. Nymia Pimentel-Simbulan, executive director of PhilRights.

PhilRights’ conclusion was based on its new report released today, which outlined how the human rights situation in the Philippines continued its descent to violence, fear, and impunity, festering into a full-blown human rights crisis.

Prof. Pimentel-Simbulan noted that Pres. Duterte’s core principle of governance is violence, which is manifested through the continuation of the so-called war on drugs, the escalation of attacks on human rights defenders, activists, and the media, and the disregard for social and economic justice.

“The president’s impulse for violence has had a profoundly negative impact on the rights and dignity of many Filipinos,” said Prof. Pimentel-Simbulan. She questioned the government’s continued anti-human rights agenda including the push to reimpose the death penalty, which is in direct violation of the Philippines’ obligations to international human rights law.

2019: A Human Rights Crisis

PhilRights’ report looked back at key events in 2019 that impacted the human rights situation in the country and found that the demonization of human rights, coupled with weaponization of laws and the constant incitement of violence by the president himself have created a hostile environment for ordinary Filipinos.

Of particular concern is the widespread violence perpetrated by the ongoing anti-drug campaign and the implementation of Memorandum No. 32 and Executive Order No. 70, among other issuances, which have resulted in escalating attacks against human rights defenders, activists, and the media.

The report also highlighted the administration’s failure to deliver on its promises of genuine improvement in the lives of Filipinos, especially on issues of food security, employment, and our farmers’ plight under the Rice Tariffication Law. “In 2019, it became even more clear that this administration is massively beholden to the interests of the powerful few, at the expense of the economic, social, and cultural rights of our citizens,” said Prof. Pimentel-Simbulan.

Fighting back

PhilRights views 2020 as an important year in the fight for human rights. The group noted the upcoming report of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in the Philippines in June and the anticipated decision of the International Criminal Court’s Office of the Prosecutor on whether to proceed with a full investigation into allegations of crimes against humanity against Pres. Duterte and other administration officials.

In the report, Prof. Pimentel-Simbulan emphasized the need for action: “We believe that our people, guided by the ideals of principles of human rights and democratic rule, can seize this country from the clutches of authoritarianism.”

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About PhilRights

PhilRights is a non-stock, non-profit organization duly registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Established in 1991 as the research and information center of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), PhilRights is also an associated NGO of the United Nations Department of Public Information (UN DPI) and carry a special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC).

PhilRights envisions a just, democratic, peaceful and prosperous Philippines founded on a culture of human rights and gender equity. Our work is focused on ushering in a society where each individual is able to fully realize their potential as a human person, participates effectively in the economic, political and cultural life, and shares equitably in the benefits of economic progress.

Our institutional programs are Human Rights research, education, and information. For more information, please visit http://www.philrights.org.

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