Tag Archives: Killings

[Press Release] Environmental Advocates’ Plea: Stop Activist Killings | EcoWaste Coalition

#HumanRights #Environment #Killings

Environmental Advocates’ Plea: Stop Activist Killings

Responding to the brutal killings of nine activists last March 7, environmental advocates pressed the government to ensure that the lives and liberties of those peacefully exercising their constitutionally-guaranteed rights are upheld and protected.

“As the fight for Mother Earth is a fight for her children too, the EcoWaste Coalition condemns the spate of politically-linked killings that have claimed the lives of activists working for and with the marginalized sectors,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition, including the nine activists who perished from the bloodbath last Sunday following joint police-military operations in CALABARZON.

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[Statement] on the recent wave of attacks against lawyers and activists | Centerlaw

#HumanRights #Killings

Centerlaw statement on the recent wave of attacks against lawyers and activists

Bloodshed continues at the hands of the police and military, with the latest crackdown on activist groups resulting in the deaths of nine individuals in the CALABARZON region. This comes immediately in the wake of a public kill order made by the Chief Executive, with a call for the police and military to ignore human rights. The assault on members of the legal profession is likewise unrelenting with the attack on Atty. Angelo Karlo Guillen, counsel for one of the petitions against the Anti-Terror Law.

CenterLaw once again condemns the culture of killing and violence that continues to thrive under the auspices of power. The series of violent attacks and arrests that took place within the span of a week is but a grim reminder of the larger pattern of impunity plaguing the country. They are repeated intrusions on fundamental liberties and civic spaces reserved for the healthy and constitutionally protected exercise of dissent. The unbridled use of violence in law enforcement operations is incompatible with the rule of law and has no place in Philippine legal order. What is more alarming is that procedural rules before the courts have been exploited to facilitate and lend legitimacy to the attacks.

CenterLaw calls on police officers and members of the armed forces to carry out their duties with full respect for legal processes and within the confines of the law. We repeat our demand for accountability for all past abuses and to put an end to the terror that has become so commonplace in our society. We also call on the Supreme Court to undertake its duty by promulgating rules aimed at safeguarding constitutional rights. Life and liberty are sacred. They must be protected at all times against any and all forms of threat and attack.

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[Statement] on the brazen attack on the life of the human rights lawyer, Atty. Angelo Karlo Guillen | CHR VI

#HumanRights #Killings

Statement on the brazen attack on the life of the human rights lawyer, Atty. Angelo Karlo Guillen | CHR VI

The Commission on Human Rights Region VI strongly condemns and denounces the brazen attempt on the life of Atty. Angelo Karlo Guillen by unknown assailants in the evening of March 3, 2021 along General Luna Street in Iloilo City.

The increasing number of violent attacks against lawyers deserves utmost attention and condemnation to the highest degree. Lawyers must never be subjected to attacks for merely performing their duties. Lawyers are essential for the attainment of justice and the rule of law. Regardless of who they represent, lawyers must be given enough freedom to freely exercise their profession without threats of attack and violence upon their person.

The Commission on Human Rights calls upon our Philippine National Police and other law enforcement officers to swiftly and effectively investigate this case and to bring the perpetrators to justice. We also urge the government to provide measures in order to safeguard the rights of the people against such attacks.

Atty. Jonnie L. Dabuco
CHR VI Director

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[Statement] Guevarra report to the UN deflects culpability, accountability from Duterte, shields him from justice | iDEFEND

#HumanRights #StopTheKillings

Guevarra report to the UN deflects culpability, accountability from Duterte, shields him from justice

File photo

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra reported to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Wednesday regarding his initial findings on the extrajudicial killing of drug suspects in the government’s war on drugs. Guevarra mainly highlighted police errors and operational breaches in anti-drug operations in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Pampanga and Cavite, including failure to follow protocol in processing crime scenes and lack of ballistic and paraffin examinations.

It audaciously glossed over the widescale failure to follow protocol and proper procedure by security forces and skipped mentioning the overall policy which directed these killings, then created the environment of impunity for the perpetration of these crimes, downgrading the systematic and brazen disregard for rule of law into individual lapses of judgement by a few bad elements in law enforcement.

Operation Double Barrel, launched by the national police at the prompting of President Duterte, obliterated the rule of law, targeted specific members of the Philippine population for extermination, and violated Constitutionally guaranteed human rights.

Guevarra’s report not only deflects accountability from the President but misrepresents summary executions in the Philippines as mere procedural failures, while maintaining the illusion that domestic mechanisms are intact. This despite the glaring lack of conviction and censure with the mounting death toll from the so-called war on drugs that has abated little in spite of the pandemic.

President Duterte repeatedly promised executive clemency to police should they be convicted of crimes in the conduct of the war on drugs; Duterte encouraged community residents to kill neighbors who use drugs; Duterte issued unverified narco-lists of alleged top drug lords, following which several named therein had been “neutralized” mostly by unknown gunmen.

In his 2020 State of the Nation address the president reiterated that the government will combat COVID19 “with the same fervor as our campaign against illegal drugs, criminality, insurgency…” indicating the continued overarching policy of heavy-handed, repressive measures against violators of local quarantines. According to Human Rights Watch killings went up 50 per cent during the lockdowns.

Now there are attempts to apply aforementioned Operation Double Barrel (Oplan Tokhang) against ‘left-leaning personalities and organizations’ in the northern provinces, sparking concerns of escalated EJKs and human rights violations if enforced. Despite Guevarra’s report of official failures and lapses in the Oplan’s operations, the policy is in full gear, and remains the central theme of Duterte’s governance.

These, along with the government’s non-transparency in its so-called inquiry, the exclusion of families of victims of extrajudicial killings, the Commission on Human Rights and civil society, and most of all the deafening silence in the halls of justice for the more than 30, 000 cases of summary killings, betray the hollow efforts of the Justice department to escape international accountability.

Immediately, in light of the DOJ report, nothing less than the total revocation of Oplan Double Barrel, the prosecution of the perpetrators of extrajudicial killings, providing justice to victims’ families, and the overhaul of the national drug policy towards a rights-based and humane approach can indicate steps in the right direction.

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[From the web] ‘Stop the killings!’- Labor NGO seeks justice for the murder of union leader Leonardo Escala -EILER

#HumanRights #Workers

‘Stop the killings!’- Labor NGO seeks justice for the murder of union leader Leonardo Escala

Screen Grabbed from Eiler.ph

The Ecumenical Institute of Labor Education and Research (EILER) condemns the brutal murder of Leonardo “Ka Esca” Escala, union president of the port operator International Container Terminal Services Incorporated (ICTSI) last February 7, in Tondo Manila.

Under Escala’s leadership, the union the Nagkakaisang Manggagawa sa Pantalan Incorporated (NMPI)-ICTSI under the National Federation of Labor Unions (NAFLU), fought for labor rights and humane working conditions.

Because of his convictions, he constantly received death threats.

Read complete article @eiler.ph

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[Statement] Justice for the Gregorios and all victims of violence -TFDP

Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) condemns the brazen acts of murder perpetrated by a man in uniform. It was swift and methodical. It was inhuman. It was a strong, hard kick on the face of human rights.

These twin murders shake the very core of our humanity. Our society has degenerated to the barbaric ways of killers. It was a strong display of how impunity reigns in the country.

We have repeatedly raised the alarm at the descent to brutality and violence goaded by the pronouncements of the president no less. It has resulted in thousands killed since 2016 without trial, due process, and conviction. There are malevolent beings who have taken it upon themselves to judge who lives or dies.

This is not an isolated case. Far from it. It stems from a culture of impunity that has been reinforced time and again by public pronouncements that any person in uniform shall be spared and protected. It has bred an attitude of lawlessness and an entitlement of being above the law.

We cannot accept puerile explanations of post-traumatic disorders or mental health issues as excuse for murder. If they were experiencing such, then these concerns should have been addressed, and they should have been given a break from the service a long time ago. Those entrusted with great responsibility must constantly be reminded that they serve and protect the people. They are servants of the people and not their tormentors and murderers.

Since the lockdown, the image of the men in uniform have suffered tremendously because of their successive acts of violence that have eroded public trust. Terror and violence have been used to quell dissent and freedom of expression. Extrajudicial killings have been employed in the war on drugs. Lately, they have also been used on human rights defenders.

This culture of violence and impunity must end. Statements that encourage and embolden men and women in uniform must stop. No one should be above the law. Nothing good will come out of bodies piling up. The right to life should be respected at all times.
We call on all people of goodwill to raise their voices against the hate and violence in our midst.

We call for justice for the Gregorios and all victims of violence. Hold to account Senior Master Sergeant Jonel Nuezca.

We implore the authorities to rein in the forces of violence and stem the spiral of death and destruction.

We commit ourselves to work for human rights, peace, justice, and the rule of law.

Justice for the Gregorios and all victims of human rights violations.
Break impunity.

All human rights for all.

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[Statement] Justice and accountability are non-negotiable

#HumanRights #Justice and #accountability are non-negotiable

We are extremely disappointed with Human Rights Council Resolution #45 as it is a collective failure and it falls short of our expectation of an international, independent investigation into the gross violations of human rights in the country.

The bloodbath continues even under the different modes of quarantine during the current Covid-19 pandemic. There is no let-up in the harassment, red-tagging, arrests and extrajudicial killings of human rights defenders and suspected drug dependents.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) correctly noted in its report to the United Nations Human Rights Council last year that the killings appear to be “systematic and widespread” with no accountability taking place.

Impunity reigns as perpetrators are able to commit extrajudicial killings even in the most severe of lockdowns from March to June of 2020.
The adverse international reactions to the violations happening in the Philippines have spurred the Philippine government to conduct a diplomatic and public relations campaign to thwart any initiative at an international independent investigation.

The Duterte administration feigns innocence with the extrajudicial killings after publicly encouraging and abetting its widespread commission for more than three years.

The Philippine government is remiss in its obligations to respect, protect and fulfil human rights. Its failure to protect its citizens from killers with more than 30,000 EJKs speaks eloquently of its non-commitment to human rights.

Sadly, accountability and justice have been reduced to technical cooperation and capacity building.

We take note of the continuing monitoring of government compliance to its human rights obligations. We will continue to engage with the UN mechanisms and other avenues to seek redress for the continuing bloodbath in the country.

Justice and accountability are non-negotiable.

Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) Franciscans International (FI), Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund (SCLF) Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)

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[Press Release] Philippine human rights groups disappointed at the UNHRC resolution on the Philippines -PAHRA, iDEFEND

#StopTheKillings [Press Release] Philippine #humanrights groups disappointed at the UNHRC resolution on the Philippines

Quezon City- Human Rights groups belonging to the In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) and the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) expressed disappointment at the resolution of the 45th session of the UN Human Rights Council on the Philippines. The resolution offered technical cooperation and capacity building to the Philippine government in response to the widespread killings and grave human rights violations, which comprise the findings of the report of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights last June.

“We have been communicating and advocating with the UN Human Rights Council since the start of the Duterte administration in 2016 and we have exposed a pattern of systematic killings under the war on drugs; said Ms. Rose Trajano, Secretary-General of PAHRA and convenor of iDEFEND, “our reports as well as those from other CSOs enabled the International Criminal Court to launch a preliminary inquiry into the cases of extrajudicial killings, yet the UNHRC has decided to follow a lesser path” Trajano added.

“The fact that killings increased during the period of quarantine including those of human rights defenders, prompted the European Parliament to pass a resolution threatening to review the trade privileges of the Philippines with the European Union. It is lamentable that precisely when the international community is responding to the report of the High Commissioner, the UNHRC has taken a step back”, said Ms. Judy Pasimio, iDEFEND Spokesperson.

The groups said that the government aggressively lobbied to weaken the international body’s response to the human rights crises, by emphasizing its struggle with the current pandemic and by effectively tagging human rights defenders as terrorists who have “weaponized human rights”.

In a live-streamed discussion, panelists said the Council’s resolution may be sending the wrong signal to the government.

“What’s dangerous is that the government was able to peddle its justification for this kind of outcome and is now emboldened because the international community seemed to accept the government’s message that domestic mechanisms are working,” said Joseph Purugganan, head of the Philippine office of the Focus on the Global South.

Philippine groups and their international counterparts have been campaigning for an independent international investigation into the human rights crisis in the country. The discussion’s panelists said that the only way technical cooperation can gain any credibility among the people is if the killings and violence are stopped immediately.

In a statement delivered at the 45th UNHRC session, international NGOs concluded that “This is a collective failure by the States at this Council. We are shocked by the lack of support for a more robust response.” They added that “The Council must be ready to live up to its responsibility to ensure an independent investigation if the killings and the crackdown on civil society do not immediately end.”

iDEFEND and PAHRA vowed to continue to fight for human rights and engage domestic and international human rights mechanisms until justice is realized for all victims of human rights violations.

On Thursday, October 8, 2020, at 4:00 in the afternoon, iDEFEND and PAHRA will have a live-streamed discussion on the implications of the resolution, the processes involved in the technical cooperation, and the role of the UN resident coordinator in the Philippines. Invited speakers are from the Commission on Human Rights, the UN Resident Coordinator to the Philippines, EJK victims’ families, and CSOs. Invitations to the media will follow.

Contact: Neca Reyes 09237280690

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[From the web] UN resolution a missed chance for justice but scrutiny continues -AIph

#HumanRights #StopTheKillings [From the web] UN resolution a missed chance for justice but scrutiny continues

The resolution on the Philippines adopted by the UN Human Rights Council today is a missed opportunity to seek justice for thousands of unlawful killings, said Amnesty International.

Rather than launching the much-needed comprehensive investigation into the human rights situation in the Philippines, the UN resolution – led jointly by Iceland and the Philippines – requests the UN Human Rights Office to support the Philippines through ‘technical assistance’. This assistance will be focused on areas including accountability; data gathering of violations by the police; civic space; counter-terrorism legislation, and a rights-based approach to drug control.

“The human rights situation in the Philippines warrants more than just ‘technical assistance’ from the UN. A full international investigation to effectively address the pervasive impunity in the country is urgently needed,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Philippines Researcher at Amnesty International.

The resolution falls far short of repeated calls by civil society and UN experts for an independent, international investigation into the serious ongoing human rights violations in the country, including the thousands of extrajudicial executions perpetrated by police and vigilantes linked to them in the context of the so-called “war on drugs”.

“The Human Rights Council failed to advance justice for bereaved families across the Philippines who had placed their hopes in the international community,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard.

“This weak resolution also lets down the brave human rights defenders, journalists and others who have engaged with the UN in good faith and pursue their work at huge personal risk.”

Amnesty International has seen a continued deterioration of the human rights situation in the Philippines over the last few months. Major warning signs include ongoing incitement to kill by President Duterte, the promotion to national police chief of Lt Gen Camilo Cascolan, an alleged architect of the deadly anti-drug campaign, and the adoption of a dangerous anti-terror law. In June 2020, well-known journalist Maria Ressa was convicted for ‘cyber libel’, and a month after, major media network ABS-CBN was shut down. There is also a new spike in police killings, and there have been brutal murders of human rights and political activists and of a journalist in recent months.

This critical state of affairs was detailed by Amnesty International in a briefing published last week, “My Job is to Kill”, named after a speech by President Duterte in March 2020.

“The states that negotiated with the Philippines to agree to this resolution have a responsibility to launch a full international investigation if there is no radical improvement in the human rights situation in the country. These states face a credibility test: how will they respond if the bloody wave of killings continue, and the brutal crackdown on civil society and the media rages on?”

Despite its major shortcomings, the resolution includes measures that task the UN Human Rights Office to continue to provide updates to the Council over the next two years.

“The decision to keep the Philippines on the Council’s agenda sends a clear message to the Duterte administration that the international community is still watching,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard.

“The months to come must see an immediate end to the wave of drug-related killings, the cessation of violent attacks against critics of the government, as well as a halt to the crackdown on press freedom in the Philippines.

“While the government’s tactics to delay an international investigation may have worked this time, the moment will come when justice will be done.”

Read full article @www.amnesty.org

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[Statement] National and International NGOs urge Human Rights Council to respond credibly to damning OHCHR report on the Philippines

ORAL STATEMENT

HRC45 – Item 4: General Debate

25 September 2020

NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL NGOS URGE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL TO RESPOND CREDIBLY TO DAMNING OHCHR REPORT ON THE PHILIPPINES

UN Human Rights Council

Forty-fifth session

14 September – 7 October 2020

 

Madam President,

 

I speak on behalf of 35 organisations, deeply concerned by the situation in the Philippines. We urge this Council to respond credibly to the grave findings and recommendations of the recent OHCHR report.

Developments since that report indicate further deterioration, with ongoing incitement to kill by the President, the promotion of an architect of the anti-drug strategy to police chief, the passing of an overbroad anti-terror law ripe for abuse, the conviction of journalist Maria Ressa and shutdown of media network ABS-CBN, the murder of activists and a journalist and a new spike in police killings.

In terms of cooperation, the Philippines refused access to OHCHR in the preparation of the report and continues to bar entry to Special Procedures. The Secretary-General and High Commissioner have raised significant concerns over reprisals. The Government does not acknowledge widespread and systematic killings as a problem, in fact it encourages them and rejects the OHCHR’s findings. Serious violations continue.

The Government’s announced Inter-Agency Panel lacks any transparency and directly involves branches of Government implicated in these abuses. As such, it clearly cannot satisfy international standards of independence,[1]nor can it be seen as credible or safe for victims to engage with.

Madam President,

Our organisations have urged and continue to urge this Council to launch an independent international investigation.

The High Commissioner has clearly asked the Council to renew her mandate to monitor and report on the wider situation, as well as to provide technical cooperation to “implement the report’s recommendations,” and “continue to pursue accountability”. We urge this Council – at absolute minimum – to ensure continued monitoring and reporting on all aspects of the situation as clearly recommended by the High Commissioner. Anything less would not only be an insult to victims and their families, but send a green light to perpetrators that they can continue with impunity, with disastrous consequences on the ground.

Thank you.

 

Co-signatories:

– Action Network Human Rights Philippines (AMP)

– Amnesty International

– Article 19

– Child Alert Mindanao

– Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center (CLRDC)

– CIVICUS Alliance

– Coalition Against Summary Executions

– Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND)

– Franciscans International

– Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception

– Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG)

– Freedom House

– Harm Reduction International

– Human Rights Watch

– In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND)

– International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP)

– International Commission of Jurists

– International Drug Policy Consortium

– International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

– International Service for Human Rights

– Karapatan Alliance Philippines

– Medical Action Group

– National Union of Journalists of the Philippines

– Network Against Killings in the Philippines (NakPhil)

– Partnership Mission for People’s Initiatives (PMPI)

– Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)

– Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI)

– Philippine Human Rights Information Center

– Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns

– Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund (SCLF)

– Tambayan

– The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

– Task Force Detainees of the Philippines

– World Council of Churches

– World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

[1] See for instance the UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions, adopted by the Economic and Social Council in its resolution 1989/65 of 24 May 1989; and Human Rights Committee, General Comment no. 36 on the right to life (article 6).

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[Press Release] UN must intensify pressure to end killings as impunity reigns -AI

UN must intensify pressure to end killings as impunity reigns
25 September 2020

The administration of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte continues to incite a wave of extrajudicial executions and fuel a climate of near-absolute impunity for perpetrators, Amnesty International said today in a new briefing on the country’s dramatically deteriorating human rights situation.

The briefing, “My Job is to Kill”: Ongoing human rights violations and impunity in the Philippines, is being published as the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) considers its response to a recent UN report on the country’s human rights crisis.

The briefing takes its name from a March 2020 speech by President Duterte in which he told local officials: “It is my job to scare people, to intimidate people, and to kill people.”

Amnesty International, together with a coalition of other human rights organizations, is urging the HRC to establish an independent body to conduct an in-depth investigation into human rights violations and abuses committed in the Philippines since 2016.

“Four years into his presidency, Rodrigo Duterte has turned the Philippines into a bloodbath where police and unidentified vigilantes are free to kill as they please,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Philippines Researcher at Amnesty International.

“This is not an accidental by-product of his administration, but its central feature. Police and other unidentified gunmen know they can kill without consequence. They are taking literally the President’s regular incitement to kill, and his promises to protect those who do so – and so should member states at the Human Rights Council.”

“A panel announced by the government is not credible and cannot deliver justice. The Human Rights Council must not back down now. It must act to prevent further deaths and send a clear message to the perpetrators, and to the government itself: the world is watching and we will not let impunity prevail.”

Amnesty International’s new briefing describes how alleged drug offenders and others suspected of committing crimes continue to be killed with impunity, amid years of incitement to violence by President Duterte and others in his administration. Moreover, often-deadly attacks against activists and human rights defenders accused of links to the communist movement have surged and grown more brazen. Meanwhile, attacks on the media are at their worst levels in decades.

The pattern of extrajudicial executions remains

New cases of drug-related extrajudicial executions examined by Amnesty International remain consistent with patterns that the organization has documented over the four-year course of the so-called “war on drugs”.

The majority of victims continue to be from poor and marginalized communities; the killings are covered up by falsified reports; and bereaved families consistently express helplessness at the overwhelming obstacles in pursuing justice.

In one case examined in the briefing, several witnesses to the killing of Kim Lester Ramos in October 2019 told Amnesty International of a sequence of events that differed significantly from the account and photographs provided in the police report.

According to a survivor, who said he was the initial target and was also shot, Kim Lester Ramos was gunned down at point-blank range while seeking help for his injured friend. Testimony from eyewitnesses said that Ramos was unarmed, that a gun was later placed in his hand, and that the position of his body was changed – all to justify a policeman’s motive of self-defense.

The Ramos family is one of the few that has been supported in their pursuit of justice by local authorities, including from their mayor. In December 2019 the Ramos family filed a murder complaint against the police officer involved. However, at the time of publication, Amnesty International is aware of no further progress on the case.

Killings and incitement amid the pandemic

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, killings are once again rising as the President continues to incite violence against people suspected of having committed a crime, including those accused of using or selling drugs. Moreover, promises by President Duterte to protect those who kill and commit other human rights violations have persisted. This incitement has grown stronger in recent months, despite increased international scrutiny by the UN.

Analysis of government data by Human Rights Watch has revealed that killings in police anti-drug operations were up by 50 percent during the pandemic. Based on this data, the police killed 155 people from April to July 2020, compared to 103 people from December 2019 to March 2020.

In August 2020, the President used a speech to instruct the Bureau of Customs to “kill drug smugglers” and said that he would protect its agents from jail, while claiming he had approved the agency’s request to purchase firearms. He also taunted human rights organizations: “These human rights people are so timid. What do you do? Just count the dead? Sons of b*tches, you should change jobs, not in human rights. Work at morgues if that’s all that you do.”

A photojournalist documenting killings in Metro Manila recently told Amnesty International that a reshuffling of police commanders had recently led to a “spike in cases” of killings in the city since the appointment of new police chief at the start of September 2020.

Apart from killings by police, executions by motorcycle-riding assailants have continued in recent months. A Quezon City priest, Father Robert Reyes, says that over two weeks in July, he presided over three funeral masses in one community alone for victims of unlawful killings by unidentified gunmen. Such killings by unidentified vigilantes have been repeatedly linked back to the police.

The deeply flawed approach to the “war on drugs” continues to obstruct efforts to ensure people are protected from problems associated with drugs. Amnesty International continues to call on authorities to shift away from punitive approaches based on criminalization and refocus its attention on health and other social services. Drug policies must be centred upon an expansion of health and other social services to address drug-related problems, including prevention, information, harm reduction, voluntary treatment and rehabilitation services on a non-discriminatory basis, including in prisons and other situations where people are deprived of their liberty.

Surge in attacks and killings linked to “red-tagging”

Amnesty International has also documented how President Duterte’s declaration of “all-out war” against “communist rebels,” following the breakdown of peace talks in 2018 has resulted in a raft of arbitrary arrests and detention of people deemed critical of the government, as well as the killing of activists and human rights defenders.

“For years, the authorities have used ‘red-tagging’ to brand and discredit anyone whose human rights campaigning or community work they disapprove of,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard. “Today, red-tagging has become a very real death threat.”

In one recent egregious example, on 17 August 2020, Negros-based activist and human rights defender Zara Alvarez, whom Amnesty International interviewed in December 2019, was shot dead by an unknown assailant in Bacolod City. Alvarez had received death threats before her murder. A week earlier, on 10 August 2020, activist and peace advocate Randall Echanis was killed, along with a neighbor, at his home in Quezon City. An autopsy report determined that he sustained multiple stab wounds.

Both Alvarez and Echanis had previously been “red-tagged” and placed on an arbitrary list of “terrorists” drawn up by the Department of Justice and submitted to a Philippine court. Although their names were eventually removed, the list originally included many prominent activists and human rights defenders, including then UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz.

As with relatives of victims of drug-related killings, families, and friends of that slain expressed anger and feelings of powerlessness when it came to getting justice. Human rights groups fear that a new and overbroad anti-terror law will only increase the risks faced by activists and human rights defenders.

The UN Human Rights Office documented at least 248 human rights defenders, legal professionals, journalists, and trade unionists killed in relation to their work between 2015 and 2019 in the Philippines.

A Negros official told Amnesty International that while impunity was nothing new, the situation on the island was “the worst ever”, adding: “Red-tagging is the preliminary step to killing.”

Attacks against journalists

Alongside the widely publicized harassment faced by journalist Maria Ressa and her Rappler newsroom and efforts by the administration to force broadcaster ABS-CBN off the air, Amnesty International’s briefing describes the broader culture of fear and violence faced by journalists across the country.

Nonoy Espina, the national chairperson of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, told Amnesty International that not since “the Marcos dictatorship have the media and freedom of the press and expression been attacked” as they are currently.

These attacks have also been deadly. On the evening of 5 May 2020, radio broadcaster Cornelio “Rex Cornelio” Pepino was murdered in Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental province, becoming the 16th journalist to be killed during the Duterte administration.

According to media reports, Pepino was riding home from work on a motorcycle with his wife when two unidentified men also on a motorcycle shot him several times and killed him. The radio station Pepino worked for described him as a “hard-hitting” radio commentator who discussed his positions against illegal mining, graft, corruption, and poor governance in his daily program.

The Duterte administration cannot investigate itself

Amnesty International’s briefing describes how the culture of impunity has persisted in the Philippines despite international pressure from civil society and human rights organizations over the past four years, culminating in last year’s HRC resolution 41/2 which mandated a report on the human rights situation in the Philippines by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). This report was published in June 2020.

Amnesty International’s findings support the conclusions of the report, which states that the climate of impunity continues and is encouraged by the incitement to violence from “the highest levels of government”.

In an apparent effort to pre-empt calls for an independent investigative mechanism at the HRC, the Philippine Justice Secretary used an HRC meeting in July 2020 to announce the creation of a government inter-agency panel to review more than 5,600 cases of killings during police-led operations.

Since this announcement, the government has shared no new details about this panel.

“All we know of this panel is it will include the very same agencies responsible for the killings, the attacks, and the harassment which they are supposed to investigate. This is a clear example of being both judge and party, and shows its complete lack of independence,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard.

“The timing and circumstances of this panel’s announcement, together with the lack of specifics provided to the public, is clearly designed to shield the government from scrutiny. States at the Human Rights Council must not be fooled into taking this initiative seriously.

“It’s obvious the Duterte administration has no intention of delivering justice to thousands of bereaved families, all while the President repeatedly incites violence and promises to protect perpetrators.

“It now falls to the Human Rights Council to mandate a strong, independent investigative body – all while honouring the High Commissioner’s repeated calls to continue monitoring the Philippines’ human rights crisis.”

UN must intensify pressure to end killings as impunity reigns

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[Appeal] Statement of Appeal to Conduct Investigation on the recent massacre in Kabacan, North Cotabato the twin blast bombing in the town of Jolo, Sulu and also the spate killings in the IP communities -ALTAHR

Photo by ALTAHR

Statement of Appeal to Conduct Investigation on the recent massacre in Kabacan, North Cotabato the twin blast bombing in the town of Jolo, Sulu and also the spate killings in the IP communities.

STOP THE KILLINGS!
DEFEND HUMAN LIVES!
DEFEND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS!
DEFEND HUMAN RIGHTS!

The Alliance of Tri-people for the Advancement of Human Rights is alarmed in the brutal massacre of the 9 innocent Bangsamoro people using the high powered long guns midday in the provincial road of Kabacan, North Cotabato among the victims are Kors Salilangan, Sandigan Zailon, Binladin Dimanalao, Musaid Jaiden, Romeo Balatamay, Katindig Kagayawon, Fahad Mandigan, Budsal Lipusan and Tong Guiaman all are Muslims. The kind of violent attack, again remind to all the Bangsamoro people during the dark period of Marcos era, which is many massacres and besieged of defenseless occurred in Bangsamoro homeland. According to the police report later disclosed that there was no firefight as the victim were allegedly gunned down along the road outside the campus of University of Southern Mindanao.

Over the past day twin blast including a suicide bombing killed almost 15 people and wounded 75 others mostly civilians, based on the PNP report the first blast was happened around noon on Monday August 24, 2020, when a homemade bomb in a motorcycle was triggered close to the two parked army trucks killings soldiers and civilians.

In conjunction with the bombing attack in the town of Jolo a lady leader of an Indigenous Peoples (IP) community in Magpet, North Cotabato was attacked by almost four men while heading for her farm with her daughter, when shot from behind by one of the suspect. As she fell another suspects finish her using a machete. The victim is Merlinda Ansabu Celis known as advocate of IP rights.

The tri-people of Mindanao the Bangsamoro, Migrants, and IP’s deserve better than to live in fear of the rampant violence and brutality just outside their homes.

We urge Bangsamoro Government to conduct independent investigation and the National Government to properly investigate and take active measures towards putting a stop to these rampant killings and finding the perpetrators, innocent lives do not deserved to be killed brutally . As a human Rights Organization that promotes human rights. The constitution guarantee our rights as it stated on the Article III bill of Rights section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws. The Alliance of the Tri-people for the Advancement of human Rights (ALTAHR) strongly condemns the tragic incidents of the Kabacan Massacre, Jolo Bombing and the killings of lady IP leader throughout Mindanao.

Our prayers and sympathy are with the families of the victims.

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[Statement] Her voice carries on. On the murder of Zara Alvarez

Photo by philippinenbüro e.V. im Asienhaus

Her voice carries on. On the murder of Zara Alvarez

Philippine human rights activist Zara Alvarez is dead – murdered on August 17, 2020 in Bacolod City (Philippines). Organizations from Europe condemn the act and give their voice to her cause.

We are sad, stunned and above all angry. On the evening of August 17, the human rights defender Zara Alvarez (39 years old) was shot dead in Bacolod City, only a few hours after Randall Echanis’ funeral, a land rights and peace activist, who was tortured and murdered on August 10.

We, the signatories of this press release, stand united in solidarity with Philippine civil society, and demand justice and an end to the repression of voices critical of the government in the Philippines.

Since her youth, Zara Alvarez actively campaigned for a fair society and fought for the protection of human rights in Negros. Most recently she worked for the health organization NIHP-CD (Negros Integrated Health Program for Community Development). The issues she advocated and the criticism she voiced triggered a series of intimidation attempts. She received death threats, was imprisoned between 2012 and 2014 on a trumped-up charge, and, upon her release, was denounced as a terrorist by the government. For her protection, Zara Alvarez was closely monitored by international teams of human rights observers on the ground since 2014, including trial monitoring. But on August 17, she was gunned down while walking to her boarding house. According to the latest findings, the hooded murderer shot her in an ambush and fled on a motorcycle driven by an accomplice.

The perpetrator may be unknown, but the recurring threats against activists by President Rodrigo Duterte and laws such as the Anti-Terror Law point to an increasingly authoritarian and repressive climate in the Philippines. For years, we have been pointing out that the Philippine Government, under the guise of counterterrorism, is brutally cracking down on human rights defenders and other civil society players. Thereby, the Government seeks to hamper and delegitimize the commitment of the civil society to human rights, a clean environment, a just distribution of land and the rights of Indigenous People. The work of human rights activists, journalists, environmentalists, lawyers, etc. is complicated by public insults and vilification, red-tagging, fabricated charges, politically motivated legal proceedings, and outright physical harassment. Zara Alvarez is one of the latest victims.

Zara Alvarezis not the only victim of this climate of violence. As we mourn Zara Alvarez, we also mourn Randall Echanis, Ben Ramos, Jory Porquia, Bernardino Patigas, and all those murdered for their struggle for a more just society.

In order to remember them, we want to show our solidarity with Philippine civil society and honor Zara´s advocacies and the values she stood for.

We demand justice for Zara Alvarez! Justice for all politically persecuted and victims of the Duterte regime! #StopTheKillings! #JusticeForZaraAlvarez

Signatory Organizations:

Aktionsbündnis Menschenrechte – Philippinen
Amnesty International (Germany)
Amt für Mission, Ökumene und Weltverantwortung der Ev. Kirche von Westfalen
Arbeitskreis der Ökumenischen Philippinenkonferenz
Philippine Women’s Forum e.V./Babaylan Germany
barkadas e.V.
Brot für die Welt
UK Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines (CHRP)
Carpus e.V.
Deutsch Philippinische Freunde e.V.
Dreikönigsaktion, Hilfswerk der Katholischen Jungschar
International Coalition for Papua (ICP)
International Peace Observers Network (IPON)
Kirchenkreis Koblenz der Evangelischen Kirche im Rheinland
Korea-Verband e.V.
Misereor
Missio München
philippinenbüro e.V.
Philnetz e.V.
PowerShift e.V.
Sri Lanka Advocacy
Stiftung Asienhaus
United Evangelical Mission (UEM/VEM)
Westpapua-Netzwerk (WPN)

Private Persons:

Michelle Anders
Bishop Antonio Ablon (IFI)
Philipp Bück
Prof. Christoph Antweiler (Universität Bonn)
Dr. Rosa Cordillera Castillo (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin)
Pfarrerin Joy dela Cruz (Ev. Kirche von Westfalen)
Dr. Bernhard Hoeper (Bonn)
Pfarrer Dr. Christian Hohmann (Ev. Kirche von Westfalen)
Risa Jopson
Ren Mangaban
Stella Matutina
Dr. Oliver Pye (Universität Bonn)
Michael Reckordt
Hadje C. Sadje (Foundation Academy of Amsterdam)
Jasmine Grace Wenzel
Dr. Rainer Werning (Publizist, Köln)
Fr. June Mark Yañez (IFI)

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[From the web] The Government of the Philippines must end the killings of human rights activists and defenders -Forum-Asia

The Government of the Philippines must end the killings of human rights activists and defenders

The Philippine government should immediately end the killings of activists and human rights defenders and ensure credible, transparent investigations and accountability for the lives which have been lost, the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) said in a statement today.

Human rights activist Zara Alvarez was gunned down on the evening of 17 August in Bacolod City while on her way home.[1] Alvarez worked as the research and advocacy officer of the Negros Island Health Integrated Program, and was the former Campaign and Education Director of the Negros chapter of human rights network Karapatan. She is the 13th Karapatan member to have been killed under the current administration.

‘The endless killings of activists in the Philippines have become systematic in Duterte’s regime, and demonstrate the continuing impunity in the country. The government should end these killings immediately and take genuine steps towards ensuring justice for victims and their family members,’ said Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu, Executive Director at FORUM-ASIA.

A week prior, on 10 August, peace consultant and labour activist, Randy Echanis was stabbed and killed in his home in Quezon City.[2] Echanis was also the chair of Anakpawis, a party-list advocating for the rights of workers.

Alvarez and Echanis were both included in the Philippine Department of Justice’s (DOJ) list of individuals in its petition for terrorist proscription in 2018.[3] The list included human rights defenders and activists, and a UN Special Rapporteur. While the DOJ eventually revised this list and removed their names, Alvarez, Echanis, and other human rights activists were still targets of unknown perpetrators.

Pls click the link to read more:

The Government of the Philippines must end the killings of human rights activists and defenders

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[Off-the-shelf] Philippines: New report reveals deliberate killings of children during “war on drugs”- by OMCT and CLRDC, Philippines

Philippines: New report reveals deliberate killings of children during “war on drugs”

Geneva (OMCT) – A new report, published today, documents 122 killings of children, from 1 to 17 years old, throughout the Philippines, between July 2016 and December 2019. The report, titled “How could they do this to my child?”, jointly published by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center (CLRDC, Philippines), shows that the majority of the killings were carried out by police forces or affiliates.

The report is based on information directly collected from the locations where the children were killed, including interviews with local authorities, families and witnesses, and the examination of official documents related to each case. It identifies clear patterns for the killings, including the direct targeting of victims; killings of children as proxies when the real targets could not be found; as a result of mistaken identities; and as so-called “collateral damage”. The report details six cases, with the youngest victim a 20-month old girl.

In one particularly horrific case, a 7-year old boy was killed in cold blood because he had witnessed the murder of an adult by a member of the local authorities. The killings continue, with at least seven children killed from January to March 2020.

“These revelations must be a wake-up call for the international community, who has been largely absent as the Philippine government has kept trampling human rights”, said Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary-General. “Over the past four years, we have hardly seen any meaningful reaction to the wanton killing of thousands of people under the pretext of the “war on drugs”, the targeting of the poorest and most marginalized citizens of the Philippines, and the persecution of human rights defenders, many of whom are in prison for their legitimate work. It is the total lack of accountability that feeds the cycle of violence, including the war on children we are witnessing.”

It is estimated that the total number of extrajudicial killings in the framework of the Philippine government’s anti-drug campaign may run as high as 27,000. Only in one case did the policemen involved get convicted.

This impunity, and the fact that most victims are poor and vulnerable, further increase a climate of terror created by the “war on drugs”. Practically all the families and witnesses interviewed for this report have asked to remain anonymous. Many of them did not file a case for the murder of their child, fearing retaliation. With parents often too afraid to testify, even anonymously, it is likely that the actual numbers of children killed are higher than the 122 documented in the report.

As the United Nations Human Rights Council is about to examine the record of the Philippines, the report sets out detailed recommendations, including for the creation of an independent commission of inquiry into human rights violations in the Philippines, with a special focus on children.

Full access to the report.

The World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) is the main global coalition of NGOs fighting torture and ill-treatment, with 200 members in more than 90 countries. Its international secretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center (CLRDC) is the leading child rights organisation in the Philippines.

Media Contact: Iolanda Jaquemet, ij@omct.org, mobile +41 79 539 41 06

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[In the news] QC cop who killed ex-soldier ‘followed instruction’ — PNP chief -PhilStar.com

QC cop who killed ex-soldier ‘followed instruction’ — PNP chief

The chief of the national police defended Thursday the actions of a Quezon City cop involved in the killing of a former soldier on Tuesday afternoon, saying he was simply complying with instructions.

Despite the Quezon City Police Department (QCPD) saying that the officer in question was facing criminal and administrative charges, PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa insisted that the cop was under threat by the suspect, 34-year-old army veteran Winston Ragos, and was prompted to shoot him twice.

Read more @www.philstar.com

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[Action Alert] (Philippines) Mentally-challenged man killed by members of the Philippine National Police during the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Quezon City -TFDP

Action Alert
(Philippines) Mentally-challenged man killed by members of the Philippine National Police during the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Quezon City

April 22, 2020

Dear Friends,

The Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) is forwarding to you an appeal for further investigation regarding the killing of a mentally-challenged man by members of the Philippine National Police during their enforcement of the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Quezon City.

——————————————————————————-

ACCOUNT OF THE INCIDENT:

Winston Ragos, a 34-year old retired member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) who was mentally-challenged was shot dead by a member of the Philippine National Police (PNP) at around 2:30 PM on April 21, 2020, along Maligaya Drive corner Sampaguita St., Barangay Pasong Putik, Quezon City.

According to the police spot report on the incident, PMSg Daniel Florendo requested police back up to apprehend Ragos, who was alleged by the police to be carrying a handgun in his sling bag.

Florendo, along with four police trainees, namely Dajeles Gaciles, Arnel B. Fontillas, Jr., Joy P. Flaviano, and Dante G. Fronda were said to be initially manning the Quarantine Control Point in Maligaya Drive in front of the 7/11 convenience store when Ragos allegedly asked Fontillas and Flaviano, “Ang sama mo makatingin, ano ba ang problema mo?” (“Why are you looking at me like that, what’s your problem?”)
Based on a video of the incident that appeared online, people in the area tried to tell the police that Ragos was not well. He was allegedly mentally-challenged because of his duty in the AFP. They said that Ragos was “war shocked” from his assignment in the AFP. However, based on the video, the police did not heed the people who were trying to protect Ragos.

Based on another video, Ragos was seen with his back to the police with both his hands held up, when members of the police asked him to drop to his knees. However, according to another post by a certain Fae Macahilig, allegedly a niece of Ragos, Ragos tried to show the police that he did not have a gun in his sling bag. Ragos’ gesture, based on the police spot report, was interpreted by the police as “attempt to pull out his firearm inside his sling bag”. Hence, Florendo shot Ragos twice that resulted in his death.

The police claimed in their report that a .36 Smith and Wesson revolver without a serial number and loaded with four ammunition/cartridges were found in the victim’s possession. However, Macahilig claimed in her post that Ragos did not have a gun.

In the same post, Macahilig claimed that during the incident, people were being prevented to take videos of what was happening; those who were able to take videos were allegedly also harassed into deleting the shots or footage.

Macahilig also lamented the absence of the members of the barangay who could have convinced the police that Ragos was mentally ill. This could have deescalated the situation since the police did not listen to the residents.

Article 4 Section 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that “in time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation and the existence of which is officially proclaimed, the State Parties to the present Covenant may take measures derogating from their obligations under the present Covenant to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation, provided that supposed measures are not inconsistent with their other obligations under international law and do not involve discrimination solely on the ground of race, colour, sex, language, religion or social origin.”

However, Article 4 section 2 also mentioned that there should be no derogation from Article 6. Article 6 states that “every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.”

In the 1987 Philippine Constitution, the right to life is protected in Article 3, Section 1, “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.”

As of this writing, homicide charge has been filed against the police officer who shot Ragos. The Philippine Army has also asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the case.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write a letter to the following authorities, for a swift and impartial investigation on the killing of Mr. Winston Ragos and also to urge the PNP to apply maximum tolerance against alleged violators of the Enhanced Community Quarantine and to observe the PNP Manual in the application of necessary and reasonable force.

A. Ensure that all who participated and were responsible for the killing of Winston Ragos be investigated and if need be, brought to justice.
B. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the 1987 Philippine Constitution, international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by the Philippines, especially in the enforcement of the Enhanced Community Quarantine during the COVID 19 Pandemic.

Please send your letters:

1. His Excellency Rodrigo Roa Duterte
President, Republic of the Philippines
New Executive Building, Malacanang Palace Compound
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel, Manila
1005 Philippines
Tel: +632 87368645; +632 87368603; +632-87368606; +632-87368629; +632-87368621
Telefax: +632 87368621
E-mail: pcc@malacanang.gov.ph

2. Hon. Menardo Guevarra
Secretary, Department of Justice (DOJ)
Padre Faura Street, Ermita, Manila
1000 Philippines
Tel: +632 85218348
Telefax: +632 85262618
Trunkline: +632 85238481 loc 217
Email: osecmig@gmail.com, communications@doj.gov.ph

3. Hon. Eduardo Aňo
Secretary, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)
DILG-NAPOLCOM Center
EDSA corner Quezon Avenue, Quezon City
Tel: +632 89250330; +632 89250331
Fax: +632 89250332
Trunkline: +632 88763454 loc 1001
Email: emano@dilg.gov.ph

4. Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
Philippines
Tel: +632 89285655; +632 89266188
Telefax: +632 89290102
Email: chairgascon.chr@gmail.com

5. PNP Chief Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa
Philippine National Police
PNP National Headquarters
Camp General Crame, EDSA
Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines 1100
Tel: +632 87230401; +632 87220650 local 3453/3473

6. Mayor Josefina Belmonte
Office of the Mayor
11th Floor, Quezon City Hall, High Rise Building, Quezon City
https://web.facebook.com/MayorJoyBelmonte

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[From the web] Rest easy, soldier: Netizens cry #JusticeForWinstonRagos -RAPPLER.com

Rest easy, soldier: Netizens cry #JusticeForWinstonRagos

Filipinos online demanded justice for Winston Ragos, the soldier who was killed by a cop in Quezon City over quarantine rules on Tuesday, April 21.

On Thursday, April 23, Ragos’ mother Merlyn said his son, a Marawi siege veteran who was not mentally stable, would not have been killed if the police only managed the incident better – a sentiment shared by many others.

Ragos was formerly enlisted with the Army until January 2017, and had suffered schizophrenia and trauma from “war shock.”

Earlier this month, President Duterte ordered cops to “shoot dead” unruly violators of the enhanced community quarantine, which some netizens linked to the unfortunate killing of Ragos.

Many netizens also chided those who blamed the soldier’s family for not keeping him in the house and those who believed that the killing was justified since Ragos violated quarantine rules.

Read full story @www.rappler.com

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[Statement] Call to Defend & Protect Civic Space, Empower the Marginalized -CPDG

Quezon City, Philippines — Amid the Duterte administration’s increasingly hostile militarist lockdown, the Council for People’s Development and Governance (CPDG) calls on Philippine civil society to defend and protect civic spaces and empower the marginalized (http://chng.it/HZt2Gjb92q).

CPDG strongly protests Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s dangerous and irresponsible order to kill citizens that security forces deem as defying the military lockdown. In a nationally broadcast announcement on April 1, 2020, he said: “Shoot them dead”. The president’s duty is to uphold the rights and welfare of Filipinos. The State and its officials, including security forces, are duty bearers that are accountable to the people.

The president is wrong to treat people asserting their right to emergency relief and to express their views on the government’s response as enemies. The real enemy today is the spread of the COVID-19 and the social and economic crisis this is spawning.

The president is also very wrong to single out activist groups in civil society and shut out their participation in governance. For decades now, activist people’s organizations and NGOs have been among the most determined civil society organizations (CSOs) asserting the right to development. Red-tagging has no place in a democracy, and only becomes more condemnable when done in the middle of the worst public health crisis in the nation’s history.

This is a time of serious crisis. Filipinos are suffering greatly with very uncertain and even dire prospects in the new normal that the pandemic has wrought. The public health system needs to be strengthened further and immediately. The poorest and most vulnerable also need to be immediately given emergency relief including food, hygiene supplies and income support.

The last thing the country needs is for the government itself to threaten and harass civil society groups which are among those on the frontlines of trying to alleviate the widespread suffering that the virus and military lockdown are causing.@

Established in 2008, the Coordinating Council for People’s Development and Governance (CPDG) is a broad network of civil society organizations (CSOs)
and people’s organizations (PO) engaged in development work.

CPDG Statement
06 April 2020
Council for People’s Development and Governance
#114 IBON Center, Timog Ave, QC
8-9Call 27-6986

https://www.facebook.com/notes/council-for-peoples-development-and-governance/call-to-defend-protect-civic-space-empower-the-marginalized/510243749632598/

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[From the web] Duterte is making a big mistake – by Christian Gultia and Ernesto Neri

Political persecution and killings of activists and human rights defenders have been consistently at the top of the government’s agenda since Rodrigo Duterte assumed the presidency in 2016. To date, more than 2,000 human rights defenders have already been attacked through various forms including threat, intimidation, harassment, trumped-up charges, and extrajudicial killing. The massive crackdown against activists has transformed the Philippines into one of the most notorious countries for civil society.

War against dissent

The administration has been successful in orchestrating a systematic and organized campaign against dissenters and members of the opposition. The purest form of the strategy, which populists like Duterte use to stifle dissent, is the process that we call “othering” – a process of social exclusion, separating the “us” from “them.” To put it simply, the government made it a norm to exclude individuals or groups who are against the state’s policies and direction as “enemies” of change, and as a response, the government must get rid of them.

Drug dependents who have fallen prey to the war on drugs are victims of the process. The public has been conditioned to believe that those who are engaged in drug activities, especially those who engage in small-scale drug transactions, are irreformable. Any attempt to rehabilitate them would mean wasted state resources.

The same process is being used against dissenters and activists through red-tagging or branding them as communists. Only recently, offices of national democratic organizations were raided and their members were arrested.

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