Marcos government no better than Duterte’s, rights defenders say

Like previous governments, the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. administration is failing to comply with its obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a human rights group said.

On the 75th anniversary of the signing of the international treaty last Sunday, December 10, human rights alliance Karapatan said the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government, much like the preceding Rodrigo Duterte regime, is committing various violations of human rights and the international humanitarian law amid widespread and intensifying poverty of Filipinos.

“Among the most violated is the right to life. As of November 2023, (we have) documented 87 extrajudicial killings in the course of the Marcos Jr. regime’s brutal counter- insurgency war since he began his term in July 2022,” the group said.

Among those killed by government personnel was a nine-year old girl to a mentally ill farmer,” Karapatan revealed.

The group also said there have been 12 victims of enforced disappearance; 316 victims of illegal and arbitrary arrest; 22,391 victims of bombing; 39,769 victims of indiscriminate firing; 24,670 victims of forced evacuation; 552 victims of forced surrender; and 1,609,49 6 victims of threats, harassment and intimidation, including red-tagging.

Karapatan added hundreds are facing “trumped up charges,” including 795 political detainees in the country’s notoriously overcrowded prisons.

At least seventeen of political prisoners are peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in its peace process with the Manila government.

Rights defenders pelt effigies of Marcos Jr., Duterte-Carpio and US imperialism with red paint and eggs in Manila on International Human Rights Day 2023. (Karlo Manalansan/Bulatlat)

Violations in the name of counter-insurgency

The country’s most active human rights alliance said the Marcos government has continued to implement repressive laws such as the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 to suppress dissent as well as derail development and humanitarian work.

“The wrongful designation of peace consultants and negotiators, as well as community and indigenous people’s leaders, and the baseless charges against human rights defenders have exposed the weaponization of these laws to violate the people’s constitutional rights,” Karapatan said.

The group also condemned the government’s counter-insurgency program and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) as a “militarist whole-of-nation approach” that go after human rights defenders, instead of addressing the roots of the civil wars in the country.

Karapatan, which co-organized the 2023 International Human Rights Day protests in Manila with Bagong Alyansang Makabayan last Sunday, said killings under the government’s anti-drug programs continue.

It revealed that the Dahas Project of the Third World Studies Program of the University of the Philippines has documented at least 474 drug-war related killings under Marcos.

This belies Marcos government’s claims that its version of the drug war is “bloodless”, the group said.

“Despite Marcos Jr.’s cultivated facade, the sordid figures on rights violations prove that he is his dictator-father’s son and his regime, a continuation of that of his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte. Duterte himself is accountable for up to 30,000 deaths in his bloody war on drugs and the killings of 422 activists, on top of other grave violations of human rights,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

Rights defenders elsewhere in the Philippines also held protest rallies in Baguio, Southern Tagalog, Naga, Legazpi, Bacolod, Iloilo, Roxas, Kalibo and Davao while Filipino activists at the Climate Change Summit in Dubai also attended international human rights day in the emirate. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)