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EcuVoice: PH government exporting red-tagging in Geneva

GENEVA, Switzerland—A group of rights defenders called on the Philippine Mission to the ongoing 43rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council here to just answer questions about the human rights situation in the Philippines instead of engaging in red-baiting.

“The Philippine Government must focus on explaining to the international community why rights defenders are being killed and arrested, members of the Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (EcuVoice) delegation said.

Reacting to the government Mission’s statement Wednesday, March 5, at the Palais des Nations, EcuVoice said the government must also stop recklessly accusing killed and threatened human rights defenders as supporters of communists.

“How are vilifying human rights defenders as terrorists a justification to the fact that many of us are under threat of unjust arrests and are being killed by the security forces of the Duterte government?” EcuVoice delegation co-head and Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

The group said that while paying lip service to UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Michel Forst’s report on the invaluable contribution of human rights defenders, the government accused rights activists in the Philippines of “[using] the cover of human rights defenders to protect, cover, or promote agendas of deceit and violence.”

The government further accused Filipino “communists” of benefitting from and exploiting the goodwill that the United Nations system endows human rights defenders.

 “Mr. Forst, you have mentioned the need to address impunity and provide effective remedy, what would you advice in such situation where unscrupulous groups are using the defender badge as an impunity blanket to evade accountability from gross human rights violations?” the government self-righteously taunted.

“This red-tagging spree being exported by the government in the august halls of the UN Human Rights Council is ad nauseam and reflects not only the paucity of its arguments but the bankruptcy of its moral ground in the community of nations.

“Enough already. Just answer the questions please, “EcuVoice team leader Atty. Edre Olalia said.

The EcuVoice delegation is in this city to follow up on at least written submissions related to the Iceland-led resolution in July 2019 calling for an investigation on human rights violations under the Rodrigo Duterte government.

Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment international networks coordinator Clemente Bautista successfully presented an oral intervention on the killings of environmental defenders last Monday, March 2.

Other delegation members include a human rights worker facing arrest when she returns home, a congresswoman whose partylist is villified, a widow of a slain human rights lawyera bishop who is facing death threats, a mother whose two sons were murdered in the “drug war,” a lawyer who is labelled and his group viciously smeared a journalist whose peers are being pressured, and this reporter whose colleagues are facing various threats. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Gunmen kill Cebu human rights worker in broad daylight

A Cebu City human rights worker who was organizing families of victims of the government’s so-called war on drugs was himself killed in a brazen daytime attack on board a jeepney Wednesday, August 8.

Human rights defender and Rise Up-Cebu volunteer Butch Rosales, 45, was shot in broad daylight was on his way to Mandaue, Punta Engaño, Lapu-Lapu City.

He boarded a multicab jeepney and sat at the front passenger seat while the assailant sat at the back.

The gunman shot Rosales at the head several times and took off on a waiting getaway motorcycle driven by another man. The unidentified perpetrators did not bother to wear masks.

A veteran activist, Rosales worked as an urban poor and labor organizer before he became a volunteer of Rise Up for Life and for Rights.

Rise Up is a network of volunteers and rights defenders committed to work in the defense of life and protection of human rights against drug-related extrajudicial killings and violations under the Rodrigo Duterte government.

Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights condemned Rosales’ killing, blaming the culture of impunity under the Duterte government for the widespread killing of suspected drug users as well as human rights defenders.

“With the rising number of killings conducted with impunity in Cebu, Rosales was killed in the same manner that suspected drug users have been killed in the conduct of the Duterte regime’s drug war, Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said in a statement.

“This case reveals the brazenness of perpetrators – a result of the assurances given by the regime to these killers and the prevailing impunity that lingers after the killings,” Palabay noted.

Fellow activist Dyan Gumanao of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – Cebu said Rosales was “cool and kind” who always asked how his colleagues and friends were doing.

“He was like an elder brother to me. He makes it a point to share with us his experiences in organizing urban poor communities,” Gumano said.

Rosales’ former colleague Yoyong Suarez said his long-time friend was always in the frontline defending urban poor communities against demolition and development aggression in Cebu.

“In the Philippines, individuals who assert their right to live will [themselves] be deprived of their right to life,” Suarez said.

“The Duterte regime’s witch-hunt against government critics and the continuing culture of impunity are blatant rights violation against the people. Justice for Butch Rosales and all victims of Duterte’s war against the poor!,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Activists march for justice at the start of quo warranto hearings vs chief justice

The Coalition for Justice and Movement Against Tyranny, among other groups, led a March for Justice in Baguio City last April 10 at the start of the Supreme Court’s deliberations on the quo warranto petition against its Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.

 

Groups award rights defenders at Araw ng Kagitingan

Civil liberty groups honored groups and individuals they said uphold human rights despite wanton violations by the Duterte regime.

On the occassion of the Araw ng Kagitingan or Day of Valor honoring heroes who fought against Japanese imperialism in the Philippines, the groups said the honorees embody courage as they stand up against abuses of the government.

Among the honorees were journalists Raffy Lerma and Pia Rañada who are being vilified for their photos and reports critical of the government.

Chief Justice Ma Lourdes Sereno, facing impeachment moves by Duterte allies, was also honored.