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ICHRP Statement for International Human Rights Day

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ICHRP Statement for International Human Rights Day

Defend Human Rights!
End State Terror!
Bring Justice for the Victims!

Statement

December 10, 2022

The Philippines has its new President Marcos but remains a killing ground for
political dissidents, community organizers, indigenous people, rights
advocates, and alleged drug suspects. The machinery of terror set up by the
Duterte Regime under its “shoot-to-kill” and arbitrary arrest policies remains
firmly in place. As we mark International Human Rights Day, ICHRP
denounces the ongoing violations of political, social and economic rights and
attacks on freedom of speech and the press that continue under the Marcos
Government.

At least 10 peace consultants have been murdered by the Philippine
government since it withdrew from the peace process with the National
Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in 2017. Most recently, NDFP
peace consultant Erickson Acosta and peasant organizer Joseph Jimenez
were detained and then executed in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, on
November 30. The two were captured by elements of the 94th and 47th
Infantry Battalions of the Philippine Army. The military attempted to cover up
the murder by projecting Acosta as an armed combatant at the time of his
death. Locals said no firefight nor encounter had occurred. Another NDFP
peace consultant Pedro Codaste was killed on January 21, 2022, by the
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). This case also involved allegations of
abduction and torture by the security forces. The execution of prisoners by the
AFP represents a clear violation of International Humanitarian Law.
Negros has been the scene of ongoing state violence over the past several
months, with reports of widespread aerial bombing of civilians in early October
2022, most notably in Himamaylan City in Negros Occidental. Bombing
incidents lasting for 20 minutes were reported as well in Sitio Cunalom and
parts of Casipungan, Cambulan, Pangi and Igaw, all of Barangay Carabalan.
In the same areas residents were forced to flee their homes, with up to 2,500
persons heading for evacuation centers on October 6, after the AFP brought

in artillery and conducted indiscriminate firing on the communities.
Indiscriminate aerial bombardment and artillery strikes on communities by the
AFP represents a clear violation of International Humanitarian Law.
The media remains under attack from the Marcos government. Cyber Libel
Laws have been used in attempts to both silence and close down
independent media and have produced a litany of charges against Nobel
Peace Prize winning journalist Maria Ressa. Journalists continue to be killed
by state actors under the Marcos government, including the recent death of
on-air personality Percy Lapid, killed by unidentified gunman allegedly under
the direction of the head of the Department of Corrections. The Philippines
remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a journalist.

The War on Drugs also continues under the Marcos government, despite
protestations to the contrary. The Marcos government attended the 41st
Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines at the UN Human Rights Council
in Geneva on November 14, 2022. The new government promised “real
justice in real time”, claiming they are taking concrete measures to correct the
wrongs of the Duterte government. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Despite the change of government, all the machinery and instruments of state
terror continue to function. Police anti-drug operations continue to extra-
judicially target poor people, with impunity. Recent data from the Third World
Studies Center in Manila indicates there have been 127 drug killings by
police between Marcos’ inauguration on July 1st and November 7, 2022 – the
Duterte policy rolling on. The Anti-Terrorism Act with its broad sweeping
powers and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict
(NTF-ELCAC), along with the Philippine National Police and the AFP,
continue to operate as mechanisms to crush dissent and to violate the civil
and political rights of citizens. No one is spared.

The Marcos government claims it is addressing the drug war killings, and
claim to have investigated 17,000 police officers and filed 15 charges in the
first six months. On the one hand, this suggests that there are 17,000 police
involved in 6,600 officially-acknowledged drug war killings. And on the other
hand, at this rate it will take the Philippine government approximately 1000
years to provide justice to the actual 30,000 odd victims of the Drug War. This
would be an example of Justice Secretary Remulla’s “real justice in real time”!
Clearly, domestic remedies have failed, as elements of the judiciary are
complicit in the war on dissent, using the bench to support military and police
attacks on dissenters by providing broad powers though warrants of arrest
that frequently ended in the summary deaths of the accused. The courts are
just one element in the entire machinery of the state which has been
weaponized in the fascist whole-of-nation approach to target regime
opponents.

In this context we urge the international community and international
institutions to stand with the victims and those who struggle for democracy
and human rights in the Philippines. We call for continued pressure through
international mechanisms and international solidarity to push the Philippine
government to action. To this end, we call for:

  1. Pressure on the UNHRC to conduct an independent investigation of
    the drug war killings and other political killings as called for in the June
    2020 report of former UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle
    Bachelet.
  2. The Philippine government to rejoin the International Criminal Court
    (ICC) and allow it to conduct investigations in the Philippines related to
    the Crime Against Humanity of murder and violations of International
    Humanitarian Law by the Duterte government.
  3. Pressure the Philippine government to stop red tagging – executive
    designation of individuals and organizations as terrorists, such as
    NDFP Peace Negotiator Luis Jalandoni in the Netherlands, and the
    Rural Missionaries of the Philippines.
  4. The Marcos government to cease all actions that undermine the re-
    commencement of the peace talks with the NDFP.
  5. Suspension of all international aid to the Armed Forces of the
    Philippines, Philippine National Police, and counter-terrorism programs
    which would place weapons in the hands of those committing these
    grave human rights violations.
  6. National governments to introduce legislation to sanction key members
    of the Duterte government for their role in the well documented mass
    killings and the associated crimes against humanity.
  7. The Philippine Government to release all political prisoners.
    Further we urge the International Criminal Court to pursue its case against
    former President Duterte and his senior officials, to follow the evidence and
    give voice to the victims.

    Further comment: Peter Murphy, ICHRP Chairperson, +61418312301
    [email protected]