Press Release | December 25, 2018

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, +639173162831
Karapatan Public Information Desk, +63995-5658306

Labelling, attacking critics won’t cover-up Duterte regime’s crimes

“President Duterte and his cabal of psychopath soldiers and police, along with his court jesters Salvador Panelo and Martin Andanar, are once again going on a spree of frothing-in-the-mouth red-tagging against those who criticize and oppose his murderous regime, again endangering groups and different sectors, particularly vocal critics of his murderous governance and rights defenders,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, condemning Duterte’s statements and new bout of red-tagging.

The Karapatan leader said that “with the pile of repressive policies on top of each other and the creation of a task force that will target alleged and suspected members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), these successive threats have become all too real, with thousands killed in the government’s sham drug war and 216 individuals killed in the course of its counterinsurgency program.”

“We have seen how Duterte and his state forces have killed on the basis of mere suspicion, putting all of us, in extreme, continuous danger. With such orders, Duterte, mimicking plunder queen Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the blood-thirsty Marcoses, makes no distinction between armed combatants and non-armed members of the opposition, and thus has added another footnote of evidence to his long list of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law,” Palabay stated.

She also slammed Secretary Andanar for his subsequent statement following Duterte’s pronouncement of the said task force. “PCOO Secretary Andanar, who simultaneously red-tagged parliamentarians, non-government and human rights organizations, is acting like an eager court jester desperate to earn the favor of his master after successive blunders and PR disasters from his office. This is not a new danger, but it has inched closer and closer to reality considering this regime’s record of outright disrespect to the people’s civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights,” she said.

In line with the threats faced by rights defenders, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Rights Defenders Michel Forst released a report which explicitly said that the public stigmatization of human rights defenders can incite perpetrators to act against them. Forst added that this stigmatization, along with judicial harassment, defamation, illegal arrest, and the criminalization of defenders remain an area of concern in the Philippines. “While the Duterte government denies the existence of attacks against defenders and their communities stated in Forst’s report, the attacks and threats have continued incessantly,” Palabay added.

On December 19, peasant leader Ricky Canete was arrested by bonnet-clad soldiers in civilian clothes in Sagay City, Negros Occidental, on trumped up charges, tagging Canete as a member of the New People’s Army. On the same day, Duterte, in a speech said he will place indigenous peoples in Mindanao in hamlets, even if his soldiers and their paramilitary groups have already turned Lumad communities into their camps and barracks.

On December 17, human rights defenders and Iglesia Filipino Independiente bishops Antonio Ablon and Carlo Morales were once again red-tagged in yet another set of graffiti in Misamis Occidental.

On December 16, Ariel Ronido, chairperson of Onyon sa Yanong Obrerong Nagkahiusa (Union of Common Agricultural Workers – OGYON) was illegally arrested by elements of the 1st Special Forces Batallion (SFB) of the Philippine Army on December 16 in Brgy. Lantay, Pangantucan, Bukidnon.

On December 13, United Methodist Church Pastor Marvin de Leon, a supporter of trade unionists in NutriAsia, survived an assassination attempt by motorcycle-riding men.

Palabay also said that rights organization Karapatan have been cited by the President in his speeches on national television six times, always along the lines of being a legal front of the CPP. Palabay also noted the surveillance outside the offices of Karapatan, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, Kodao Productions and Bayan last week.

“Lest this government forgets, it is bound by the Constitution and numerous international agreement that relegate it as the duty-bearer in the protection and promotion of human rights. Such actions are a direct violation of the government’s obligation to its people. However, tyrants and megalomaniacs have no sense of history. They forget that attacking critics will never cover-up their crimes. They forget that their crimes are exactly the reasons why people resist. And so we must continue to resist and make this government accountable,” Palabay concluded.


Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.