Fact-finding report revives rights accusations against Duterte admin
Business Mirror – https://businessmirror.com.ph/2019/12/13/fact-finding-report-revives-rights-accusations-against-duterte-admin/
13 December 2019

A high-level delegation of foreign-led human-rights advocates on Thursday reported that the Duterte administration has allegedly continued to countenance extrajudicial killings, harassments and gross violation of human rights.

A news statement from the Asia Pacific Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (APCHRP), whose members visited the country early this month for a fact-finding investigation, also called on President Duterte to stop such cases of attacks.

The delegation included church, union, political and foundation officials from Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Hong Kong. Its report would be filed to the United Nations Human Rights Council, particularly to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The delegation declared that many indigenous people (IP), including Aetas and Lumads, have become “refugees in different parts of the Philippines as they flee from escalating violence, rape and harassment by mining and other business interests taking over their ancestral land.”

“Development aggression is the cause of many of these crimes against indigenous people. The Duterte administration is overseeing a development agenda that favors the Filipino rich and international corporate interests at the expense of indigenous communities, urban poor and other disadvantaged people,” it said.

The delegation added that a number of IP and environmental defenders have been “targeted by military used by big plantation and mining companies to carry out extrajudicial killings and disappearances.”

The members of the delegation, which included former Australian Sen. Lee Rhiannon, said the administration’s war on drugs should be recognized as a crime against humanity because of the scale of its killings.

“The need for a top-level international investigation of the extrajudicial punishments [killings and disappearances] is underlined by the findings of Human Rights Watch that Filipino police are falsifying evidence to justify the unlawful killings they have been involved in. The call to investigate human-rights violations in the Philippines was made, as well, by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers [NUPL] in a report they submitted to the OHCHR on December 9, 2019,” it said.

The delegation also scored the administration over its habit of “jailing people for no reason other than that they expose human-rights violations and oppression, or they are political opponents.”

“Political prisoners include prisoners of conscience who have expressed views that the Duterte administration disagrees with. They are usually arrested on trumped-up charges. There are numerous incidents of the police planting evidence on people to justify their arrest and imprisonment,” it said.

During the fact-finding mission, members of the delegation met with IPs, vulnerable communities, leaders of civil society groups and unions, some members of the House of Representatives, and of the Senate and the Commission on Human Rights.