Press Release

April 29, 2019

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, +639173162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, +63918-9790580

Rights group lauds people-driven initiatives in the US to decry rights violations in PH

Karapatan today lauded various initiatives in the US by solidarity groups and Filipino organizations to condemn human rights violations in the Philippines. Among the outcomes of which include the recent resolution of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the legislative body within the city and county government in California, condemning the Duterte administration’s war on drugs and attacks against human rights defenders in the country.

The said resolution urged San Francisco members of the US House of Representatives, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to “support a congressional hearing on the consequences of U.S. tax dollars going to the Philippine military and police and to champion cutting U.S. military aid to the Duterte regime.” Full copy of the said SFBS resolution may be accessed here:

The resolution was prodded by initiatives of US-based organizations Malaya Movement and the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines-US chapter, which recently organized one of the biggest Filipino political summit in the US last April 2019. The San Francisco Labor Council called on the US Department of Defense to divest from the Duterte administration and the Philippine military and police, in an April 8 resolution:

These efforts followed two congressional resolutions filed at the House of Representatives and the US Senate. House Resolution No. 233 authored by Rep. Jackie Speier and five other congressional representatives condemned Philippine government for “its role in state-sanctioned extrajudicial killings by police and other armed individuals as part of the “War on Drugs”; the arrest and detention of human rights defenders and political leaders who exercise their rights to freedom of expression; and the continued detention of Senator Leila De Lima.” A counterpart Senate Resolution No. 142 authored by Senator Edward Markey and four other senators was filed with similar content, and included a call condemning the harassment, arrest and unjustified judicial proceedings against Rappler’s Maria Ressa. Copies of the said resolutions are appended in the SF Board of Supervisors resolution.

“The Palace is again fuming with regard to the resolution. Salvador Panelo’s mouth was frothing, claiming the resolution cited ‘false narratives’ and ‘bogus statistics.’ The Duterte regime’s defensiveness with its drug war has reached a paramount degree, to the extent that it can no longer take criticism nor acknowledge the glaring evidence of misconduct, excesses and brutality borne out of this policy. Now, it only banks on denial and a proclivity for taking out the concept of ‘soveriegnty’ when legitimate questions and prospects of investigations are raised by foreign nationals and the international community. Meanwhile, local groups and individuals criticizing Duterte’s war on drugs, among other fascist campaigns, are being the subject of reprisals,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

Palabay added that “it is hypocritical for Panelo to cite these resolutions as forms of toxic intrusions, when it is the regime’s toxic barbarism and fascism that has cause harm on the lives of many. The war on drugs and the Duterte government’s vehement refusal to review and halt this barbaric policy are among the factors raising the toxins in the country’s veins. These policies are gradually being rejected by Filipinos and the international community. We emphasize that expressions of solidarity to the plight of the Filipino people are not intrusions, nor do they violate our sovereignty. These parallel efforts at urging the government for justice are legitimate exercise of people’s rights. In our context, it is necessary and justified.”

The Karapatan secretary general also assailed spokesperson Panelo on having the audacity to cite victories of families of drug war victims as proof that the Duterte regime “does not tolerate police abuse.” She added: “This is really a bit of a stretch. If the Malacanang had their way, none of these abusive cops would see their day in court. It is the effort of the families, of the human rights groups that assisted them, of brave lawyers, and of the Filipino people seeking accountability, which has allowed us to inch closer to injustice. How dare Panelo and this government take credit for the perseverance of bereaved families for justice.”

“It is the drug war that is toxic. It is the Duterte regime’s fascist policies that are toxic. It is this government’s double talk on sovereignty that is toxic. It irks us that sovereignty is now being a convenient excuse to discredit inquiries and efforts at confirming allegations against the Duterte government. The image of the West Philippine Sea and the artifical islands now built on it is enough to demonstrate the irony and the shameless hypocrisy,” Palabay said.

“The spectre of human rights violations and irreparable damage caused by the drug war will haunt this government, and it will be the victims’ families who will be at the forefront of the quest for justice and accountability. As we welcome these initiatives and expressions of solidarity, we likewise call on other governments from different parts of the globe to do the same,” 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.