PRESS RELEASE
08 December 2020

References:
Erlinda Cadapan, Desaparecidos Chairperson, 0922 974 2431
Evangeline Hernandez, Hustisya Chairperson, 0950 4477 934

Statement for International Human Rights Day 2020: Kin of EJK victims, disappeared hit Duterte, NTF-ELCAC over ‘blatant disregard of people’s rights’

Days before the commemoration of the International Human Rights Day, rights groups Desaparecidos (Pamilya ng Desaparesidos para sa Katarungan) and Hustisya (Pagkakaisa ng mga Biktima para sa Hustisya) strongly condemned the Duterte regime’s deadly and fascist policies that lead to intensified attacks against Filipinos and the blatant disregard of people’s rights – the regime’s evident actions in the midst of disasters and a serious health crisis.

Desaparecidos Chairperson Erlinda Cadapan said that the already dismal state of human rights in the country “further plummeted and continuously deteriorates as the present administration insists on pursuing its crackdown on activists and political opponents despite the glaring demand of Filipinos for real and sincere actions that will address their concerns.”

“It is infuriating that the government’s priority is to suppress people’s civil and political liberties while it neglects responsibilities to address the medical and socioeconomic problems made more stark by the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent disasters that hit the country. We are nowhere near ‘flattening the curve’ of the coronavirus infections. A lot of Filipinos have lost their jobs and livelihoods brought by government failure and the subsequent economic recession,” she said.

Cadapan noted that Filipinos in Bicol, Cagayan Valley and other regions in Luzon severely affected by the numerous typhoons that hit the country still grapple with everyday challenges to recover. Yet, the Duterte administration is more invested in vilifying dissenters and critics through its fascist and militarist schemes.

Data from human rights group Karapatan showed that since the beginning of President Rodrigo Duterte’s reign, there were 353 cases of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) and 488 cases of frustrated extrajudicial killings in the country. The current administration’s infamous ‘war on drugs’ also ended the lives of more than 7,000 individuals, a report from Amnesty International said.

Evangeline Hernandez of Hustisya, for her part, said that “Duterte’s so-called war on drugs and its counterinsurgency operations resulted in bloodshed and tears from families grieving over their loved ones. It’s such a shame that state forces continuously smear the victims of its bloody rampage as ‘drug addicts’ or ‘enemies of the State.”

Representing a rights group which consists of relatives of victims of extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations, Hernandez also slammed the President’s “open sanction of murder and disregard for human rights” through his anti-people policies such as the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 and the formation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

“The creation of NTF-ELCAC, a useless agency that wastes millions of pesos from people’s taxes to spew malicious and baseless accusations that endanger people’s lives, worsens the already dismal state of human rights in the country. With the enactment of the terror law, the spree of red-tagging and intensified political persecution will certainly worsen, especially with the government’s use of fake surrenders and rabid online trolls who peddle false information to discredit people fighting for what is right,” she said.

Warning that the President is emboldened to push his agenda of strengthening his tyrannical rule, the Hustisya official said that his anti-people policies should be stopped.

“We reiterate our demand for justice and accountability over the killings and other gross human rights violations as we assert our call for the abolition and defunding of the NTF-ELCAC. Together with the Filipino people, we will remain steadfast in our commitment to seek justice, and in upholding human rights,” ended Hernandez. ###
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