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Karapatan raises impact of terror law on women in PH before UN HRC

Press Release
6 March 2021

Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, +639173162831
Karapatan Public Information Desk, +639189790580

Karapatan raises impact of terror law on women in PH before UN HRC

Human rights watchdog Karapatan called on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC), the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights while Countering Terrorism to monitor the impact of the Anti-Terrorism Act and the Philippine government’s counterinsurgency and counterterrorism campaigns on the human rights situation in the country in a statement delivered via video and submitted before the council’s 46th session on Thursday, March 4.

In a statement delivered by the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) at the UN HRC, Karapatan Secretary General said that the Anti-Terrorism Act, which currently faces 37 petitions seeking to declare it unconstitutional before the Supreme Court, is “an overbroad and vague law, undermines the basic rights and freedoms” of Filipina human rights defenders (HRDs), such as the rights to “association, free expression, to uphold and defend women’s rights and human rights, among others.”

Emphasizing the impact of the Philippine government’s counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism campaigns on women HRDs in the country, Palabay stated before the UN HRC that, “even prior to the [Anti-Terrorism Act], 55 women HRDs in the Philippines have been killed; many more arrested, detained and are facing trumped up charges and wrongly tagged and vilified as terrorists, and at the receiving end of sexist pronouncements by government officials, thereby inciting violence and harm on them, including sexual violence.”

Women HRDs such as Karapatan paralegal Zara Alvarez, who was killed on August 17, 2020, was tagged by the Philippine government as a “terrorist” in the Department of Justice’s 2018 proscription petition under the now-repealed Human Security Act, along with more than 600 names which included a former UN Special Rapporteur, peace consultants, and other HRDs. Seven individuals named in the list, including Alvarez, have been killed.

62-year-old senior citizen Enriqueta Guelas and 41-year-old pregnant woman Elizabeth Estilon, who were arrested on December 24, 2020 after an alleged military raid inside their house in Brgy. Lalod, Bulusan, Sorsogon, are now also facing charges under the Anti-Terrorism Act due to accusations that they were New People’s Army rebels. The two women are currently detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology Sorsogon City District Jail since their transfer on January 20 this year. Estilon is due to give birth by the end of March.

“We urge the Council and the High Commissioner on Human Rights to monitor the human rights impact of the Anti-Terrorism Law in the Philippines, especially on women and girls, their families and communities, and ensure that women’s rights are protected,” Palabay concluded. ###

*Attached is the PDF copy of the statement delivered and submitted at the UNHRC session. You can watch the statement delivered by Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay via video through this link:


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.