LLANESCA T. PANTI; GMA News
5 May 2021
Human rights advocates have formally called on the Canadian government
to cease giving anti-terrorism aid to the Philippines amid the alleged use of anti-terrorism policies to crack down on dissent and purge human rights workers.
Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan Alliance Philippines; Catherine Coumans, research coordinator of MiningWatch Canada; Guy-Lin Beaudoin, co-chair of the International Coalition on Human Rights in the Philippines – Quebec; and Filipino journalist Maria Ressa issued this appeal during the Canadian parliament’s Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development meeting on Wednesday morning (Manila time).
Palabay cited the death of 15 Karapatan members in the last five years, including paralegal Sara Alvarez who was killed by unidentified assailants in August 2020. Alvarez died after her photo appeared in a tarpaulin branding her as a communist personality.
“These deaths [of human rights workers] define the climate of fear and impunity in the country. Perjured testimonies, fabricated evidence, questionable search warrants are used for arbitrary arrests and detention. We eat death, rape and sexual violence threats online and offline. Canadian dollars and taxes should not be used to kill and silence us,” Palabay told the subcommittee.
Palabay then said that the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which allows authorities to detain suspected terrorists for 24 days without a warrant and filing of charges against them, only worsened the “epidemic of human rights violations.”