'Protesta de Mayo' held against alleged human rights abuses

Anjo Bagaoisan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 27 2018 06:03 PM

MANILA - Human rights groups on Saturday held their own version of the traditional Flores de Mayo procession on Sunday, depicting what they said was the state of the country under the Duterte administration.

Human rights groups Karapatan and Hustisya held the "Protesta de Mayo Laban sa Tiraniya," at the University of the Philippines' Diliman campus.

Five "sagalas" depicting human rights issues held a procession around a portion of the academic oval.

The Reyna Elena or main sagala was Eleanor de Guzman, daughter of detained peace consultant Rafael Baylosis and wife of trade union organizer Marklen Maojo Maga, who was also imprisoned. 

She portrayed the Reyna de la Justicia or Queen of Justice. Carrying shackles, weighing scales, doves and wearing makeup that made her look like she was crying blood, she called for the release of political detainees and a continuation of peace talks.

The sister of a teenager who went missing in Laguna and turned up dead in another province in 2017 portrayed the Reyna de los Martires, or queen of the martyrs. 

She wore a blood-stained gown and a police line as a sash to symbolize people killed amid the government’s bloody anti-drug campaign. 

Police have said that around 4,000 drug suspects were killed in 'legitimate encounters' since the government launched the anti-narcotic campaign nearly two years ago.

A Lumad youth, meanwhile, wore traditional indigenous garb in her depiction of Reina de la Paz or Queen of Peace and called for the end to martial law in Mindanao.

Freedom fighter Gabriela Silang was painted on the skirt of the Reina Esperanza or Queen of Hearts, who called for an end to the tagging of activists as enemies of the state.

A muzzled volunteer who wore a quilt of newspaper pages meanwhile portrayed Reina de la Verdad or Queen of Truth who activists said symbolized the state of press freedom and freedom of expression in the country today.

Cristina Palabay of Karapatan said that aside from being a protest, the women are also supporting the #BabaeAko #LalabanAko campaign that arose in reaction to President Rodrigo Duarte's statements and reported sentiments toward women.

Palabay said they are calling out tyranny in all forms included the sexism seen in the Duterte’s statements.

"More pointed message against tyranny in all forms including the sexism of the president. Undoubtedly the human rights situation in the country has worsened under his administration," she said.

The President has defended himself, saying he still trusts the capabilities and competence of women, but that there are certain tasks that are not suitable for them.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte’s statement was just “a mere play of words.”

The groups said they've been doing similar protests since 2008.