5 years of no justice, no peace under Duterte, say progressive groups

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 26 2021 02:09 PM

5 years of no justice, no peace under Duterte, say progressive groups 1
Protesters led by BAYAN march along España boulevard to Mendiola in Manila to mark the 5th year of President Duterte in office on June 30, 2021. The group slammed Duterte for his alleged crimes against humanity for the thousands killed as part of the government’s war on drugs and the death of activists and critics during his administration. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Five years of no justice, no peace, only state terror and criminal negligence.

This, according to rights group alliance KARAPATAN, is the legacy of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte as he makes his fifth and final State of the Nation Address Monday afternoon.

“None of his so-called achievements, which he will predictably tout today in his SONA, can overshadow the thousands killed in his murderous policies and programs, and how these atrocities continue with impunity. This is Duterte’s only legacy: a full-blown human rights crisis and democratic backsliding in the Philippines,” KARAPATAN Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

More than 6,000 drug suspects have been killed under the administration's drug war based on official figures but human rights groups estimate there could be as many as more than 30,000 killed since 2016.

But aside from this, KARAPATAN said 414 have allegedly been extrajudicially killed because of anti-insurgency efforts of the government, aside from more than a thousand illegal arrests and detentions.

Among those killed were 61 women rights defenders like Zara Alvarez, Ana Marie “Chai” Evangelista and Eugenia Magpantay, that’s why women rights defenders from Tanggol Bayi have called for a stop to the killings.

“We weep with the mothers, sisters, and daughters of the victims of Duterte’s sham and bloody war on drugs. We stand with them as we remember their loved ones and demand justice. They all have been silenced — but the voices of the victims of killings resonate through their loved ones who have become human rights defenders themselves,” the group said.

The government has several times denied summary killings under the anti-drug campaign, saying drug suspects killed in operations had violently resisted arrest. It has also repeatedly said it respects the rule of law in the country. 

The justice department in May, however, said the "nanlaban" (resisted arrest) cases in the drug war were "revealing" and showed how police conduct their operations. 

LAWYERS' KILLINGS

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines on Saturday said 63 lawyers have been killed under this administration. The latest are the killings of deputy city prosecutor Victor Begtang Jr. on June 23, 2021 inside his house in Apayao and the killing of lawyer Sitti Gilda Mahinay-Sapie in Davao City on July 14, 2021.

“The IBP grieves and is appalled by the increasing and sheer number of assassinations of lawyers, judges, and prosecutors with impunity. In stark contrast, the number of lawyers killed during the previous administrations stretching way back to 1972 was no less than 10 for each administration, with one administration even having no lawyer death ever recorded,” it said in a statement.

Martial law victims under the group Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto or SELDA have likened the Duterte administration to former dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law, calling it an “ill copy” and a “haunting reminder” of why military rule did not work.

Among the similarities, they said: human rights violations are allegedly brazenly committed by state forces; critics and dissenters are supposedly harassed, illegally arrested, or shot in broad daylight; fake news and black propaganda are rampant; strengthened control over the country by imposing illogical lockdowns and militarist schemes; control of the press through the ABS-CBN shutdow; and legalizing a witch hunt against critics by passing the Anti-Terrorism Act.

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KAPATID, a group of supporters of political prisoners, warned of more violations and arrests under the Anti-Terror law, noting there are now 715 political prisoners in the country, the highest in 35 years since the ouster of Marcos.

SELDA also questioned the Duterte government’s borrowing of millions of dollars without knowing where the funds went, just like during Marcos’ regime.

Meanwhile, ANAKPAWIS criticized the Duterte administration for allegedly abandoning the poor during the pandemic, and the Duterte family for its supposed ambition to keep a tight hold of power and influence in allegedly pushing for their political dynasty— the height of immorality and corruption in the history of Philippine governance, the group said.

“The Duterte dynasty is certainly akin to the present, a scourge on the poor and Filipino people. Their faces are of mass murder and deaths, hunger and poverty, treason and rotten politics. We urge the ordinary Filipino to break out from the Duterte brand of tyranny, and join the broad call to end their regime, by pressing him to bow out from his post, and eventually hold the criminal against humanity seriously accountable,” Anakpawis Party-list national president and former representative Ariel Casilao said.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers said the case at the International Criminal Court against the President’s drug war continues to move.

“For the five years spent weaponizing the law against opposition, he faces an aegis of human rights lawyers more committed than ever to the tenets of democracy,” it said in a statement.

“Contrary to his expectations, the president shall be addressing a people not ready to move on and find closure in the twilight of his administration. Instead, he faces a people resolved to seek vindication – in the courts, in the ballot, in the streets, and even across the seas and in the horizons,” it added.

Meanwhile, Migrante Middle East also slammed the President for allegedly abandoning overseas Filipino workers during the pandemic, citing the supposedly slow repatriation of OFWs who want to return home.

Ecumenical Christian youth group Student Christian Movement of the Philippines hit the Duterte administration for allegedly railroading various policies such as the CREATE and TRAIN laws as well as the Rice Tariffication law, which supposedly have adverse effects on workers, peasants, and the urban poor.

The various progressive groups call for an end to “Duterte’s reign of terror” and echoed calls to hold him accountable for his supposed crimes against the Filipino people.

“As various democratic forces come together today, we say ‘no more!’ to a Duterte kind of governance. We will not let him get away with mass murder and State repression, and we vow to not let his successor claim victory in the coming elections,” KARAPATAN’s Palabay said.

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