PHILIPPINES: Massive protests against human rights violation under Duterte’s violent presidency 

(Hong Kong, 9 December 2017) The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been informed that different human rights groups across the country will hold protests and a series of other events tomorrow, December 10, to mark the International Human Rights Day.

Today, the Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights (Karapatan), an alliance of human rights NGOs and people’s organizations, holds demonstrations they dubbed as “What’s cooking up in Malacanang?” Their protest is an attempt to satirized President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown, not only of his political opponents, but constitutional bodies with powers to check his abuse.

In their statement, Karapatan said President Duterte’s actions are recipes for a “full blown dictatorship”, if he succeeds. One of these is Duterte and his political ally’s ongoing action to impeach Philippine Supreme Court chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Also today, the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (Pahra), another alliance of human rights groups, holds an “Alab ng Puso” concert, which aims to encourage Filipinos to stand up and defend human rights. Pahra’s partner organization, iDEFEND (In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement), said this event is meant to raise awareness on the importance of human rights, freedom and justice, and to stimulate outcry.

Tomorrow, Pahra and its partner organizations will hold protest actions in Metro Manila. Protest actions will also be held in major cities in Luzon, the Visayas and in Mindanao, including in Duterte’s hometown, Davao. Pahra said these protests are meant to “counter the government’s narratives of being pro-poor”. They are meant to amplify a public outcry against human rights violations committed in the country.

Meanwhile, Karapatan’s satirized protest is a prelude to a much bigger demonstration to mark the international human rights day, inside and outside the country. Outside the capital, Karapatan is expected to mobilize 7,000 demonstrators in Aklan, Capiz and Iloilo cities, all in Panay Island, in the Visayas. In Bicol region, about 30,000 demonstrators are expected to join.

Outside the country, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), a coalition advocating for human rights and peace in the Philippines, will hold protests. In Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Australia in East Asia and the Pacific. In Italy, Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands in Europe, and in Canada. ICHRP is Karapatan’s network of international organizations.

Meanwhile, the AHRC strongly supports these protests actions by local and international groups to draw attention to the worsening state of human rights in the country. The AHRC considers Duterte’s presidency as the most violent and politically intolerant since Marcos. Duterte’s crackdown on criminals and addicts, and the renewed killings of legal leftist after peace talks collapse with the communists, is a dangerous combination distinctive to his leadership.

“No president in Philippine history has ever combined, and still gets away with it, routine killings in national scale of supposed criminals and addicts, under drug war; and human rights defenders and leftists political activists, the supposed terrorists. Only Duterte has done that and continue to do so, as we speak”, the AHRC said.

The Philippines attracted the world’s attention in early 2016 with unprecedented level of killings by law enforcement agencies since President Duterte came to power. These killings are linked to his campaign to crackdown on drugs, which led to a wave of unlawful killings across the country. Many of these killings have amounted to extrajudicial executions, a persistent pattern in the country’s long-standing problem of impunity by abusive state security forces.

The International Human Rights Day is an annual event to mark adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

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