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Various sectors raise alarm over 'deteriorating human rights situation' under Duterte

By Movement Against Tyranny
December 9, 2017

QUEZON CITY – On the eve of International Human Rights Day, concerned individuals from a broad range of sectors joined voices in decrying the worsening state of human rights in the country.

In a joint statement issued yesterday, Dec. 8, incumbent and former legislators, lawyers and doctors, artists and members of the media, academics and religious leaders, representatives of NGOs and peoples organizations, and prominent individuals warned of a “new and wider wave of killings and human rights violations in the country” under the Duterte government.

Among the signatories to the “Joint Statement of Concern on the Deteriorating Human Rights Situation” are: Sen. Francis Pangilinan and former senators Rene Saguisag and Wigberto Tañada; congressmen Edcel Lagman, Jose Christopher Belmonte, Sarah Elago, Carlos Zarate, Emi de Jesus, Antonio Tinio, France Castro, Ariel Casilao and Tom Villarin.

The statement reads:

“As December 10, International Human Rights Day nears, we decry the continuing deterioration of human rights in our country.

“On top of the premeditated killings by police officers of defenseless youth Kian delos Santos, 17, Carlo Angelo Arnaiz, 19, and Reynaldo “Kulot” de Guzman, 14, the recent killings of Catholic priest Fr. Marcelito Paez in Nueva Ecija. Pastor Lovelito Quinoñes in Mindoro Oriental, and human rights activist Elisa Badayos in Negros Oriental signal a new and wider wave of killings and human rights violations in the country.

“Such killings come on the heels of Pres. Duterte's closing the door on the peace talks with the NDFP, and his admonition to state security forces to shoot and kill suspected armed rebels. We are alarmed that just as Oplan Tokhang saw thousands of alleged drug users or peddlers mowed down based on mere suspicion and spurious claims of "nanlaban," the President’s new order can also give state forces the license to kill unarmed civilians conveniently labelled as “rebels.”

“The President's threat to crack down on activists, critics and all those whom he imagines are conspiring to topple his government has a chilling effect on the public and impinges on our people's exercise of their political rights and civil liberties.

“The continuing efforts to undermine the system of checks and balances in government – the impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, the threat to impeach Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, the bullying of the Commission on Human Rights and the continued detention of Sen. Leila de Lima – are equally worrisome. More so efforts of the President and his supporters to threaten and intimidate members of the media.

“And yet the greatest threat to human rights today is Pres. Duterte’s moves toward authoritarian rule whether through charter change ostensibly to shift to a federal system of government, or an outright power grab through a so-called “revolutionary government.”

“We call on our people to be critical and ever vigilant. Let us resist the erosion of our basic human and democratic rights. Let us unite in fighting tyranny and dictatorship.”

Also among the signatories are: former cabinet members Judy Taguiwalo and Rafael Mariano, lawyers Pacifico Agabin, Ada D. Abad, Antonio La Viña, Jose Manuel Diokno, Pablito V. Sanidad, Arno V. Sanidad, Vicky Avena, Edre Olalia; former congressmen Lorenzo Tañada, Neri Colmenares and Teddy Casiño;

Catholic bishops Broderick Pabillo, Deogracias Iñiguez, and Arturo Bastes; IFI Obispo Maximo Rhee Timbang, UCCP General Secretary Bp. Reuel Norman O. Marigza, NCCP General Secretary Rev. Fr. Rex Reyes, Benedictine nun Sr. Mary John Mananzan, La Salle Brother Jose Mari Jimenez;

Artists Mae Paner a.k.a. Juana Change, Monique Wilson and Audie Gemora; filmaker Joel Lamangan, singer Chikoy Pura, UP Chancellor Mike Tan, activist RC Constantino, Dr. Margarita Holmes, former National Museum curator John Silva, anti-crime crusader Tessy Ang See, consumer advocate Raul Segovia, economist Men Sta Ana, advertising guru Yoly Ong, former CHR commissioner Mercedes Contreras Danenberg, and former general Guillermo G. Cunanan.

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