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Threats to go after legal, progressive organizations show Duterte’s contempt for people’s rights

January 28, 2018

QUEZON CITY – “Duterte’s nauseating hubris to target legal and progressive organizations which he brands as ‘enemies of the state’ shows his contempt for the exercise of the people’s basic right to freedom of expression, association and assembly, among other civil and political rights, and to any and all forms of opposition to his anti-people policies,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, in response to Duterte’s recent statement where he reiterated that he will go after so-called “legal fronts” of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

The Karapatan leader said “pea-brained fascists like him and his minions in the military and police, who made the very same threats and have employed numerous means to suppress these rights, are the very reasons why majority of the Filipino people strongly distrust government institutions.”

“Making no distinction between armed combatants and civilians gives state forces carte blanche to kill, arrest, threaten, and harass any one, including free speech advocates, unarmed activists, peasants, workers, indigenous peoples, church workers, among others. These tactics, used by the Marcos dictatorship and subsequent regimes such as that of Benigno Aquino III and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, are acts of desperation and paranoia,” Palabay said.

Karapatan has recorded 84 human rights defenders killed under the Duterte administration, many belonging to local peasant and indigenous organizations working towards advocacies on genuine land reform and defense of ancestral lands from big landlords and businesses. Since 2001, 697 human rights defenders have already been killed. Many more have been illegally arrested and detained.

Palabay also challenged Duterte in his assertions of illegal financial transactions. “We are not facing reports of undeclared P100 million in investments, nor are our immediate family members implicated in smuggling $125 million worth of drug shipment. We are not befriending plunderers like Marcos and making compromise deals with thieves. Unlike Duterte and politicians in the same rotten basket, we are not the ones lacking accountability,” she responded.

“Unlike the Duterte regime which has cowered to the dictates of US lackeys in his Cabinet and has shamelessly surrendered our sovereignty to US and China, progressive organizations have stood firm against State repression, fighting alongside the Filipino people throughout different administrations. The 126 victims of political killings and the thousands more killed in the course of the drug war, the many anti-people policies, compounded by the brazen submission of our territories justified by insulting the capacity of Filipino scientists are indications of the Duterte government’s ineffectivity and inutility,” concluded Palabay.

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