“The testimonies of the victims and their communities, as well as their steadfast commitment to fight for justice are enough bases to overcome the lies of this administration.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – “Stop whining and address the issue,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay told the government after it once again tagged the group as front organization of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
According to a report, the Duterte government sent a delegation to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland to formally file a complaint against the alleged atrocities and human rights abuses committed by the NPA.
In the complaint, the government tagged the human rights group Karapatan, church group Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, think-tank Ibon Foundation, and the Mindanao Interfaith Service Foundation, Inc. as front organizations of the CPP-NPA-NDFP.
Palabay reminded the Duterte government that the “State is the primary duty-bearer in the promotion, protection and advancement of human rights.”
“You might have already forgotten [the government’s responsibility],” she added.
The United Nations is another arena where cases of human rights violations are filed by groups or individuals after it has exhausted all legal remedies available in the country. Karapatan, as well as other cause oriented groups, has filed several complaints of human rights violations committed by the State to the UN body including the killing of campus journalist Benjaline “Beng” Hernandez.
The government also formally moved for the delisting of 625 cases of enforced disappearances that took place from 1975 to 2012 with the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearance (UN WGEID).
Palabay said such moves made by the government were a “desperate move to deodorize its notorious human rights record and to evade accountability for its crimes and tyrannical acts.”
“Together with other human rights and civil society organizations, and even international human rights experts and UN officials, we have been repeatedly maligned in the government’s vicious terrorist-labeling campaign and have faced reprisals due to our work exposing State-perpetrated human rights violations and demanding for justice and accountability,” said Palabay.
Palabay also added that the government has constantly rejected calls for independent investigations by human rights experts and “has barely responded substantially to communications sent by UN offices regarding cases of rights violations.”
“Through a national task force composed of militarists and mercenary hacks, it is promoting a most unbelievable lie – that government is correct and everyone else is wrong. What is however apparent is its elaborative effort to hide the injustices apparent in the country,” Palabay said.
Palabay also said that red tagging organizations, as well as journalists, who are exposing issues such as human rights violations committed by the state “will not erase the atrocious crimes already committed and are continuously being committed by state security forces.”
Karapatan and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines including lawyers, bishops, priests and Mindanao-based journalists were also listed as front organizations of the CPP-NPA-NDFP. The list was being circulated in Cagayan De Oro in Mindanao.
Palabay reiterated the dangers of being tagged as members of CPP-NPA-NDFP like being vulnerable to attacks such as “killing, criminalization of their work and beliefs and illegal detention, torture and other violations of the people’s right to uphold and defend rights, to form organizations and to conduct human rights work.”
She also criticized the “audacity of the Philippine government in shamelessly claiming efforts of civil society and human rights organizations, passing it off as their sincere effort to advance and protect human rights, while altogether dismissing the deteriorating rights situation and outrightly denying recognition of the victims.”