Karapatan dares gov’t not to thwart probe of rights violations in PH

“We echo the same challenge to the Duterte government and its rabid gang of militarists: If indeed human rights organizations are merely spouting lies to defame the government, then do not block efforts by the ICC (International Criminal Court) and United Nations Independent Experts to investigate these human rights violations that we have reported and exposed.”

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Human rights group Karapatan dared the government to welcome the initiatives of national and international groups to look into the reported human rights abuses in the Philippines. This after the Philippine government has formally asked the European Union (EU) to stop its funding of groups they accused as front organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) which include Karapatan.

“We echo the bold statement of this government, and hurl it right back at them. If you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear. We repeat our call for the Duterte government to welcome national and international investigations on alleged human rights violations in line with the war on drugs and the government’s counterinsurgency program,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said in a statement.

According to a news report, the government, through the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF), has formally requested the EU to halt funding organizations which includes Karapatan, Ibon Foundation, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, the Alliance of Health Workers, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Gabriela and Lumad schools such as Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc. and the Salugpungan Ta’tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center, Inc.

(BULATLAT FILE PHOTO) Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, presents the trends in the human rights situation under the Aquino administration in a press conference, Nov. 5. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea/ Bulatlat.com)

Open to address allegations

Unlike the government, Palabay said her group is open in addressing the allegations of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF) by asking for dialogues with the European Union and other governments.

She said they are confident that the more than two-decades of Karapatan’s human rights advocacy for the marginalized will refute the red-tagging schemes of the government.

They reiterated that the human rights violations they have raised are all “based on actual reports from communities, leaders, sectors, and human rights workers on the ground.”

It is clear, she said, why the government is very persistent in undermining their work and discrediting their organization. “We are being singled-out, harassed, and our work criminalized because of our advocacy to continuously expose human rights violations and initiate efforts and campaigns to hold the Philippine government accountable as the primary duty-bearer of human rights promotion and defense,” Palabay said.

But instead of addressing the issue, Palabay said, the Duterte government and the NTF only resorted to “maligning organizations that refuse to be mouthpieces of this government.”

“Their plan is to harass every critic, call them terrorists, communists and enemies of the State, incite violence against them, move to defund their organizations, and ultimately silence those who challenge their narrative,” Palabay added.

“We echo the same challenge to the Duterte government and its rabid gang of militarists: If indeed human rights organizations are merely spouting lies to defame the government, then do not block efforts by the ICC (International Criminal Court) and United Nations Independent Experts to investigate these human rights violations that we have reported and exposed.”

Silencing groups critical of Duterte administration

Progressive women’s group Gabriela also slammed the allegations against them.

“In an obviously concerted propaganda effort timed at the 50th anniversary of the NPA, the AFP has launched a media offensive by feeding the media with recycled ‘communist-terrorist’ accusations in various articles in print and online media. Reports from our members also indicated that they have put up tarpaulins with the false propaganda accusing Gabriela and other organizations as NPA fronts,” the group said in a statement.

They said this accusation is only meant to silence groups who are up in arms against neoliberal policies and what they called as “unabashed submission to the dictates of US and China.” But the group said no amount of vilification can stop them to provide services for women.

“Gabriela members in our chapters refuse to be at the mercy of circumstances where the government pushed them. Instead of being unproductive, they brainstorm projects that would provide livelihood to their families and the whole community,” they said.

“Gabriela facilitates the funding for these projects. Where the government has failed to provide, we offer alternatives. Foreign governments, especially in the EU, have seen their plight and believed in their capacity to overcome economic challenges and thus approved funds for their projects,” they added.

They urged the foreign government as well as the public to be critical and not to be easily persuaded by what they described as “fake news” being peddled by the Duterte government and the AFP.

Both Karapatan and Gabriela vowed to remain steadfast amid the intensifying vilification by the government.

“Despite the threats and continuous red-tagging, human rights defenders are here to stay and confront these desperate lies against us, unlike this cowardly government,” Palabay said.

She dared the Duterte government to issue official invitations to UN independent experts who have long-standing requests to visit the country, including UN Special Rapporteurs Agnes Callamard, Michel Forst and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz.

Karapatan also called on the EU and other governments to “review the funding that they give to the Philippine government and its arms deals with the AFP and the PNP, as these may be used to fund State terrorism and kill more Filipinos in line with Duterte’s war on drugs and counter-insurgency program.”

“We enjoin the Filipino people to demand accountability with regard to our taxes amid the corruption, ballooning debt, and human rights atrocities being committed by this regime,” Palabay added. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

 

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