On Human Rights Day, rights group assails zero justice for killings, rights violations under Marcos Jr.

Photo by Carlo Manalansan / Bulatlat


MANILA – Human rights group Karapatan assailed the rising number of killings under Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as they marked today’s commemoration of the International Human Rights Day with a protest action in Manila.

Karapatan has recorded at least 17 cases of extrajudicial killings under the Marcos Jr. administration, the most recent being the killing of peace consultant Ericson Acosta and peasant organizer Joseph Jimenez in Negros.

The Third World Studies Center’s Dahas project has also documented at least 150 drug-related killings in the first five months of the Marcos Jr. administration.

“Despite these sordid figures, there has been zero justice for the victims of extrajudicial killings. The culture of impunity continues to rear its ugly head,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.

Nothing from supposed case reviews

Karapatan said that the supposed “review” of cases of politically-motivated extrajudicial killings and the drug war review panel both have “paltry results to show.”

“The Philippine government’s tall tales were belied through the numerous views and recommendations by various governments during the recent Universal Periodic Review, especially on the lack of accountability by state forces and actors,” Palabay said.

Read: What is Universal Periodic Review and why citizens must participate in it

Read: Kin of rights abuses belie claims of justice secretary at the UPR

In the last cycle of the UPR, at least 35 countries called on the Philippine government to put a stop to extrajudicial killings and exact accountability on the perpetrators, particularly state security forces.

There were also 38 countries who called on the Philippines to protect human rights and indigenous defenders, lawyers and judges, environmentalists, and journalists.

The UPR said this “clearly indicates that the world knows the real situation despite lies, empty rhetoric and distortion of facts by the Philippine government delegation.”

Arrests, displacements

Palabay said the government’s counterinsurgency program has only led to arrests and internal displacements in many rural communities.

“Close to 10,000 civilians have been forcibly evacuated from their villages, and their lives and livelihoods disrupted due to relentless military operations in the countryside, according to initial reports reaching Karapatan,” she said.

Karapatan also documented over 3,000 individuals who survived indiscriminate firing by soldiers during their operations.

Meanwhile, the environmental group Kalikasan criticized the heightened attacks on communities resisting the plunder of their environment, resulting in the criminalizing of dissent and the jailing of environmental defenders through trumped-up cases.

“The effect of this, combined with a culture of violence and fear that has struck deep roots since the widespread and bloody extrajudicial killings under former President Rodrigo Duterte, shatters the capacity of communities to stand up for their right to a clean environment,” said Kalikasan in their statement commemorating International Human Rights Day.

Karapatan said that as of Nov. 30, there are over 828 political prisoners, 96 of them sickly and 77 of them elderly.

Palabay also pointed out that 25 of the political prisoners were arrested under Marcos Jr.

Economic rights too

Palabay said that the widespread human rights violations continue amid rising costs of basic commodities, decreased value of wages, and landlessness, to name a few.

“The attempts to use public and pension funds for the Maharlika sovereign fund are certainly shameless, while the P203 billion estate tax liability of the Marcoses remains unpaid and billions have yet to be returned by the thieving Marcos family,” Palabay said.

Read: Market vendors decry increasing prices

Read: The poor cuts down on staples as price hikes continue

Yesterday, women’s group Gabriela held an empty pot protest in Quezon City to sound the alarm on the eight-percent inflation rate, saying this is the worst and the highest since 2008.

“We are alarmed that Marcos Jr. is seemingly unaware, dead, and blind (on the issue) just to make it appear that he is complacent that there will be no recession due to the supposed low unemployment rate. But the people have had enough with the rising prices of staples and how they could no longer afford to eat three times a day,” said Maritess Arboleda, a community leader from Quezon City.

Ibon Foundation earlier said that the nearly half-million drop in employment in October 2022 from September 2022 belies the government’s claims of an upbeat jobs situation.

“The Marcos Jr administration is overstating recovery and downplaying the jobs crisis to avoid helping millions of struggling Filipinos with urgent and much-needed wage hikes, cash assistance, and subsidies,” Ibon said.

Fighting back

Despite the attacks, human rights defenders here remain steadfast in their resolve to fight back.

This week, the Supreme Court has granted the writs of amparo to two missing women activists, Ma. Elena Pampoza and Elgene Mungcal, who were abducted last July 3.

Read: Court grants protection plea for 2 missing activists in Tarlac

“(While they) have recently been granted writs of amparo but it remains to be seen whether the military establishment will actually be held accountable for their involuntary disappearance,” said Palabay.

She added that the Marcos Jr. administration uses the terror law to suppress dissent, red tag, and threaten the freedom of expression, press freedom, and association.

Karapatan said that “the Filipino people will resolutely fight to hold the government accountable for the trampling of their civil and political rights and will uphold human rights and democratic aspirations, even as multiple challenges and threats continue.” (RVO) (https://www.bulatlat.org)

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