By JONAS ALPASAN
MANILA — Filipino progressives marched in the streets of Manila, Dec. 10, assailing the failure of the Philippine government to comply with its obligation under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
The UDHR was signed and adopted by member states of the United Nations 75 years ago today. The Philippine government is a state party to the landmark agreement.
“Despite Marcos Jr.’s cultivated facade, the sordid figures on rights violations prove that he is his dictator-father’s son and his regime, a continuation of that of his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.
Human rights defenders led today’s program at Liwasan Bonifacio in Manila, and later marched to the foot of the historic Chino Roces (formerly) Mendiola bridge.
They brought with them “Cards of Terror,” where three big playing cards were painted with portraits of the “king and queen of terror” namely, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Sara Duterte, and US President Joe Biden. Protesters later threw red paint on the mural during the Mendiola program.
As it stands, Karapatan has documented 12 victims of enforced disappearancea and 316 who were illegally arrested. There are also thousands of victims of bombing, indiscriminate firing, forced surrenders, and threats, including red-tagging.
Among those behind bars include 17 peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
“Terror laws are used in full swing to suppress dissent and to derail development and humanitarian work. The wrongful designation of peace consultants and negotiators, as well as community and indigenous peoples’ leaders, and baseless charges against human rights defenders have exposed the weaponization of these laws to violate the people’s constitutional rights,” Palabay said.
A continuation of Duterte rule
Despite the reported riff between the Marcoses and the Dutertes, human rights group Karapatan said drug-war related killings continue under the present administration.
Citing data from the Dahas Project, an initiative of the Third World Studies Program of the University of the Philippines, Karapatan said at least 474 have been killed under the continuing “drug war.”
“As we hold them to account for these crimes, we support calls of victims of the drug war and their families for the International Criminal Court to pursue investigations on Duterte and his cabal, in the face of utter failure of domestic redress mechanism to render justice to the victims,” said Palabay.
The group said the same policies, too, are in place in implementing the so-called whole-of-nation approach to crush the revolutionary movement but did not address the roots of the armed conflict.
Palabay said the both the Duterte and Marcos Jr. administrations showed the same “intolerance for dissent and the use of militarist frameworks to suppress people’s resistance to oppression.”
Resume peace talks
Progressives also called for the resumption of peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, following their recently signed joint statement where both parties agreed to address the roots of the armed conflict.
“While we fight for justice, we renew our commitment to the struggle for a just and lasting peace by insisting that previous agreements on human rights and IHP be upheld and that the root causes of the armed conflict be addressed,” Palabay said.
Speaking during the program, Jonila Castro, one of the two activists who were abducted and later surfaced by state agents, said the human rights abuses and attacks that rights defenders have been put up with, “teach them how to exact accountability.”