On International Human Rights Day, students hit Duterte’s worsening record of human rights violations

“As the whole world commemorates International Human Rights Day, the Filipino youth is in rage because of the dire situation of human rights in the Philippines. From bad, the violations in our human rights, has gone to worse under the Duterte regime.”

This is the statement of League of Filipino Students (LFS) national spokesperson JP Rosos on the 68th International Human Rights Day.

“We’ve said it before. The hero’s burial given to the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos is Duterte’s endorsement to intensify the fascist attacks against the people. The burial did not only whitewash the atrocities committed by Marcos, it has also affirmed the continuation of the dark legacies of Marcos – grave violations in civil and political rights, extrajudicial killings, and military abuses,” said Rosos.

“In an almost day-to-day basis, President Duterte defends the violations of human rights and threatens to further repress the people. We have heard him justify the unending militarization of schools and communities, the violations of his troops in their own ceasefire, the continuing detention of political prisoners, and the summary and extrajudicial killings. We have listened to his threats to declare martial law, to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, to kill human rights defenders, and to revive the mercenary Philippine constabulary and Reserved Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC),” Rosos continued.

“Little by little, we can see a semblance to a Marcosian leader in President Duterte. He continues to disregard our human rights. It has to stop,” Rosos added.

Militarization in the countryside under Oplan Bayanihan
According to Rosos, Duterte has incessantly allowed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and its para-military troops to reign the countryside with terror. The youth leader noted that several reports were describing how the military repeatedly commit “horrendous acts of threats, intimidation, curfews, restrictions, interrogations, and other civil and political abuses.”

Citing the human rights network Karapatan, Rosos noted that as of October 2016 there have been about 2,119 threats, harassments, and intimidation; 12,979 cases of indiscriminate firing; 6,246 schools, churches, and other public places used for military operations; and 13, 734 forced evacuations due to heavy militarization in their communities.

“The Duterte regime reveals that it is no different from the previous regimes. Even amid the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the previously-signed agreement Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), Duterte continues to allow his troops to attack the people with impunity in the name of his war of suppression,” said Rosos.

Rosos noted that Duterte’s continuing implementation of the “anti-people and US-backed Oplan Bayanihan” means that he is willing to prolong the ardent fascist attacks against the people. The youth leader that with Oplan Bayanihan, Duterte remains reliant to military might to force the people do his unwanted demands.

“As it is, there is an undeclared Martial Law in different parts of the country. Just like how he glorifies Marcos, he venerates abuses and human rights violations,” Rosos added.

 Release All Political Prisoners
“Another Marcos’ legacy that Duterte continues to employ is the detention of political prisoners. Not only did Duterte reject the release of all political prisoners, he also allowed the continuing arrests of activists and human rights charged with trump-up cases,” said Rosos.

Rosos noted that the 432 political prisoners that the Duterte regime refused to unconditionally release suffer grave injustices. The youth leader pointed out that the continued detention is a violation of CARHRIHL and other previously-agreed arrangements with the NDFP. He added that the prolonged detention of political prisoners due to charges with unbailable criminal offenses such as murder and illegal possession of firearms and explosives also violates the Hernandez political offense doctrine.

“President Duterte does not own the political prisoners. He is in no position to treat them as cards that he can use for his game. It is clear as day that it is the government’s responsibility to release them unconditionally immediately. There should be no pre-conditions such as the signing of bilateral ceasefire. Justice demands that the political prisoners are freed from their jails,” said Rosos.

War against drugs
 “Duterte’s remorseless extra-judicial killings in his crusade against drugs is unacceptable. Death toll is already more than 5,000 where most of the affected are the poorest of our countrymen. Duterte has been using this campaign to sow fear among the people,” said Rosos.

Rosos pointed out that instead of rooting the drug problem in the country, Duterte has turned a blind eye in the deep socio-economic roots of the decade-old predicament. The youth leader condemned Duterte’s justication on his killing spree that undermines the holistic approach of resolving the issue.

“Duterte has placed the justice system in his own hands undermining due processes. He uses his drug-tagging to eliminate his enemies and to give more power to the mercenary PNP and AFP in abusing the people and violating their rights. He gang-leader-style of leadership is not acceptable especially if it continues to desecrate our civil liberties and human rights,” said Rosos.

“There is no reason to celebrate today’s International Human Rights Day. If anything else, it is the day to raise our unity and intensify our struggle. The human rights and civil liberties that we are having today is a product of the lives of our countrymen who fought for democracy and freedom. We will not allow anyone to step on it. We will persevere in our struggle and push for a new social system that respects human rights,” Rosos ended.  ###