Philippines: progressive groups to President Duterte: Stop human rights abuses!

Groups belonging to the progressive social movement in the Philippines commemorate the International Human Rights Day with protests to denounce human rights abuses under the Duterte administration.

In commemoration of the International Human Rights Day, groups belonging to the progressive social movement took to the streets to denounce the growing number of human rights violations under the Duterte administration.

TWHA partners Council for Health and Development, Gabriela, Advocates for Community Health and Ibon Foundation joined thousands of protesters in calling out President Duterte to stop rights abuses under his brutal war on drugs and the continuing militarization of peasant and indigenous communities under the counter-insurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan.

In the historic street of Mendiola, the protesters burned a giant effigy of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, whom Duterte recently allowed to be buried at the national heroes’ cemetery despite widespread opposition. The effigy depicted the political rehabilitation of the Marcoses, the authoritarian tendency of the Duterte administration, the extrajudicial killings, continued detention of political prisoners, and continuing military operations through Oplan Bayanihan.

“Digong (Duterte’s nickname), tama na!” resonated on the streets as protesters demanded Duterte to stop the madness of his war on drugs which has killed close to 6,000 people, his attempt to rehabilitate Marcos dictatorship and the continuing militarization of peasant and indigenous communities.

They called on Duterte to instead seriously work for peace and to respect human rights as they asserted that a just and lasting peace is only possible when human rights issues are properly addressed.

The progressive social movement has asserted that they still support the President’s pronouncements for an independent foreign policy, the assertion of sovereignty, the resumption of peace talks and implementation of policies beneficial to the people such as land reform and the improvement of social services. But it will never back down against actions of the President that are inimical to the interest of the people, especially the poor, such as the threat of the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the imposition of martial law, and the attempt to re-legislate the death penalty.

They also called on the President to make good on his pledge to free all political prisoners. They said that the government should not use the release of the political prisoners as a precondition for the peace negotiations to continue.

Political prisoners must not be used as trump cards in the peace negotiations. Their immediate release will only render partial justice considering political prisoners have suffered unjust arrest and detention, torture and other rights violations, including inhumane treatment in jail, because of their defense of people’s rights,” said human rights group Karapatan in a statement.