Groups and individuals at the tribunal raised the issues of alleged extrajudicial killings linked with the government’s anti-narcotics campaign and counterinsurgency program, detention and political persecution of dissenters and activists, rights abuses during the Marawi siege and imposition of martial law in Mindanao, and attacks on journalists.
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'People's tribunal' a venue to air grievances, rights group says
Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - September 19, 2018 - 11:06am

MANILA, Philippines — The government's dismissal of the International People's Tribunal as a "sham proceeding" undermines the efforts of people and groups testifying at the tribunal in Belgium, a rights group said.

A sultan from Marawi and the daughters of detained peace consultants were among the Filipinos who testified on the alleged rights violations of the Duterte administration before the International People's Tribunal, which was convened by IBON International and the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines along with other groups.

They raised the issues of alleged extrajudicial killings linked with the government’s anti-narcotics campaign and counterinsurgency program, detention and political persecution of dissenters and activists, rights abuses during the Marawi siege and imposition of martial law in Mindanao, and attacks on journalists.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday said the tribunal, currently in session in Brussels, Belgium, is not a cause for concern.

“That’s not the official proceeding. That’s a propaganda proceeding of the Left,” he said.

But rights group Karapatan maintained that the IPT is a “legitimate venue for redress and grievances.” 

According to a report on alternative media site Bulatlat.com, international tribunals have indicted abusive administrations in the past, starting with ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1980.

A people's tribunal in the Hague, Netherlands indicted the Arroyo administration "for human rights violations, economic plunder, and transgression of Philippine sovereignty."  A people's tribunal in Washington, DC also indicted President Benigno Aquino III, with US President Barrack Obama, for "crimes against the Filipino people" in 2015.

'IPT formed by need to acknowledge rights violations'

“Its formation was brought about by the need to acknowledge rights violations that are ignored and treated with impunity in the country. With the thousands victimized by this regime through its anti-people policies, foremost its counterinsurgency drive and anti-narcotics campaign, the outcome should be a resounding guilty,” Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said.

According to the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, which endorsed the event, organizations convening the tribunal include the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, International Association of Democratic Lawyers.

Duterte’s ‘culpability’

Palabay said that there is “overwhelming evidence” of the president’s culpability.

“We have testimonies of victims and their families. We have living, breathing proof of Duterte’s crimes—people who have lived through harrowing experiences of torture, political persecution and families of those who were killed and disappeared,” Palabay said.

The court’s verdict will be submitted to the European Parliament and the United Nations Human Rights Council and International Criminal Court, which is conducting a preliminary examination into the government's bloody war on drugs. 

“The Duterte government can dismiss the IPT and the ICC all they want but it will not stop us from speaking truth to power,” Palabay said.

INTERNATIONAL PEOPLE’S TRIBUNAL RODRIGO DUTERTE
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