Rights group pounds on BBM-Sara

Artemio Dumlao - The Philippine Star

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — This early, left-leaning rights group Karapatan is calling on the Filipino people “to reject the (Ferdinand) Marcos Jr.-Sara Duterte tandem.”

“The two represent the worst brand of traditional politics and governance in our nation’s history – one that promotes authoritarianism as a response to legitimate exercise of political dissent, upholds mendicancy to foreign interests over national sovereignty and uses an empty and fake rhetoric of unity to sugarcoat their incompetence to respond to social problems and their adherence to neoliberal policies that will further demean human dignity,” Kristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general said.

“As in previous years, Marcos Jr. has not only refused to publicly acknowledge the crimes of his father and his family’s role as direct beneficiaries of such crimes: he has whitewashed, even legitimized, the atrocities of his father’s dictatorship,” she continued.

“He and his family have refused to return all the looted public funds and assets they amassed for private gain during his father’s dictatorial rule, while Duterte gives them a free pass for these crimes, especially with his lackluster efforts to collect the Marcoses’ P203-billion tax liabilities and his recent statement denying the existence of the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth,” Palabay said.

“Marcos Jr. continues to spit on the graves and sufferings endured by all the martial law victims by feigning ignorance on the numerous documented atrocities of his father and his cabal of mass murderers and, worse, he has portrayed the victims of human rights violations as money-seeking opportunists – while all throughout his father’s reign, their megalomanic opportunism has been at the expense of numerous lives,” she added, insisting that a Marcos Jr. presidency is “committed to ensure Duterte’s protection from accountability for his bloody drug war, by his public expression of rejection of the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction on the investigation on these crimes.”

Palabay also blamed Marcos Jr. for his support of the NTF-ELCAC which, according to her, “has churned out countless lies against Duterte’s critics, on whose heads hang the Damocles sword of the anti-terror law.”

Karapatan believes “the palpable imprints of the Marcos dictatorship remain in the laws and decrees issued during the martial law regime and in the framework of counterinsurgency programs continued by the succeeding administrations. The infrastructure of impunity that pervaded during the Marcos years has not been fully dismantled – impunity has worsened because perpetrators of the worst crimes against the people, especially the Marcoses and their cohorts, have remained unpunished.”

The organization adds that while under Duterte, whose administration ends on June 30, “the human rights crisis has spiraled with extrajudicial killings, arrests and detention, forcible evacuation and other human rights violations, including violations on press freedom and freedom of association.”

Palabay also criticized presumptive vice president Sara Duterte for “(remaining) unapologetic in defending and in promising the continuation of her father’s policies. Both Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte vowed to continue Rodrigo Duterte’s neoliberal programs, including the Build, Build, Build projects which have driven higher foreign debts and an economy that is dependent on foreign investments and is unable to provide decent work for the people.”

Both Marcos Jr. and Duterte-Carpio, Karapatan believes, “(will) continue the Duterte administration’s lopsided relations with the US and China.”

Karapatan hinted of “a broad mass movement condemning the Marcos-Duterte tandem has emerged stronger during the election campaign period, despite numerous threats and red-tagging, and a gigantic disinformation machinery oiled by the Marcos ill-gotten wealth.”

Amnesty International expresses alarm

Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific deputy regional director Emerlynne Gil said “Marcos Jr. and Duterte’s past avoidance of discussing human rights violations in the Philippines is deeply concerning. During the campaign period, it seemed that they were deliberately refusing to take a position on past and present violations – including those committed under martial law in the 1970s and early 1980s, and in the context of the Rodrigo Duterte administration’s ‘war on drugs.’”
“If confirmed, the Marcos Jr. administration will face a wide array of urgent human rights challenges. The new government should make a dramatic course correction and move away from the past six years under Rodrigo Duterte, when authorities increased attacks against political opponents and human-rights defenders, cracked down on press freedom and oversaw widespread and systemic killings in the so-called war on drugs.”

Gil stressed, “The widespread arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture and extrajudicial killings that occurred in the martial law era and violations committed more recently during the Duterte administration must never be allowed to happen again.”

“Amnesty International will not waver in its commitment to call out human rights violations and bring perpetrators to account, including for violations committed in the past. It is only through a genuine commitment to justice, truth and accountability for such violations that the Philippines can move forward in building respect for the rule of law and human rights,” she added. – Rhodina Villanueva



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