Groups denounce continued attacks vs activists, 'drug war' killings under Marcos

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Groups denounce continued attacks vs activists, 'drug war' killings under Marcos
A man sweeps after protesters threw egg shells with red paint at an artwork depicting Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., US President Joe Biden and Philippine Vice President Sara Duterte at a protest to mark the 75th International Human Rights Day in Manila on December 10, 2023.
AFP / Earvin Perias

MANILA, Philippines — Human rights groups condemned Sunday the continued attacks against advocates and government critics and the killings related to the “war on drugs” under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. 

“The Philippines continues to be a killing ground for perceived political dissidents, community organizers, indigenous people, rights advocates, and alleged drug suspects,” the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) said in a statement released on the 75th commemoration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

ICHRP and local watchdog Karapatan stressed that the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), the police, and the military continue to operate as mechanisms to suppress dissent, derail development and humanitarian work, and violate the rights of Filipinos. 

According to Karapatan, there have been 87 alleged extrajudicial killings under Marcos’ counter-insurgency campaign since the start of his term in July 2022. 

The group has also documented 12 victims of enforced disappearances, 316 victims of illegal and arbitrary arrests, 22,391 victims of bombing, 33,769 victims of indiscriminate firing, 24,670 victims of forced evacuation, 552 victims of forced surrender, and 1,609,496 victimes of threats, harassment and intimidation, including red-tagging.

The rights groups also criticized the continued conduct of deadly drug raids that formed the blueprint of former President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs. According to the Dahas Project of the University of the Philippines Third World Studies Center, there have been 474 killings related to the “war on drugs” as of November 23. 

“[This] belies that regime’s claims that its version of the drug war is ‘bloodless,’” Karapatan said. 

ICHRP called on the Philippines to rejoin the International Criminal Court and allow it to conduct a probe into alleged crimes against humanity by the Duterte government. 

Lawmakers have filed resolutions urging the government to cooperate with The Hague-based court’s investigation, and Marcos said last month that his administration was studying the return of the Philippines to the ICC. 

Peace talks

The groups nonethless welcomed the decision to restart peace negotiations between the government and communist rebels after a six-year hiatus. Duterte terminated the talks in 2017.

“ICHRP urges the parties to move on and continue their previous work towards a Compressive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms to be able to address the roots of the armed conflict,” the rights coalition said. 

“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 IHL be upheld and that the root causes of the armed conflict be addressed. The GRP-NDFP peacetalks presents this opportunity for the majority of disadvantaged Filipinos,” Karapatan said. 

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