On December 10th, International Human Rights Day — the mere concept of human rights remains a point of contention in the Philippines. Between December 7 and 10, the government of the Philippines Department of Justice held a Summit on Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines, including in the program points on the Anti-Terror Law, children in armed conflict, and protection of rights on social media among other topics. To open the Summit, President Rodrigo Duterte claimed that human rights are a high priority for the Philippines, given the human rights treaties the country has joined.
This recent attempt of the Duterte regime to posture in concern of human rights is a sham. Duterte’s human rights record speaks for itself — one need not delve deep into the regime’s record to see widespread criticism of it’s brutality, killings, and attacks against the Filipino people.
Even in the weeks leading up to the Philippine government’s Human Rights Summit, two NDFP consultants protected under international humanitarian law were killed; the daughter of Philippine Representative Eufemia Cullamat, a medic in the New People’s Army, was killed and her body desecrated and used as war trophy, again violated humanitarian law. Then, on December 2nd, Amanda Echanis, surviving daughter of recently killed NDFP consultant Randy Echanis, was arrested along with her newborn baby. Today, on International Human Rights Day, the Philippine National Police conducted multiple raise across Manila to arrest 6 unionists and a journalist: Dennise Velasco, Rodrigo Esparago, Romina Astudillo, Mark Ryan Cruz, Joel Demate and Jaymie Gregorio Jr., and Lady Ann Salem.
The Philippine government, whose longstanding and most recent human rights violations demonstrate their attack on people’s efforts to build genuine peace, has no credibility to hold genuine discussion on human rights. The situation requires independent investigation, and we applaud the global people’s initiative to do just that in holding an International Independent Commission On Investigation into Human Rights Violations in the Philippines. Further, we call upon concerned peoples in United States to respond and build international solidarity with the Filipino people against growing tyranny and fascism.