Karapatan hits Duterte’s looming crackdown of progressive groups, trumped up charges vs activists

“In the mind of fascists like Duterte, any and all forms of just and legitimate opposition to his anti-people policies are all spun like the wildest conspiracy theories. His threat to crack down on Bayan and other progressive groups, with the twisted logic that they are an anathema to development and are conspiring with the Communist Party of the Philippines, is a tired and unoriginal repetition of the same plot weaved by known fascists like Marcos. Using the same pretext and adapting tricks from the same playbook of fascists, such moves will possibly be appropriated to justify nationwide martial law and intensified repression against the Filipino people,” stated Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay in reaction to Duterte’s statement last Saturday, November 18.

Karapatan said that all this is unsurprising, especially after US President Donald Trump’s visit, Duterte is now shamelessly parroting US declarations and is even planning to list the New People’s Army as a terrorist group. “Duterte’s cozy relationship with the US and his contempt for just and lasting peace drive such statements, for he very well knows that issues concerning international humanitarian law can be addressed in peace process. As Duterte cements his ‘friendship’ with the US, he has also openly declared himself a puppet who favors militarism and interventionist policies,” Palabay said.

The Karapatan leader said that “progressive groups like Bayan have long fought for the basic political and economic rights of the people. Protests and dissent are in fact helpful in pushing for reforms and changes in Philippine society.” She added that “Duterte himself is to be blamed for the economic programs that further increase unemployment and under-employment, and landlessness of farmers; He is to blame for his war on drugs, a program that diminishes human dignity and disregards the social and economic causes of the illegal drug trade. Ultimately, it is his policies and the over-all direction of his regime that further justify the need for protest and resistance.”

Duterte also said on Saturday that he won’t recognize the offense of rebellion in charging alleged members of the NPA. Instead, criminal charges, which are not bailable, will be filed against them.

“Duterte and all the previous administrations have long been in the business of filing trumped up criminal charges against those whom they allege as armed rebels. However, all they have accomplished is the unjust arrest and detention of activists and ordinary folks who have been subjected to torture and other forms of violations on their right to due process and to a fair trial. This is the reason why almost 98% of political prisoners are charged with common crimes,” Palabay commented.

Karapatan cited the October 19 illegal arrest and detention of Jeremy Ang, a senior consultant of a non-government organization Assert Socio Economic Initiatives Network of the Philippines (Ascent) and his staff Rita C. Espinoza in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental by elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP). Ascent is a non-government organization advocating for the defense of socio-economic initiatives of the people. Ascent and its network of NGOs have pushed with their advocacy amid the series of attacks against their work by alleged state security forces.

“The same trumped up charges against Ang were brought against Lumad farmers Joshua, Randy and Jonathan Guyo, all members of the NAMASUN-Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in Caraga region. Jonathan is also a Karapatan paralegal. The Duterte government rehashes absurd criminal charges against persons whom the state considers its enemies. Especially with the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA), the crackdown on leaders and members of legal progressive organizations is only bound to intensify,” Palabay concluded.

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580

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AscentPH is a national alliance of development organizations determinedly working for the empowerment of the people through poverty alleviation and promoting and defending the right to development and other fundamental human rights and freedoms.

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