The recent coordinated set of raids by police and the army in Negros Occidental and Metro Manila and the subsequent arrest of activists represents an escalation in the ongoing crackdown against progressive and groups identified as “leftist” by the government.
On 31 October 2019 police and military forces raided the offices of political party Bayan Muna, women’s alliance Gabriela, and labour group National Federal of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in Bacolod, Negros Occidental. On the same day, the home of two activists belonging to Gabriela and urban poor group Kadamay was raided by police in Manila. State forces continued the raids into the early hours of the following day.
In Bacolod City police and military forces conducted separate raids on the offices of Bayan Muna, Gabriela and NFSW, and arrested over 50 people, reportedly including some minors, accusing them of participating in explosives and firearms training. The government forces claim they seized firearms but arrested activists maintain that any weapons found during the raids were planted by security forces. The raiding forces, according to government sources, used a search warrant issued by a court that had found probable cause to believe that firearms and explosives were being stored in the organizations’ offices.
The latest crackdown against government critics and political activists comes amidst a climate of almost total impunity inside the country. Amnesty International calls on the authorities to fulfil their international obligation to respect and protect the right to freedom of association of peaceful groups and organisations in the Philippines, as well as their duty to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights of activists, including their rights to life and liberty, freedom of expression, and freedom of peaceful assembly. These rights are guaranteed, among other treaties, by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the Philippines is a state party, and by the Philippine Constitution.
Amnesty International urges the government to conduct a prompt, thorough, impartial and effective investigation into the groups’ allegations that weapons found on their premises were planted. The organisation also renews its calls to the Philippine government to investigate threats of violence against government critics, incitement to violence, as well as the violent attacks that have resulted from them; bring those responsible for such offences to justice in fair trials; and protect peaceful activists who are being accused of links to communist groups.
Read the full statement here.
Responding to news that President Rodrigo Duterte has instructed a newly promoted Bacolod City police executive to “kill everybody” because of the proliferation of illegal drugs there, Amnesty International Philippines renews call for the Philippine government to focus on probing police abuses.
Read the full statement here.
Responding to today’s resignation of Philippine National Police chief General Oscar Albayalde, Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia, said:
“General Albayalde’s resignation is the last blow to the credibility of the so-called ‘war on drugs’. The Philippines authorities must ensure that justice is done and that this lawless and murderous campaign ends now.
“President Duterte has said that due process of law will be afforded to Albayalde – the very rights that his government has denied to thousands of people suspected of using or selling drugs, who have been unlawfully killed by the police acting as judge, jury and executioner.
“This scandal shows that impunity is entrenched in the institutions supposed to uphold human rights and the rule of law. The authorities must urgently expand their probe into General Albayalde to cover the wide-ranging police abuses that continue up to this day.”
Read full statement here.
The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission recently added Senator Leila de Lima to the Defending Freedoms Project. Read full statement here.
Marinel Sumook Ubaldo from Samar, Philippines was 16 when she knew she had to fight to find a way to protect herself and her community from the disastrous effects of the climate crisis. She survived the deadly Typhoon Yolanda in 2013 to become a leading youth activist, dedicated to ensuring governments around the world confront the climate crisis and tackle its effects on her community, and others like them. This year’s Write for Rights (W4R), support Marinel by demanding support for climate change survivors.
Take Action Now:
2) Write a short solidarity note to Marinel (case sheet)
6) Share the W4R campaign webpage on Marinel Ubaldo to your friends and family.
September 3, 2019
Amnesty International expresses deep concern over threats against and the endangerment of two Filipino journalists, a priest, two human rights lawyers, and a government employee, including claims that they are affiliated with the Communist Party of the Philippines. As has happened in the past, “red-tagging” or branding individuals and organizations as “communist fronts” has become a means to endanger their lives, leaving them at risk of harassment and attacks by unknown individuals. The authorities must seriously investigate all threats against the two journalists and others who have been “red-tagged”; take proactive steps to protect the safety and other rights of journalists and others at risk; and ensure an environment that allows individuals to undertake their professions without fear of violence and other reprisals.
Read full statement here.
(From TIME.com, August 8, 2019)
“An American human rights volunteer is reportedly in critical condition after he was shot four times in the Philippines.
Brandon Lee, 37, was attacked outside his home in Ifugao province in the northern Philippines on Tuesday after he was called an “enemy of the state” on social media, reports the Guardian.
Lee suffered cardiac arrest during a surgery to remove a bullet lodged in his jaw.
Lee is a volunteer for Ifugao Peasant Movement (IPM), a farmers’ group that actively opposes a hydropower project and the military presence in the Cordillera region, according to the Guardian. In 2008, an IPM staff member was killed in a similar attack.
Lee and other IPM staff had were labeled “enemy of the state” in posters that were put up around the province.
Another rights group, the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance, where Lee also volunteers, blamed authorities for the attack.
“We hold accountable the state security forces that the Duterte administration has let loose in the Cordillera region,” the group said in a statement, according to the Guardian. The group also said that Lee had been receiving threats before the attack.”
Read the statement of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance here.
Amnesty International is deeply alarmed by the recent escalation of attacks against human rights defenders and activists in the Philippines. On 1 May, Archad Ayao, an investigator for the Philippine Commission on Human Rights, was shot dead in Cotabato City, southern Philippines, by a still unidentified gunman. On 22 April, human rights worker and local politician Bernardino Patigas was gunned down in Escalante City, Negros Occidental. Hours later, several of his colleagues — including Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay — received threatening text messages from an unknown person warning them that they are likewise targeted to be killed this year.
Read the full statement here.
Three years into the Philippine government’s “war on drugs,” extrajudicial executions at the hands of the police and their associates continue. The vast majority of those who have been targeted are poor and marginalised people. Amid constant incitement from the highest levels of government and rampant impunity, only one unlawful killing, that of a 17 year old, has resulted in the prosecution and conviction of police officers. The international community must push for an independent investigation to put an end to these crimes and provide justice and reparations for countless families and victims. Read the full report here.
On 22 April, Cristina Palabay of Philippines-based human rights alliance Karapatan received a text message from an unidentified person, sent to her personal number, warning her and several other individuals that they are targeted to be killed this year. Amid the threats against Palabay, on 30 May the Supreme Court directed the government to give access to information of Palabay and other human rights defenders in hope to protect their right to life, liberty and security. Take Action here.
Maria Ressa, human rights defender and executive editor of online news outlet Rappler, was arrested again on 29 March for allegedly violating the Philippines’ Anti-Dummy Law, which punishes Filipinos who allow their names or citizenship to be used to evade laws on the nationalization of certain rights, franchises or privileges. Ressa was released several hours later after posting bail of PhP90,000 (approx. USD1,700); this was the second time she has been arrested in a matter of weeks. Read the full report here. Take Action here.
Amnesty International remains deeply concerned by the continued detention of prisoner of conscience Senator Leila de Lima on politically motivated charges, based on unsubstantiated statements of people convicted for drug-related offenses. Amnesty International considers the targeting of Senator de Lima by the authorities as a blatant attempt to silence one of the most prominent critics of the violent ‘war on drugs’ and bar her from participating in public life. Read the report here. Take Action here.
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The Philippines Human Rights Commission has today created a beacon of hope for the victims of the climate crisis.
Amnesty International has today launched Write for Rights, the world’s biggest human rights campaign, which this year champions children’s rights and youth activists.
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Responding to the arrest warrant served to Maria Ressa at the Rappler offices today on charges of ‘cyber libel’, Amnesty International Philippines Section Director, Butch Olano, said: “Just days after the National Bureau of Investigation announced that it will indict Maria Ressa for cyber libel, a warrant for her arrest was served today. Amnesty International …
Responding to news that the Philippine Department of Justice has recommended ‘cyber libel’ charges against Maria Ressa, the editor of news outlet Rappler, together with one of its former reporters, Amnesty International’s Philippines Section Director, Butch Olano, said: “The latest harassment of Maria Ressa and her team comes as no surprise. Rappler’s fearless journalism has consistently …
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte today attacked critics of his deadly ‘war on drugs,’ telling human rights activists: “your concern is human rights, mine is human lives” and promising the continuation of a “relentless and chilling” campaign. In response, Rachel Chhoa Howard, Amnesty International’s Philippines Researcher, said: “Thousands of people in the Philippines have died as a …
Wikipedia enthusiasts from around the world are joining forces on 19 and 20 May 2018 to take part in a global edit-a-thon to shine a spotlight on extraordinary unsung women human rights defenders who have devoted their lives to fighting injustice. BRAVE:Edit, a collaboration between Amnesty International and Wikimedia (Wikipedia’s non-profit organization), will see hundreds …
Responding to the news that President Duterte has ordered the police to resume their role in supporting his administration’s so-called “war on drugs,” James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:
Reacting to the news that the Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte is again considering expanding the role of the police in his administration’s “war on drugs”, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said the following