Press Release
5 June 2020

Reference:
Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, ‪+639173162831‬
Karapatan Public Information Desk, ‪+639189790580

Karapatan: UN report on PH rights situation shows why anti-terror bill should be junked

Human rights watchdog Karapatan welcomed the “timely” release of the report of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN OHCHR) on the human rights situation in the Philippines, which came amid strong public backlash on the looming passage of the Anti-Terrorism Bill. Karapatan said that the UN report outlines the deteriorating state of human rights in the country — showing exactly why the proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill should be junked.

“The timely report is a damning indictment of the Duterte administration’s brutal and bloody human rights violations and attacks on the people, outlining in clear detail why a monstrous piece of legislation such as the Anti-Terrorism Bill should be junked as it poses serious and dangerous threats to the worsening human rights crisis and democratic backsliding in the country, especially in the face of a fascist dictatorship,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, in her report released yesterday, June 4, stated that the proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill, which is slated to repeal and replace the “already problematic” Human Security Act of 2007, “dilutes human rights safeguards, broadens the definition of terrorism and expands the period of detention without warrant from three to 14 days, extendable by another 10 days,” such that the vagueness of definitions in the bill “may violate the principle of legality.”

The report also outlined the dangerous impact of red-tagging on civic space in the Philippines and its intensification under the Duterte administration, particularly on how the public labelling and vilification of human rights defenders as “communist terrorists” or “sympathizers” have led to death threats, arrests, killings, enforced disappearances, police and military raids on offices of human rights organizations, and other forms of reprisals especially for organizations and groups seeking legal protection, such as the trumped-up perjury charge against the officers of Karapatan, Gabriela, and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines.

The Anti-Terrorism Bill, Palabay continued, “will not be used to address the historical problems that lie of the root of armed conflict, insurgency, and terrorism in the country, especially amid a looming crisis and public discontent caused by decades of government neglect and refusal to undertake genuine and progressive reforms.”

“We support the call of the UN OHCHR to drop all politically-motivated and trumped-up charges against human rights defenders and the reprisals being hurdled against us. As the report shows, Duterte and his lapdogs can and will weaponize laws for their own self-serving ends, and there is no question that the Anti-Terrorism Bill — with all its vague definitions that infringe on freedom of expression and other fundamental rights as well as its removal of necessary human rights safeguards against abuses by security forces — will only provide more bullets for this utak-pulbura regime to shoot down and silence dissent through more arrests on spurious and baseless charges, abductions and enforced disappearances, and brutal killings,” the Karapatan officer averred.

Karapatan emphasized that “it is imperative for the UN Human Rights Council to conduct an independent investigation, whether through a Commission on Inquiry or through the monitoring of the OHCHR, on the fast-deteriorating situation in the Philippines.” It cited the High Commissioner’s reiteration of the “need for independent, impartial, and effective investigations into the killings” and its readiness to “assist credible efforts towards accountability at the national and international level.”

“This report is a much-needed step towards holding the Duterte administration for its atrocities and crimes against the people. Passing the Anti-Terrorism Bill will only allow the president and his militarist henchmen to unleash unbridled State terrorism upon the people and commit more brutal forms of human rights violations with impunity. We call on all freedom-loving Filipinos to stand against the Anti-Terrorism Bill and to fight for people’s rights and civil liberties. We must resist Duterte’s efforts to railroad his fascist dictatorship at all costs,” she ended. ###

The statement released by the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights may be accessed through this link: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25924&LangID=E&fbclid=IwAR3wM9fxb024eevjMN41v-KWpGfz21TxR7tA1QP3BTffPfPt9-8DYXRWCv4

The Advance Edited Version of the Report of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights on the Situation of Human Rights in the Philippines may be accessed through this link: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/PH/Philippines-HRC44-AEV.pdf

———————————————————————
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
publicinfo@karapatan.org
———————————————————————

Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
Web: http://www.karapatan.org

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.