April 20, 2018. QUEZON CITY—Members of human rights movement IDEFEND decried the worsening human rights situation and the continuing threats to Philippine democracy.
“Philippine Democracy is in Danger” declared IDEFEND in the wake of more recent events like the deportation of Giacomo Fillbeck, of the Party of European Socialists, the detention of Australian nun Sister Patricia Fox, and the continuing threats to judicial independence.
“Verbal assault of Duterte against international personalities and institutions have now moved to actual reprisals,” according to IDEFEND spokesperson Ellecer Carlos.
“These latest developments form part of a larger pattern, an apparatus to thwart opposition and silence dissent to his authoritarian rule,” asserted Carlos.
“The Duterte Government wants us to be satisfied with the killings, broken promises, and misogyny,” said Wilnor Papa of Amnesty International. On the deportation and detention of foreigners critical of the administration, Papa added that “It’s not just an issue of foreigners being involved in politics but the shrinking democratic space.”
“Rather than addressing the concerns, the government just like a bully, resorts to threats,” added Papa.
Rose Trajano of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), says the repression is happening everyday. “A build, build, build for an authoritarian state” is how Trajano described the situation, alluding to the Duterte administration's banner infrastructure program.
“It started early on in his presidency: The declaration of ML (martial law) in Mindanao, the assaults in the justice system, the control over legislators, the repressive bills and laws that have been passed—like giving subpoena powers to the Chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), the electronic surveillance of foreign entities, the National ID system among others— and also the tagging of 600 people including the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, as terrorists, and the continued harassment of media and journalists,” said Trajano.
Reflecting on the case of Sr. Patricia Fox, Judy Pasimio of Lilak, Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights said, "Sister Pat was with us many years ago in the campaign against mining in Aurora. 27 years, and yet the conditions of indigenous peoples and farmers remain the same and corporations still rule."
Pasimio asked, "Who is the real threat to sovereignty? A 71-year old Australian nun fighting mining and pushing for human rights, or an Australian mining company such as Oceania Gold, ravaging the natural resources and acting like the government in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya?"
"Who is the one pushing for the entry of more corporations here? Especially with the proposed Charter Change which will open our economy to 100 percent foreign control and ownership of our land and natural resources?"
"Duterte is the real threat to sovereignty. Sovereignty doesn’t lie with Duterte but with the people" concluded Pasimio.
In the wake of recent statements made by President Duterte himself threatening deportation of foreigners critical of the government, IDEFEND called on the public to embrace solidarity, instead of human rights violations, dictatorship and tyranny; and it called on the public and the international community to protect human rights, defend democracy, and resist the return of another authoritarian regime.
Photo: Ellecer Carlos, IDEFEND spokesperson stressing a point during the press conference on Democracy in Danger held in Quezon City. 20 April 2018. Photo by J. Purugganan