Be critical and vigilant

05:02 AM December 11, 2017

In marking Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day yesterday, we decry the continuing deterioration of human rights in our country.

On top of the premeditated killings by police officers of defenseless youth Kian delos Santos, 17; Carlo Angelo Arnaiz, 19; and Reynaldo “Kulot” de Guzman, 14; the recent killings of Catholic priest Fr. Marcelito Paez in Nueva Ecija; Pastor Lovelito Quinoñes in Mindoro Oriental; and human rights activist Elisa Badayos in Negros Oriental signal a new and wider wave of killings and human rights violations.


Such killings come on the heels of President Duterte’s closing the door on the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and his admonition to state security forces to shoot and kill suspected armed rebels. We are alarmed that just as “Project Tokhang” saw thousands of alleged drug users or peddlers mowed down based on mere suspicion and spurious claims of “nanlaban,” the President’s new order can
also give state forces the license to kill unarmed civilians conveniently labeled as “rebels.”

The President’s threat to crack down on activists, critics and all those whom he imagines are conspiring to topple his administration has a chilling effect on the public and impinges on our people’s exercise of their political rights and civil liberties.


The continuing efforts to undermine the system of checks and balances in government—the impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, the threat to impeach Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, the bullying of the Commission on Human Rights and the continued detention of Sen. Leila de Lima—
are equally worrisome. More so
efforts of the President and his supporters to threaten and intimidate members of the media.

And yet the biggest threat to human rights today is President Duterte’s moves toward authoritarian rule whether through charter change ostensibly to shift to a federal system of government, or an outright power grab through a so-called “revolutionary government.”

We call on our people to be critical and ever vigilant. Let us resist the erosion of our basic human and democratic rights. Let us unite in fighting tyranny and dictatorship.

(signed by current and former legislators, lawyers, religious leaders, artists and media, members of the academe, leaders of NGOs and people’s organizations and concerned citizens), [email protected]

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