Change made a turn for the worse in the two years of the Duterte presidency.
Under Duterte’s rule remains a large army of unemployed and contractual workers paid with a pittance of wages, a people burdened with additional taxes and higher prices of goods and services, millions of peasants displaced by foreign and domestic big businesses and landlords, indigenous people who lost their land from mining companies, and urban and rural poor communities dislocated by his Build, Build, Build programs.
Complementing Duterte’s disastrous economic programs is an avalanche of anti-poor and brutal policies. Suspected drug users and peddlers, and youth and children, not in any way connected to the illegal drug trade were among the more than 20,000 killed in Duterte’s drug war. So-called “tambays” or citizens in the streets are increasingly vulnerable to arrests, detention and extortion of the police, in the course of the implementation of the anti-tambay directives; more than 20,000 have reportedly been arrested.
Duterte’s policies, allegedly to promote peace and order, are turning the country into one police state. On June 29, at around 10 p.m., urban poor activist Nicolas Minguito, a member of Anakbayan Lapu-Lapu City chapter in Cebu, was arrested by three police officers in Brgy. Sabang, Olango Island. Minguito was eating halo-halo outside their house, when he was forcibly taken without a warrant. He is currently detained at Talima Police Station for still unknown charges.
Duterte’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan and martial law in Mindanao have claimed the lives of 163 peasants and indigenous people (Karapatan initial data from July 2016 to June 30, 2018), while 351 individuals are victims of frustrated killings. Nearly two thousand have been illegally arrested, and at least 200 are still detained on fabricated, absurd and baseless criminal charges, bringing the number of political prisoners to 503.
No one has been punished for these crimes. Instead, police and military officers rabidly supporting and implementing Duterte’s policies have been promoted and glorified.
As actively as Duterte exonerates murderers and other human rights violators with impunity, he also shamelessly promotes sexism to the hilt, thereby worsening the patriarchal constructs in society that oppress and exploit women.
Nearly half a million Filipinos have forcibly evacuated from their homes due to military bombings and ground operations in communities. Marawi City is still in ruins, while residents are left in the dark on the government’s rehabilitation plans.
Recently, on May 29, 2018, 42 Subanen families (or 230 residents including children) evacuated from their homes in Purok 2 Sentro, Brgy. Saad, Dumingag, Zamboanga del Sur due to combat operations of the 1st Infantry Battalion of the Philippines Army.
On June 10, 2018, soldiers from the 33rd Infantry Battalion led by Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, 61st Division Reconnaissance Company led by 1Lt. Ruel Fortuna, and the Philippine National Police’s Fourth Special Action Battalion led by Supt. Darwin Padla conducted aerial bombings and ground combat operations in Brgy. Dalgan, Pagalungan, Maguindanao. These operations have resulted in the evacuation of 286 families (1,716 individuals).
Human rights defenders and church workers are killed and assaulted by the Duterte regime. At least 107 human rights defenders have been killed under Duterte, including Karapatan Negros coordinator Elisa Badayos and Fr. Marcelito Paez of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines. They are tagged as “enemies of the state” or “terrorists” using the Human Security Act, and have been under constant threat and harassment. Recently, two priests of the Iglesia Filipino Independiente, Fr. Randy Manicap Sr. and Fr. Arvin Mangrubang, received death threats and experienced military surveillance and harassment.
Repressive immigration laws and policies have also been used against foreign missionaries and rights advocates such as Sr. Patricia Fox (Australia), Adam Shaw (US), Tawanda Chandiwana (Zimbabwe), and Miracle Osman (Malawi) in an attempt to deter them from undertaking their social justice work for Filipino peasants and indigenous people.
The Duterte regime attempts to deceive the public into believing it pursues peace. But its all-out war and war on terror campaign, its relentless efforts to sabotage peace processes, and the non-adherence to previously signed agreements all expose Duterte’s disinterest in a just and lasting peace.
Unequal military and economic partnerships and agreements with the US and China sums up Duterte’s actions that subvert the country’s sovereignty. The Filipino people are at a disadvantage while he does the bidding of these powers in the Asia Pacific region.
The kind of change that the Duterte regime promotes is definitely one that is spiralling into a human and people’s rights catastrophe, one that ensures the rule of a thuggish dictator and the preservation of an oppressive social structure. The people’s only choice for genuine change is to fight back.
Deputy Secretary General
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
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
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.