Civil libertarians launch Movement vs Duterte’s ‘acts of tyranny’

Voltaire Tupaz

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Civil libertarians launch Movement vs Duterte’s ‘acts of tyranny’
Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) leaders urge the public to speak out and act against extrajudicial killings and other acts of tyranny under the Duterte administration

MANILA, Philippines – The Left has drawn battle lines against the Duterte administration.

It launched a movement against the government’s alleged “acts of tyranny” on Monday, August 28, in the wake of the killing of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos.

“The basis for having an alliance with the Left has been eroded away,” Carol Araullo, chairperson of the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), said on the sidelines of the launching of the Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) at the Maryhill School of Theology in Quezon City.

Araullo noted that the pivotal moment took place during the President’s second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 24, when he announced his decision to “stop talking” with communist rebels. After the SONA, Duterte faced thousands of protesters, ignoring militant leaders who welcomed him on his way up the stage.

The militant protesters were then calling for the resumption of the stalled peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF). They also opposed the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, warning that it would pave the way for the violation of rights of Muslims and indigenous peoples.

“The Duterte administration is completely unmoved. We took the step of helping to spearhead this movement in order to tell Mr Duterte that the time has come. There has to be reckoning,” Araullo said.

Broad alliance vs killings

In what could be a gathering storm, various sectors and prominent human rights advocates like former senator Rene Saguisag, former representative Erin Tañada, University of the Philippines Chancellor Michael Tan, Vergel Santos of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, Bishop Broderick Pabillo, and Sister Mary John Mananzan have joined the movement. It is the broadest anti-Duterte alliance that has been formed to date.

Mananzan said that the state of human rights under the Duterte administration is worse than the martial law period under the Marcos regime, which she had also opposed as a young nun until the dictator was ousted.

“Under Marcos’ Martial Law, killings were not carried out on a daily basis. Now, it’s almost every day. The police act as judges and executioners,” she said.

More than 3,000 were killed during that dark period of the country, according to Amnesty International (AI).

In a manifesto titled, “Stop the killings, stand against tyranny,” convenors of the Movement Against Tyranny accused Duterte of enabling police and death squads “in a brutal and murderous ‘war on drugs’ that has victimized thousands of mostly poor, small-time drug users and pushers.”

Various reports by media and rights groups have put the number of drug-related deaths at around 10,000 to date.

Speak out and take action

The newly-formed group of civil libertarians also hit Duterte for “pressuring into submission” the Supreme Court, the Ombudsman, and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

CHR chairperson Chito Gascon, who attended the gathering, delivered a strong-worded speech, urging the public to speak out and take action, and vowed to help in documenting cases of rights violations.

Santos, CMFR Board of Trustees chairperson, meanwhile read the part of the manifesto that decries the harassment of media.

“We resist efforts to silence the mass media and public opinion. We oppose moves to dismantle the system of check and balances that are intended to prevent the return of dictatorship,” Santos said.

The group ended the gathering by tearing down the presidential seal showing President Duterte’s signature clenched fist to reveal the movement’s logo.

They chanted, “Makibaka! Huwag matakot! (Take action. Don’t be afraid),” raising their clenched fists as they look forward to holding a massive protest action on September 21, the 45th anniversary of Marcos’ declaration of Martial Law. –

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