End Duterte ‘war’ on rights defenders, watchdogs say

Rambo Talabong
End Duterte ‘war’ on rights defenders, watchdogs say
'Alongside his infamous ‘war on drugs’, President Duterte has declared open season on human rights defenders in the Philippines,' says the International Federation for Human Rights

MANILA, Philippines – The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) on Thursday, February 28, called for the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s supposed “war on human rights defenders.”

“Alongside his infamous ‘war on drugs’, President Duterte has declared open season on human rights defenders in the Philippines. It’s time for the international community to press Duterte to end his war on human rights defenders and ensure accountability for all attacks against them,” said FIDH Secretary-General Debbie Stothard.

OMCT Secretary-General Gerald Staberock, meanwhile, said: “President Duterte’s violent rhetoric has created a climate in which attacks against human rights defenders are acceptable and perpetrators are never punished.”

Their remarks come as the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint project of the FIDH and the OMCT, found in its newest report on the Philippines that the government has “taken measures that have actively contributed to an increasingly hostile environment for human rights defenders.”

By the count of the OMCT, there have been at least 76 land and environmental rights defenders and 12 journalists killed ever since President Duterte assumed office.

The OMCT outlined instances when the Duterte administration neglected upholding human rights particularly on the threats against activists, journalists, human rights agents, opposition lawmakers, and United Nations human rights experts. (READ: Culture of Impunity: Protecting human rights groups vs threats)

“President Duterte has demonstrated utter disregard for human rights and the rule of law by condoning, and even encouraging, extrajudicial killings and other serious human rights violations. This behavior has further reinforced the Philippines’ long-standing culture of impunity,” the Observatory said in its statement.

For the Duterte administration to move forward, the Observatory recommended for “prompt, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigations” into alleged human rights violations against human rights defenders. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.