While the latest UN Human Rights Council resolution fell short of our expectation for a full and thorough investigation into the widespread killings and grave human rights violations in the Philippines, Migrante International would like to remind the Duterte regime that it is in no way an absolution for the crimes it committed against victims of state-terror. In fact, it recognizes the existing human rights crisis in the country and that the Philippine government will remain under the radar of the UN rights body in the coming years.
Despite the lies peddled by President Duterte’s underlings through blatant terrorist tagging and false information to delay the UN’s full-blown investigation, the recent call by members of the EU parliament looking into the possibility of withdrawing preferential trade benefits enjoyed by the Philippines due to human rights concerns should already serve as a warning to the Duterte regime.
More than just technical assistance, the best way to seriously promote and protect human rights in the Philippines is to ensure that perpetrators will be held accountable. The extrajudicial killings that claimed the lives of thousands including OFW cancer patient Allan Rafael who was tortured and slaughtered inside a Manila police station, and Migrante Iloilo founding organizer Jory Porquia, shot inside his place of residence remains unresolved to this day. Instead, we have seen Duterte’s agents of impunity showered profusely with favours. Among them is former Caloocan Chief Chito Bersaluna who was even promoted to head the entire Bulacan PNP just a few months after leading violent police operations that killed OFW sons Kian delos Santos, Carl Arnaiz, Reynaldo de Guzman and many others.
The recent shutdown by a social media site of fake news pages notorious for attacking government critics exposed the involvement of AFP and PNP personnel in actively antagonizing human rights defenders. AFP and PNP initially disowned the pages but later on asked Facebook for their restoration. These pages have been used to demonize the regime’s victims who have been set under the throes of state terror resulting in trumped-up charges, illegal arrests and killings. Migrante members and leaders overseas have not been spared from various forms of attacks and harassment. It should no longer be a surprise if the Duterte regime’s well-funded lies and deception reach all the way to international platforms to cover up its crimes.
Filipino migrant organizations under Migrante International and their solidarity networks will continue to engage in international platforms as we continue to press the Duterte regime to allow UN rights mechanisms to do actual work on the ground. Migrante International shall strive even more relentlessly in defense of human rights in the Philippines to ensure that delivery of justice will trounce the Duterte regime’s impunity.