After much striving in the international arena, Migrante International joins other Human Rights groups in welcoming the adoption by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) of the resolution calling for a comprehensive report on the bloody human rights record of the Duterte regime. This would impute accountability to the government as it gets compelled to allow independent investigations to be carried out so that perpetrators will finally be brought to justice.
For this feat, we laud all groups including Karapatan, the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), and the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) for their triumphant lobbying work and determination. Most notably, we are very grateful to Iceland for sponsoring the resolution.
The Iceland-drafted resolution was affirmed by 18 member countries and backed by 28 non-member states. We view this development as a light that dispels the wretchedness confronting many Filipino families and communities struck by state terror. Duterte himself has admitted to his primary role in the brutal drug war killings that have claimed thousands of lives, the overwhelming majority of whom are from poor localities.
In addition to the council’s concern on the Tokhang-related extrajudicial killings, the violent persecution of rights advocates and critics will be taken into account in upcoming probes. Tensions have been running high after the Duterte regime intensified its vicious assaults on the people’s defenders. A tremendous upswing in the cases of carnage and illegal arrests of activists and human rights workers occurred in the last few weeks.
Migrante International was never left untouched by harassment and intimidation. Right after we issued the Global Petition of Filipino Migrants which was submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Migrante International has been enduring a more intensified vilification and intimidation campaign from state-sponsored hooligans.
On 7 July, members of UNIFIL-MIGRANTE in Hongkong were pestered by a bunch of OFWs who introduced themselves as members of Makabayang Pilipino sa Hong Kong. They were posting banners and distributing leaflets of NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict). The propaganda materials contained hate-filled messages vilifying Migrante International and other progressive organizations that are opposed to the tyrannical rule of the Duterte regime.
When confronted by UNIFIL-Migrante members, they were quick to brag about having the stamp of approval from the Philippine Consulate General (PCG) in Hong Kong. Members of UNIFIL- MIGRANTE in Hongkong are now verifying this claim from PCG officials.
Just a few days later, on 10 July, staff members of our home office in Quezon City were rattled by a barrage of phone calls from somebody who identified himself as a media personnel. The enraged caller played back the Hongkong incident and kept yelling and hurling expletives at our staff, telling her that Migrante is a terrorist organization.
Furthermore, Migrante members in Saudi Arabia and Europe fielded reports about the so called “Aming Pinoy Community Leaders” seminar being conducted within the premises of Philippine embassies and consulates where Migrante International and other progressive groups are constantly red-tagged and disparaged during seminar sessions.
Using publicly-funded government resources, the Duterte regime is keen on stamping out dissent at all cost by capitalizing on pro-Duterte groups. Under the direction of NTF-ELCAC and other agencies used as instruments of suppression, it wages a black propaganda war against progressive organizations like Migrante International which for a long time have upheld the rights and welfare of OFWs and their families. This tactic of tagging Duterte’s critics as terrorists is the regime’s way of justifying the killings, enforced disapperances, torture, illegal arrests and repression perpetrated against human rights defenders.
Given the immensity of the bloodshed inflicted on the Filipino people, Migrante International holds the Duterte regime accountable for the extrajudicial killings and human rights violations it committed all for the sake of gratifying the interests of his fellow criminals in the ruling class. Before the international community, the victims of injustices bear witness to these atrocities. We shall not back down for the day of reckoning is at hand. Neither defamation nor bullets shall ever stop the waxing resistance of the Filipino masses against the Duterte terrorist regime.