Human rights group Karapatan reported Friday the rising number of human rights violation cases under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
The group said at least 87 cases of extrajudicial killings and 12 cases of enforced disappearances were documented from July 2022 to November 2023, while over 1.6 million individuals have been subjected to various state-sponsored “threats, harassment, and intimidation”.
Karapatan made the statement during a press briefing in Quezon City in the Philippine capital region on December 1, ahead of the observance of the International Human Rights Day.
Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, said civilians are being “increasingly targeted in the course of counter-insurgency operations through indiscriminate aerial bombings and artillery attacks, wreaking havoc on their lives and livelihood.”
She claimed that there is a growing number of International Humanitarian Law violations apart from the prevalence of state-sponsored extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, illegal arrests, and detention.
Palabay accused the government of “weaponizing” the anti-terrorism law against activists and political dissenters. “Victims are red-tagged, threatened and harassed and subjected to worse forms of human rights violations, effectively shrinking the civic space.”
Environmental activist and abduction survivor Jonila Castro lamented the “growing incidents of enforced disappearances” and “the pattern of presenting abducted activists as rebel surrenderees to the media.”
“It happened to us. We were victims of that modus operandi. Activists are being abducted and placed under military custody. Then they will force the activists to sign documents stating that they were armed rebels who surrendered,” she said.
Castro and Jhed Tamano went missing on September 2 in Orion town, Bataan province. After more than one week, the military surfaced them following its admission that the activists were in government custody.
In a press conference on September 19, organized by the government’s anti-communist task force, the two activists surprised the public when they confirmed that they “were abducted.”
Funa-ay Claver, a Cordillera-based Indigenous peoples’ rights activist, expressed concern for other victims of enforced disappearances including Dexter Capuyan and Gene Roz Jamil “Bazoo” de Jesus, who went missing in Rizal province.
“Dexter and Bazoo, who are defenders of Indigenous Peoples’ rights, remain missing to this day. Desaparecidos are not just numbers, they are people with names and dignity,” she said.
Karapatan announced a series of protest actions across the country to mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10.
“It is but fitting to spotlight the current dismal human rights situation in the country vis a vis international human rights norms,” said Palabay.
“We will find that as far as persons and communities in the grassroots are concerned, the human rights situation in the Philippines falls very short of the ideals embodied in the UDHR,” she added.