29 November 2018
H.E.  Rodrigo Duterte
President of the Republic of the Philippines
Malacañan Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel,
Manila, Philippines 1005

Sub: Civil Society Organisations Urge the Philippines Government to Put People’s Rights and Fundamental Freedoms First

Dear President Duterte,

The undersigned national, regional and international organisations urge Philippines President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and the rest of your administration to act on behalf of and put people’s rights and interest at the center of your governance.  This urgent request comes from a deep concern on the deteriorating state of human rights and democracy in the Philippines and the blatant disregard for it by your administration. In the past two years, the international human rights community has witnessed how your all-out war on drugs has not resulted in curbing the “drug problem” in the Philippines. It has instead resulted in the death of over 20,000 people (mostly minors) and has targeted poor communities. It has also been over a year since the imposition of Martial Law in Mindanao that has not protected the lives of civilians but rather legitimised militarisation that protects the interests of the local and  foreign economic elites. Since the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao over 1,000 people have been killed during the Marawi siege alone, 88 documented extrajudicial killings and nearly half a million people displaced from their homes and deprived of livelihood. As if deaths and displacements are not enough you have also assured the Philippine Military that they can rape with impunity.

The current administration’s counterinsurgency program dubbed Oplan Kapayapaan is essentially an internal security plan meant to target government opposition , political dissenters, any and all groups that oppose the government. It is the  blueprint that guides the operations of the military and the police legitimising extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, judicial harassments, vilification, intimidation and surveillance of political opposition and human rights defenders. It was  in this context that you displayed your brand of misogyny by ordering military troops to shoot women combatants of the New People’s Army in their vaginas to render them useless.

Alarmed by the Duterte administration’s increasing disregard for human life and rights amidst a culture of impunity that it continues to fan, we highlight the killings, political detention and ongoing threats and intimidation of   and human rights defenders:

  • Mariam Uy Acob  and Elisa Badayos, Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs), were killed in 2018 and 2017. Yet to date, no investigations have been initiated and their families continue to suffer the loss and injustice while their perpetrators are still at large.
  • Continuing detention of at least 415 political prisoners, 45 of whom are women who have been arrested on trumped up criminal charges. They are now languishing  in various jails and detention camps in the country. This includes Gabriela consultant Hedda Calderon, public sector union organiser Rowena Rosales who is detained with her husband Oliver, youth activist Myles Albasin and her five companions, indigenous volunteer teacher Jolita Tolino and development worker Rita Espinoza.
  • The Department of Justice’s “terrorist list” lists 649 names, some are unspecified, including women human rights defenders. W/HRDs who work, consistently and tirelessly in upholding the rights of women continue to be subjected to threats and intimidation, vilification and surveillance by  state security forces and their cohorts. This includes Karapatan women human rights defenders Elisa Tita Lubi, Cristina Palabay and Clarizza Singson, human rights lawyer Katherine Panguban, and indigenous WHRD Alma Sinumlag.

 As human rights defenders fighting various battles at the national and international levels we stand together in solidarity in demanding that the Duterte Administration:

  • Stop the killings, attacks, judicial harassment and criminalisation of the work of human rights defenders, and political dissenters. Human Rights Defenders are not criminals or terrorists and speaking up against the president and calling attention to gross human rights violations in the country and elsewhere are not acts of terrorism to be punished;
  • Scrap the Oplan Kapayapaan as it is being used to target civilians and human rights defenders;
  • Immediately conduct fair and independent investigation, prosecute and punish human rights violations by agents of the State and non-state actors, including the extrajudicial killings of human rights defenders;
  • Provide access to justice with full resource to victims and survivors of human rights violations conducted by state and non-state actors in the context of ‘drug war’, counterinsurgency programme and attacks against political dissenters or human right defenders;
  • Adhere to and respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and all other major Human Rights instruments that the Philippines is a party and signatory to;
  • Certify as urgent the enactment of  House Bills 1617 and 8128, two important pieces of legislation that will recognise and protect human rights defenders in the Philippines and effectively domesticate the UN Declaration for human rights defenders.

Deadline to sign on the letter has been closed.

Annex 1

List of Women Human Rights Defenders victims of deaths, detention and harassment (2017-2018)

List of Signatories

  1. Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), Thailand
  2. Karapatan Negros, Philippines
  3. Tanggol Bayi, Philippines
  4. Sharanya, RITES Forum, India
  5. Kalayaan Rosales, Philippines
  6. Mark Anthony V. Ambay III, Philippines
  7. Kulog Kuwago, Philippines
  8. Grace Cantal-Albasin, Philippines
  9. Issa Vergara, Philippines
  10. Girlie Remo, New Zealand
  11. Zara Alvarez, Philippines
  12. Karen Lai, Malaysia
  13. Gea Ecoy, Philippines
  14. Jayson Visitacion, Philippines
  15. Nick Sarmiento, Thailand
  16. Oro Art Guild, Philippines
  17. Ruth Castillo, Philippines
  18. Migrante International, Philippines
  19. Clarizza Singson, Philippines
  20. Feminist League, Kazakhstan
  21. Rita Mainrad, Switzerland
  22. Giselle Tongi Walters, USA
  23. Weng Caraig, Italy
  24. Louie Queano/Migrante Ontario, Canada
  25. Filipino Domestic Workers Association, United Kingdom
  26. Phoebe Dimacali, Philippines
  27. Eva Mayor, United Kingdom
  28. Ma. Sophia O. Moriles, Philippines
  29. St Patricia Fox, NDS, Australia
  30. All UP Academic Employees Union (UP Cebu Chapter), Philippines
  31. Phumi Mtetwa, South Africa
  32. Kanlungan – Alliance of Filipino Organisations, United Kingdom
  33. Campaign for Human Rights, United Kingdom
  34. Cordillera Peoples Alliance, Philippines
  35. Bestang Dekdeken, Philippines
  36. Suyin Jamoralin, Viva Salud, Philippines
  37. LOOM NEPAL, Nepal
  38. Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CPSHR), Canada
  39. Migrante BC, Canada
  40. Alliance for Peoples Health (APH), Canada
  41. Virgilio V Dacalos, Philippines
  42. The Silent Majority, Philippines
  43. Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers in Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  44. Philippines Australia Solidarity Association (PASA), Australia
  45. Mon, Philippines
  46. Peti S. Enriquez/Defend Southern Tagalog, Philippines
  47. Marilou Divinagracia, Philippines
  48. Jimmylisa Badayos, Philippines
  49. Jimmylisa Badayos/Karapatan-Cental Visayas, Philippines
  50. Laurence Choquette Loranger, Canada
  51. Kadamay, Philippines
  52. Ismael Bihasa, Cayman Islands
  53. Filipino Domestic Workers Association, Philippines
  54. Lyza Mae F. Pelagio, Philippines
  55. PWU Golden Z Club, Philippines
  56. Judy Gonzales, Norway
  57. Jay Em, Philippines
  58. Green Research, Philippines
  59. Women Helps Women, The Netherlands
  60. Natural Resource Women Platform, Liberia
  61. Raju Desai, USA
  62. Vida Asuncion Barcenas, Philippines
  63. Yousof Tuazon, United Kingdom
  64. Center for Women’s Resources (CWR), Philippines
  65. Ivan Enrile/People Over Profit, Philippines
  66. Beyond Beijing Committee, Nepal
  67. Chatchalawan Muangjan, Thailand
  68. National Indigenous Women Forum, Nepal
  69. Rubini Maheswaran, Malaysia
  70. Rural women’s association Alga, Kyrgyzstan
  71. Maggi, Canada
  72. Fundacion Arcoiris, Mexico
  73. Solidaritas Perempuan (Women’s Solidarity for Human Rights), Indonesia
  74. Fundacion para Estudio e Investigacion de la Mujer, Argentina
  75. Vernie Yocogan-Diano, Philippines
  76. Jo Quiambao, GABRIELA Washington, D.C., USA
  77. Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, Fiji
  78. We Women Lanka, Sri Lanka
  79. Beautiful Hearts, Mongolia
  80. Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights, Philippines
  81. Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights – Africa, Tanzania
  82. Red Tani/Filipino Freethinkers, Philippines
  83. National Federation of Sugar Workers, Philippines
  84. Tanggol Magsasaka, Philippines
  85. Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR), Philippines
  86. PINAY, Canada
  87. Adriana Garcia Maiz, USA
  88. Radio Pinoy Copenhagen Denmark, Denmark
  89. Rebekah Jaung, United Kingdom
  90. Kuniko Yamada and Lolanetto Sanntama, Japan
  91. Alma Sinumlag/Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples Rights (TFIP), Philippines
  92. Centre for Human Rights and Development, Mongolia
  93. Kiran Shilpakar, Nepal
  94. Stop the killings of WHRD, Fiji
  95. Rama Dhakal/Voice for Equal Opportunity, Nepal
  96. CWEARC Inc., Philippines
  97. Mylene Cabalona-BIEN, Philippines
  98. Ness Gavanzo, Australia
  99. Maldivian Network for Empowering Women, Maldives
  100. PA “SHAZET”, Kyrgyzstan
  101. National Forum of Women with Disabilities, Pakistan
  102. Sangsan Anakot Yaowachon Development, Thailand
  103. Public foundation “JIPAR”, Kyrgyzstan
  104. E Pleeth Baung, Myanmar
  105. Arnel Mardoquio, Advanced League of Peoples’ Artists- Melbourne, Philippines
  106. Women of Diverse Origins-Femmes de diverses origins, Canada
  107. International Women’s Alliance, Netherlands
  108. Centre for Philippine Concerns-Centre d!appui aux Philippines, Canada
  109. Cesar Taguba, Netherlands
  110. Nurgul Djanaeva, Forum of women’s NGOs of Kyrgyzstan
  111. Human Rights Concern – Eritrea (HRCE), United Kingdom
  112. Forum of Women’s NGOs of Kyrgyzstan, Kyrgyzstan
  113. Furhan Hussain, Pakistan
  114. Community Development Services (CDS), Sri Lanka
  115. Angie M. Gonzales/International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, Netherlands
  116. Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), Philippines
  117. International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) – Commission 10, Philippines
  118. National Campaign for Sustainable Development, Nepal
  119. Institute for National and Democracy Studies (INDIES), Indonesia
  120. Community Development for Peace, Bangladesh
  121. Indigenous People’s Right Initiative, India
  122. Center of Regional Science and Development, Kyrgyzstan
  123. Public Association “Alliance for Civil Initiatives Promotion”, Kyrgyzstan
  124. Общественное объединение “Центр развития и социальной помощи населению “Мой дом” г. Темиртау
  125. Huw and Sheila Jones, United Kingdom
  126. Human Rights Matter, Germany
  127. IBON International, Philippines
  128. NGO “Otifa”, Tajikistan
  129. Gram Bharati Samiti (GBS), India
  130. Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Canada
  131. Yangchi Pema, Bhutan
  132. Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, Canada
  133. Asia Pacific Research Network, Philippines
  134. Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Philippines
  135. Tanggol Magsasaka, Philippines
  136. Just Associate Southeast Asia (JASS), Southeast Asia
  137. ICID (Iniciativas de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo), Spain
  138. Nepal Disabled Women Association (NDWA), Nepal
  139. Gabriela Hongkong
  140. Awaj Foundation, Bangladesh
  141. IMA Research Foundation, Bangladesh
  142. Sotheary Chun, Cambodia
  143. Sari Wijaya, Indonesia
  144. EquityBD, Bangladesh
  145. Asma Akter (Researcher, Fisher women’s access to medicine), Bangladesh
  146. Backyard Politics, Thailand
  147. Noy Chhorvin, Cambodia
  148. Cambodian Young Women’s Empowerment Network, Cambodia
  149. Julie Lun, Myanmar
  150. AMIHAN Peasant Women, Philippines
  151. GABRIELA Ontario, Canada
  152. Alifatul Arifiati, Indonesia