Endemic Human Rights violation in the Philippines: A bloodbath craze act of the Duterte Administration? Or a propaganda of the Communist-Liberal opposition? By: Adrian Avilado Antazo, MBA

“Human rights must work to uplift human dignity, but human rights cannot be used as a shield or an excuse to destroy the country — your country and my country.”1

-President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, SONA 2016

The Current Human Rights Situation as depicted by the Mainstream Media:

The Extra Judicial Killings of Drug Suspects

According to Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, the administration of President Duterte’s war on drugs surpassed 20,000 death toll2 since the man with an iron fist from Davao occupied the highest seat of the government in 2016. The senator distinguished the 3,967 deaths from drug personalities killed in official police operation with the 16,355 homicide cases which was classified as crimes under investigation. But after the senator distinguishes the said deaths, he concluded that the said deaths were because of the war against drugs of the administration. The senator accused the government that the killings were State-sponsored.

John Gersham, a foreigner and so called expert in the Philippine politics said that the war on drugs is the cornerstone of Duterte’s domestic policy which was templated in his campaign to clean Davao city from drugs during the early years of his political career.3 According to Gersham, when Duterte said to go ahead and kill drug addicts, it was understood as an encouragement to kill the latter extra-judicially. His rhetoric created a condition for the people that killing drug pushers and dealers is an appropriate act.

GMA networks Bente Kwantro Oras (24 oras), the flagship news programme of the said network counted the incident of killing since President Duterte rise to power. During their broadcast, the count the number of deaths of the day and summing the total death count while stating that the killed suspect were “diumano ay nanlaban sa mga pulis” (allegedly fought back against the police), sending a doubtful connotation.

A very controversial case of Extra Judicial Killing was the death of the suspected drug pusher Kian Delos Santos, which triggered public outcry and scrutiny to the President’s War on drugs. The death of Kian Delos Santos also became one of the bases of the complainant in the International Criminal Court that the Government refuse to acknowledge and give justice to the victim. But contrary to the accusation of the Liberal – Opposition and complainant to the International Criminal Court, just this 29th of November 2018, the three police suspects in the said killing was found guilty by the Caloocan Regional Trial Court. The said murderer cops will face twenty to forty years of imprisonment without eligibility of parole.4  The ruling of the Regional Trial Court is a vindication to the government and the Duterte Administration that there is no State sponsored killings and that it do not condone any killing outside the Judicial process and rule of law. With the said ruling, it further shows that we have a functioning Judiciary and Judicial System which is independent from the Executive department, and that the International Criminal Court have no jurisdiction over the Philippines.

The Killing of Lumads

The leftist group accused the President of oppressing the Lumad tribes by killing their members and depriving them of education when the former threaten to bomb Lumads schools5 allegedly overtaken by the members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and indoctrinating the students of the said school to become rebels-members of the New People’s Army. During a speech in Malacanan, the President vented out and threatens the Lumads not to be involved with the rebels, and said that he will bomb their schools not administered by the Department of Education and which was being used by the New People’s Army in recruiting center for their foot-soldiers. The commander in Chief said that he will used the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine Airforce, and that he will really bomb the said school because they are operating illegally and that they are teaching the children to rebel against the Government. Duphing Ogan said that Duterte is waging war against defenseless indigenous people in Mindanao. The former is the secretary general of the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance Kalumaran.

Contrary to the claims of the Communist leftist – Opposition that the government neglects the Lumads, the government ask the leaders of the indigenous to prepare to relocate from their communities to temporary shelters which the government will build together with monthly stipend.6 The President hinted that the reason for the relocation was something to do with the counter insurgency efforts of the Government in the island of Mindanao. Subsequently, in contradiction of the claims of the Communist activitist that they were advocating for the right of the Lumads and other indigenous people, a Lumad leader on February 9, 2018 was shot dead in front of his family by members of the New People’s Army, the armed group wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.6 The daughter of the victim claimed that his father receives death threats from the New People’s Army for being an active advocate of Peace and Development. The victim, Datu Tiambong, met with President Duterte in the Indegenous People’s Summit held the prior month. He represents his tribe in the said Summit.

The Oppression against the Opposition

 The Deadly Tango of Laila De Lima

February 24, 2017, Senator Laila De Lima was arrested on charges of Drug Trafficking. Senator De Lima who headed the Commission of Human Rights during President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, waged a decade long movement to uncover the involvement of then Davao city Mayor Duterte as the Leader of the Davao Death Squad (DDS). The then Commissioner De Lima of Commission of Human Rights accused the former Mayor of orchestrating vigilante-style killings in the said city. In 2012, when De Lima became the Secretary of Justice during the Presidency of the Great President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, she ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to probe on the alleged death squad. In May 2016, the Mayor of a local government unit, who was subjected to the whipping by the former Commissioner and Justice Secretary of the National Government rose to power and became the Chief Executive of the Republic. The former Commissioner and Justice Secretary also rose to power as a senator of the Legislative. In August of 2016,

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte launched an investigation and accuses Senator De Lima of running a drug trafficking ring, with drug lords and criminals inside the New Bilibid Prison to fund her senatorial bid and election campaign. In retaliation, Senator De Lima, who headed the Senate Justice and Human rights Committee, launched a Senate inquiry in aid of Destabilization/ Legislation and a public hearing on the alleged extrajudicial killing in the President’s War on Drugs. The good and with pristine reputation Senator De Lima caught the whole Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, except Senator Trillanes IV, off guard when She presented in the said public hearing a self-declared Davao Death Squad Assassin Edgar Matobato, who without signing any affidavit or executing any sworn statement, lashed out and confessed that he and others killed more than 1000 people on orders of the former City Mayor. Meanwhile, in September of that same year, the House of Representatives conducted their own investigation on the Drug proliferation in the New Bilibid Prison and called upon the Drug Lords-Prisoner who testified and echoed the accusation of President Duterte against the Honorable Senator that she was indeed involved in the Drug trade. In December of the same year, the decent Senator De Lima was striped her by her fellow Senators as the Blue Ribbon Chair. The Powerful Blue Ribbon Committed Headed the Senator Gordon concluded that the President and the Republic are not responsible for the alleged Extra-Judicial Killings. February of 2017, the Justice Department filed Drug Trafficking charge against their former Secretary and subsequently was arrested later that month.8

From Running-mate to a Devoted Critic

May 5, 2016, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, filed a plunder case against the then Davao City Mayor – Presidential bid Rodrigo Duterte, before the Office of the Ombudsman, alleging the Mayor of having an estimated 11,000 ghost employees in his City hall in 2014.8 The brave Senator Trillanes IV also alleged that the City Hall of Davao spent Php 708 Million on their ghost employees. The No-retreat Senator also cited a reliable study of unknown accountants and financial specialists alleging that through the course of 9 years during then Mayor Duterte of Davao massed an reliable amount of 2.4 Billion pesos allegedly Deposited in Bank of the Philippine Islands in Julia Vargas, Ortigas Center, Pasig City. The said Allegation was up to this moment, never been proven.

Meanwhile, the evening of the day the principled Senator filed the plunder case against then Mayor Duterte, a Television Advertisement was aired on a primetime slot on ABS-CBN showing clips of Mayor Duterte cursing, uttering his controversial rape remark, and saying he is ready to kill. In between these clips, various children criticize Mayor Duterte for his behavior. The said TV advertisement was paid for the trustworthy Senator who was questioned by the supporters of Mayor Duterte saying that if Senator Trillanes does not have the money to fund his Vice Presidential bid, how he managed to fund an anti- Duterte advertisement. After the said advertisement was broadcasted, instead of yielding what the Senator’s real intent, it backfired against him together with his alleged handler, the Liberal Party.

March of 2017, less than a year after President Duterte won the electorate and became the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines, another Honorable Lawmaker and close ally of Senator Trillanes IV, Magdalo Representative Garry Alejano official filed an impeachment case against the President, calling for his removal for what he said were high crimes, betrayal of public trust and abuses of power. Subsequently, the House of Representative, the chamber of the congress that determines the sufficiency of the complaint against the President, voted in almost unanimous manner, dismissing the complaint of Congressman Alejano. 214 congressman voted Yes to adopt the findings of the Justice Committee to dismissed the said complaints while only a measly 4 congressmen who voted not to adopt the committee finding.10 The said congressmen were Alejano and his allies Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin, and Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, which are closed ally of the Liberal Party, the political party of the losing Presidential bid, Secretary Mar Roxas.

When the Honorable Lawmakers Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Congressman Garry Alejano failed to transmit the impeachment complaint against Duterte to the Senate, they went to the International Criminal Court in The Hague in June 2017 and lodge a supplementary communication in a sore – loser – desperate – act and asked the International Tribunal to step in an investigate President Duterte and his bloodbath campaign against illegal drugs. The two Lawmakers of integrity and the Lawyer of the Self-confessed Davao Death Squad Edgar Matobato, Attorney Jude Josue Sabio, accused our government that it has shown no interest of making the President accountable with all the Extra Judicial Killing because of the Drug war. In filing a complaint on the International Criminal Court, they alleged that our courts is dysfunctional and seek the wisdom of the International Tribunal.11

September 7, 2017, the man of integrity Senator Trillanes called the Presidential son Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo “Pulong” Duterte and his brother in law, husband of Davao City Mayor Sarah “Inday” Duterte, Atty. Mans Carpio upon the August hall of the Senate, linking the two in the alleged 6.4 Billion Drug Smuggling. Stripping them of any collateral Presidential immunity entitlement, the President ordered Pulong and Mans to attend the said Senate hearing to face sad defend themselves against the hard hitting Senator. In the said hearing, Senator Trillanes accused the Presidential son that he is a member of a Triad, a branch of Chinese transnational organized crime syndicates that operate in different countries.12 The trustworthy Senator during the senate inquiry also demanded the Presidential Son to take of his shirt in the hearing to show his naked back to the public, alleging that Pulong Duterte have a Huge Dragon tattoo with a serial number, signifying his membership of the Chinese Criminal Syndicate. With all the Accusation of the Good Senator, the Blue Ribbon Committee again concluded that Vice Mayor Pulong Duterte and Atty. Mans Carpio has no involvement in the said smuggling of illegal drugs. The said Senator failed to provide any substantial evidence linking the two in the said crime.

While the No-retreat Lawmakers Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Congressman Garry Alejano continues to hit on the Duterte administration and most often than not, calls for a Press Conference every time they open their mouth and lambasted the President. The Chief Executive retaliated with a sucker punch thru Presidential Proclamation No. 572,13 revoking the amnesty granted to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV during his adventurous years in the Armed Forces when he and a group of Junior Officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines occupied a hotel in Makati City and launched Coup d’état against the President of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The said incident was written in our History as the Oakwood Mutiny, where the said then Lieutenant Senior Grade Trillanes IV surrendered when the Government Forces assaulted their location.  In another case, when the said Lieutenant faces trial on his Coup d’état attempt in the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, the courageous then Lieutenant Senior Grade Trillanes IV walked out the courtroom of his trial and once again occupied the Manila Peninsula Hotel. The said event was then again written in our history as the “Manila Peninsula Siege” which again, Lieutenant Senior Grade Trillanes IV surrendered when the Armed Forces of the Philippines executed a serious assault to take the former down and stopped him from further insulting the Republic and the Armed Forces, dead or alive.

The retaliation of the Government does not stop there. President Rodrigo Duterte revealed that his administration has been silently investigating the alleged dealings of the Senator’s Parents in the Philippine Navy. The President accused the Mother of the Senator of being a supplier in the Navy which is a clear conflict of interest due to the Senator’s status before as an officer of the Navy.14 The Senator welcome the said investigation and stated that he will voluntary enter a prison cell if corruption against his parents will be proven. He also cited that this act of the government targeting his parents a below the belt attack against him and the opposition and signify the guilt of the President in the shipment of Illegal Drugs in the Philippines which he broadcasted to the public.

This tit for tat of President Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV all started way back before the Presidential Election of 2016. Sometime in 2015, before the election, then Mayor Duterte claimed that Senator Trillanes seeks to have a meeting with him and convince him to run for the Presidency. The Honorable Senator proposed that if the Mayor runs, he wanted to be his running mate as the Vice President.15  Other Vice Presidential aspirants such as Former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, failed to convince the former Mayor in accepting their Vice Presidential bid.16 While Senator Marcos accepted the defeat in convincing the Mayor to choose him as his tandem instead of his Nacionalista Party-mate Rival Senator Allan Peter Cayetano, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV who is also a member of the Nacionalista Party took the defeat sourly and dedicated his political career to destroy the administration of the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines.

The Matial Law in Mindanao

In response to the atrocity in the city of Marawi, with the occupation of the Maute Terrorist Group to overthrow the government and establish an Islamic State Caliphate in Mindanao inspired by the terrorist ideology of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in his state visit in Russia, declared Martial Law in the whole island of Mindanao to control anarchy from spilling over other towns and cities outside Marawi. The President cut-short his state visit to Russia and had a quick emergency meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Duterte apologies for the cut-short meeting and thanked the Russian President for accommodating the short notice meeting outside the Official Schedule.17 The President, upon the declaration of Martial Law due to lawless violence, also suspend the Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus. After five gruesome fire fight and bloodshed, the government won back the City of Marawi. With the fall of the Maute – Abu Sayaff Terror Group, the aftermath of the encounter shed a horrific scene. Most of the concrete structure in the Islamic city was in the brink of collapsing. Homes and businesses were destroyed, Infrastructure were useless, the road network where completely obliterated due to the airstrike from the Fighter Plane of the Government.

 It was Overkill, according to the spokesman of a local council of Ulama, Agakhan Sharief.18 According to him, there was an opportunity for negotiations with the Maute, which the terror group is considering surrender. New York Times, blames President Duterte for the escalation of conflict in the City of Marawi.19 the President was quoted that he dared the Maute to “go ahead, do it” when the ISIS inspired group threaten to burn the City down.

But according to retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Vincente Mendoza, “You cannot speak of violation of the Bill of Rights when there’s martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is effective,”20. The retired Associate Justice further justified that the act of the Chief Executive must be presumed to “act correctly, and that if anyone what to challenge the said act, they must challenge it in the court. He also cited that because of the rebellion in Marawi, Public Safety really requires the Declaration of Martial Law.

  In conclusion

The Human Rights condition in the Philippines is not as alarming as what the mainstream Media is broadcasting. The government of President Rodrigo Duterte is doing its best to comply with its obligation to its citizens. The human rights violation in the Philippines is clearing not state sponsored and not a policy of the government. Accusations against the government are either propagandas of the leftist-communist group to persuade the people that the government is against its own citizen and only servicing the oligarchs and capitalists which was there half a century long strategy to overthrow a Democratic Republic and introduce a Communist Society; or propaganda of the sore loser Liberal Party in the previous Presidential Election, that to protect their interest and to cover up for their mismanagement in the previous administration, they bombard the Duterte Administration with voluminous accusation so that when the Government run after them to seek vengeance for their mismanagement and graft and corruption during their previous reign, they will state the word “Pinupulitika” and reason out that the Government is doing the said act against them to oppress and silence the opposition.

Fotenotes:

  1. Duterte, RR (2016), The 2016 State Of the Nation Address, http://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/2016/07/26/the-2016-state-of-the-nation-address/
  2. Regencia, T (2018), Senator: Rodrigo Duterte’s Drug War Has Killed 20,000, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/02/senator-rodrigo-duterte-drug-war-killed-20000-180221134139202.html
  3. John Gershman, (2016) Interviewee, Xu, M. Interviewer Human Rights and Duterte’s War on Drugs,https://www.cfr.org/interview/human-rights-and-dutertes-war-drugs
  4. Buan, L. (2018) Policemen Guilty in Kian Delos Santos Killing, https://www.rappler.com/nation/217770-caloocan-policemen-convicted-murder-kian-delos-santos-killing
  5. Lingao, A (2017), Duterte Threatens To Bomb Lumad Schools, http://cnnphilippines.com/news/2017/07/25/Duterte-threatens-to-bomb-Lumad-schools.html
  6. Basa, M. (2018) Duterte Tells Lumad Leaders To Prepare For Relocation, – https://www.rappler.com/nation/195046-duterte-tells-lumad-leaders-prepare-relocation
  7. GMA News Online (2018), Lumad Leader Killed By Npa in Surigao Del Norte – Military, https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/regions/642835/lumad-leader-killed-by-npa-in-surigao-del-norte-military/story/
  8. France-Presse, A (2017), Duterte Vs De Lima: A Battle Over Death, Drugs, Reputation, https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/02/24/17/duterte-vs-de-lima-a-battle-over-death-drugs-reputation
  9. com (2016), Trillanes To Duterte: I Won’t Be a Hindrance, – https://www.rappler.com/nation/politics/elections/2016/132531-trillanes-acknowledges-duterte
  10. Cruz, RG (2017), House Dismisses Duterte Impeachment Complaint – https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/05/30/17/house-dismisses-duterte-impeachment-complaint
  11. Gutierrez, N (2017), Trillanes: Is Paolo Duterte part of a Chinese organized crime group?, https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/inside-track/181396-trillanes-paolo-duterte-tattoo-triad-customs
  12. Dizon, N (2017), Trillanes, Alejano File Complaint At Icc Vs Duterte’s Drug War – https://globalnation.inquirer.net/157711/trillanes-alejano-file-complaint-at-icc-vs-dutertes-drug-war
  13. Philippine Star (2018), Palace’s Revocation Of Amnesty For Trillanes, https://www.philstar.com/happens/488
  14. Esguerra, DJ (2018), Duterte: Gov’t ‘quietly’ probing Navy deals of Trillanes’ parents, https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1057321/duterte-govt-quietly-probing-navy-deals-of-trillanes-parents
  15. ABS-CBN News (2015) Duterte Twits Trillanes: ‘didn’t You Ask To Be My Vp?’, https://news.abs-cbn.com/halalan2016/nation/12/15/15/duterte-twits-trillanes-didnt-you-ask-to-be-my-vp
  16. Mendez, C. (2015) Bongbong Runs For Vp Sans Duterte, https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2015/10/05/1507670/bongbong-runs-vp-sans-duterte
  17. Philippine Star (2017), Duterte Declares Martial Law in Mindanao, https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/23/1703088/duterte-declares-martial-law-mindanao
  18. Al Jazeera (2017) Overkill? Some Locals Question Marawi Shelling, – https://www.rappler.com/nation/186789-overkill-some-locals-question-marawi-shelling
  19. GMA News Online (2017)- Ny Times Editorial: Duterte Partly To Blame For Marawi Conflict Escalation, https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/614791/ny-times-editorial-duterte-partly-to-blame-for-marawi-conflict-escalation/story/
  20. Ramos, M. (2017) Martial Law in Mindanao ‘justified and Needed’ – Retired Sc Justice – https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/899233/martial-law-in-mindanao-justified-and-needed-retired-sc-justice

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