Statement on the UN Special Rapporteur’s Visit to the Philippines
BAYAN USA welcomes the recommendations made by Irene Khan — the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression — on the human rights situation in the Philippines after her 10-day visit.
After meeting with government officials, activists, and journalists, she called on the Marcos regime to:
- Abolish the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC);
- Repeal the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (ATA)
- Seek justice for the victims of human rights violations under Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency;
- Issue a clear policy to discourage red-tagging and terror-tagging, especially by the government, which has resulted in threats, surveillance, attacks, and killings
- Pass laws to protect human rights defenders and decriminalize libel
Khan’s findings prove what activists, workers, peasant farmers, and Indigenous people have been emphasizing since the very beginning of Marcos’ term: that the attacks on people’s rights did not end once Duterte left office, but instead have continued under Marcos’ rule.
To no one’s surprise, the Marcos regime pushed back against Khan’s findings, defending the very agencies and policies that have led to grave violations of people’s rights, such as the NTF-ELCAC and ATA. It again shamelessly denied that the government has a policy of red-tagging despite being exposed countless times, most recently by the military abduction of two environmental justice activists, Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano. That the government has filed a defamation case against Castro and Tamano for speaking truth to power says enough.
As activists in the United States, our leaders, members, and the Filipino masses our organizations serve have been subject to the US-backed counterinsurgency apparatus of the Philippine state. We have been red-tagged on state-sponsored media agencies like SMNI, arrested for protesting Marcos and his cronies on visits to the US, surveilled by Philippine police and NTF-ELCAC agents deployed abroad, and even questioned and berated by Philippine consular officials simply for addressing the concerns of Filipinos in distress that they have failed to serve.
While the UN’s findings lend more weight to the call to end the state’s fascist attacks, it is the broad masses of the Filipino people — those who have been bearing the brunt of the violence and choosing to fight back — who will be decisive in making these calls a reality. We call on all others to denounce the US-backed counterinsurgency plan of the Marcos regime, take collective action to defend our rights, and build a mass movement to achieve justice for all victims of state terror.