CHR asked to probe red-tagging of human rights groups
MANILA, Philippines — A human rights group on Tuesday filed complaints before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) over the alleged practice of the Duterte administration to tag organizations as communist fronts and label them as terrorists.
In a letter, Karapatan, a national human rights organization, called on the CHR to investigate the practice. It said the organization had been a constant target of counter-insurgency programs in the past administrations, but it continued under the present administration.
“We enjoin the CHR and all others to conduct a full-blown hearing on these insidious acts of the Duterte administration,” Karapatan deputy secretary general Roneo Clamor said in the letter.
“It speaks so much of this government that it persecutes people for the exercise of their civil and political rights, and for thinking critically,” he added.
The group pointed out that the attacks come in different forms but altogether put the lives, security, and liberty of the organization’s members at grave risk.
“There is a substantial basis for all of us to be alarmed, what with the Duterte government’s staggering disregard for human rights and its advocates,” Clamor said, citing that at least 27 human rights workers of Karapatan have been killed since 2001.
“This CHR complaint and our engagements with the UN are part of the measures we are undertaking to end these attacks, to exact accountability, and to protect our courageous human rights advocates on the ground,” he added.
Karapatan cited in its complaint previous speeches of President Rodrigo Duterte openly tagging the organization as a “communist front and terrorist organization” in 2018.
The group also included in their complaint the tarpaulins displayed in public places with the message: “Karapatan at CPP-NPA ay iisa, at parehong terorista!”
Karapatan also mentioned a more recent incident where the names of members of Karapatan and other organizations were included in a flyer, which mentioned that they were “terrorist members of the NPA and the CPP.”
“Suffice it to say, these are all cowardly, recycled, and cheap maneuvers. This is in stark contrast to the bravery and firmness in principle exemplified by the individuals and organizations targeted by this government,” Clamor said.
The Karapatan deputy director noted how red-tagging and terrorist labeling seemed to be the work of a national task force (NTF) created by the President through Executive Order No. 70 in December last year.
The NTF’s mandate is focused on a “smear campaign against human rights organizations, courtesy of taxpayer’s money,” Clamor said.
He also claimed that the NTF had made the rounds in diplomatic missions to red-tag specific organizations, particularly Karapatan and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), which tagged as front organizations of the CPP and labeled as terrorists.
Aside from Karapatan, RMP and Kabataan partylist have also filed complaints at the CHR. /ee