Marcos' vow on human rights revisited | Inquirer News

Marcos’ vow on human rights revisited

/ 05:32 AM June 30, 2023

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has ordered the Department of Justice to conduct a “separate, independent, and fair” investigation into the joint police and military operation in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao del Sur, which killed seven Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members on June 18.    human rights

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. at a program in South Cotabato | FILE PHOTO: Screengrab from RTVM

A year has passed and rights advocates have yet to see improvements in the country’s human rights situation under President Bongbong Marcos, who has “done little” to address this issue, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday.

HRW looked into his efforts to address human rights-related problems since the time of his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, whose administration is accused of killing thousands in his brutal war on drugs.


Mr. Marcos has pledged and guaranteed that human rights would be protected during his term and tried to allay concerns of the international community. This was his promise to several Manila-based diplomats who congratulated him on his victory in last year’s presidential elections.


In a statement a day before Mr. Marcos was to mark his first year in office, the group said that the drug war killings continued “though at a lower rate.”

Philippine authorities “remain responsible” for the alleged extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrests of activists and critics of the government, it said.

It also pointed to the “baseless prosecutions” of veteran journalist and Nobel laureate Maria Ressa and former Sen. Leila de Lima, taking note of her continued detention.

‘Rescind the orders’

Citing data from the University of the Philippines’ Third World Studies Center, HRW said there had been 336 “drug-related” killings since Mr. Marcos assumed power, most of which were carried out during police operations.

“Marcos has yet to rescind the orders and other policy statements that underpinned Duterte’s ‘war on drugs,’” it said.

“He should formally announce an end to the ‘drug war,’ order investigations into officials implicated in illegal killings, and fulfill his promise to use nonviolent means to address illegal drugs,” it added.


‘Break from the past’

The group also suggested that concerned government agencies should provide “adequate and consistent” support to the families of the drug war victims, especially children.

HRW also reiterated its call on the President to cooperate with the investigation of charges of crimes against humanity allegedly committed by Duterte by the International Criminal Court.

Bryony Lau, HRW’s deputy Asia director, said Mr. Marcos “needs to do more than issue statements” about democracy and following the rule of law to demonstrate his “genuine commitment” to human rights.

“Without concrete action to break old patterns of abuses and secure accountability for past crimes, his words have little credibility,” she said.

“Marcos needs to demonstrate a break from the past and show concrete, measurable progress on human rights,” she added.

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READ: Duterte’s claim of EJK probe ‘self-serving, without basis’ – Human Rights Watch 

TAGS: Human rights, Human Rights Watch (HRW), Marcos

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