Rights situation not much better under Marcos, says group

Rights situation not much better under Marcos, says group

/ 05:15 AM December 11, 2023

The past year has seen more Filipinos “negotiating their rights for survival” with the rising cost of living, continued impunity and reduced quality of life combining to deepen the human rights crisis under the Marcos administration.

This was the assessment made by the Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights) which found that despite President Marcos’ seeming change in tune on key human rights issues such as the drug war and the practice of Red-tagging, he has also quietly continued many of former President Rodrigo Duterte’s strongman policies.

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay agreed, pointing out that the “sordid figures on rights violations prove that he (Marcos) is his dictator-father’s son and his regime, a continuation of that of his predecessor Duterte.”


“The two regimes are bound by the same antipeople policies of intolerance for dissent and the use of militarist frameworks to suppress people’s resistance to oppression,” she said on Sunday.


In a recent press briefing, PhilRights executive director Nymia Pimentel-Simbulan noted that while Mr. Marcos’ strategies “may have shifted away from Duterte’s macho posturing, on-ground realities reveal that not much has changed for the better.”

For one, Mr. Marcos has “adopted the Duterte regime’s lack of concern for exacting accountability [from] perpetrators of human rights violations,” including crimes committed during Duterte’s war on drugs, she said.

Simbulan also pointed out that despite the growing clamor to abolish the controversial National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac), the Marcos administration has not only maintained its massive budget but even expanded its membership to cover 21 out of the 22 executive departments with Vice President Sara Duterte named as co-vice chair.

The only executive department not named to the task force so far is the Department of Science and Technology.

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Quality of life

Under Marcos’ term, at least 80 activists, farmers, indigenous leaders and youth leaders were killed in “counterinsurgency operations,” PhilRights said. This was on top of the 474 drug-related deaths in the past two years since the change in administration, according to the University of the Philippines-Third World Studies Center.

Several human rights defenders and organizations also reported being harassed, surveilled and threatened by state agents, especially in light of the ongoing International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into alleged crimes against humanity committed during Duterte’s drug war.


These continued violations of civil and political rights, PhilRights said, affect the public. Unjust work conditions, the deterioration of the environment and even the removal of key subjects as well as the “sanitization” of educational materials have all contributed to a “downhill trend” in the quality of life for most Filipinos.

“In this era, pressing circumstances force the negotiation of rights for survival, further disempowering large segments of the populace,” said Simbulan.

‘Glimmer of hope’

Still, there were some slight improvements. For one, Mr. Marcos has indicated an interest in “returning to the fold” of the ICC. He also recently acknowledged that Red-tagging was an unjust practice that affected Filipino workers.

Simbulan said this was partly because of his desire to be “disassociated with his father.”

During a march to Mendiola to mark International Human Rights Day on Sunday, militant groups urged Mr. Marcos to pursue investigations into the alleged crimes committed during Duterte’s drug war and to remain committed to the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

“There is a glimmer of hope for human rights in the Philippines with the reopening of the peace talks,” said Bayan president Renato Reyes. “The desire to resume peace negotiations should lead to the removal of terrorist designations, the release of political prisoners.”

For its part, the Commission on Human Rights vowed to continue working with the government and civil society to ensure the country’s compliance with international human rights standards.

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“It is essential to further our collective actions in battling against discrimination and inequality, especially toward the marginalized, abused and victimized by the system,” it said. INQ

TAGS: Ferdinand Marcos Jr., PH human rights

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