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iDEFEND condemns wave of repression vs. international human rights defenders

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement deplores the detention of Australian nun, Sr. Patricia Fox by the Bureau of Immigration for her involvement in activities supporting farmers and indigenous peoples, as well as the deportation of the Party of European Socialists (PES) Deputy Secretary –General Giacomo Filibeck on Sunday due to a black list order against him.

“We are alarmed at these operations as these may be pre-crackdown moves designed to warn the international community against criticizing the government’s anti-people policies” cautioned Ellecer Carlos, spokesperson for iDEFEND. “Both events are examples of repressive measures levelled against global human rights defenders by the government, which continue to implement a bloody war on drugs as well as Martial Law in Mindanao which violate the human rights of indigenous peoples,” he added.

“Sr. Pat has been in the Philippines for almost 30 years, supporting farmers and indigenous peoples. We have worked with Sr. Pat in our advocacy for land rights of indigenous and against mining companies” claimed Judy Pasimio, coordinator of LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights) “. “What we are seeing is a wave of government suppression of international solidarity for the Philippines.”

Giacomo on the other hand was part of a 2017 European fact finding mission that looked into extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. He was supposed to attend Akbayan’s Congress in Cebu when he was barred from entering the country and promptly deported.

The events followed threats by President Duterte that he will have ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda arrested if she ever sets foot on Philippine soil. It is also seen as government’s response to the international community’s call for a UN-led investigation into the thousands of victims of extrajudicial killings of Filipinos.  

President Duterte’s inflections and verbal threats against foreign entities and persons have now actually progressed onto actual clamp-downs on visiting human rights defenders.

iDEFEND follows national events closely as they unfold and considers the balcklisting, detention and deportation of foreign persons who have voiced their concern, part of a much larger government ploy to put in place a machinery and practice that curtails civil and political liberties in order to effectively silence dissent, criticism and persecute critics. This scheme includes the declaration of 600 individuals as ‘’terrorists’’ by the DOJ, the upgrade of Philippine government’s surveillance infrastructure and the stealthy advancement of the House Bill 7111 or the Foreign Electronic Surveillance Act.

The proposed legislation if enacted will allow the executive branch to conduct electronic surveillance-spy on foreign entities without court order or warrant. This proposed law’s purpose establishes a ‘’slippery slope” and can be surreptitiously used against international and regional groups and institutions which have been supporting human rights and social development work in the Philippines for a long time. Like the Marcosian laws and practices during the Dictatorship era, President Duterte and his allies are building the legal structures and apparatuses needed to witch-hunt groups and people in order to quell any opposition to authoritarian rule, mass human rights violations and the absence of a social agenda. Besides wanting to ensure an unrestricted path toward dictatorship, it is clear that these offences against foreign persons are part of President Duterte’s overall effort to avoid accountability for the mass extra-judicial killings.


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