DAVAO CITY, Philippines – President Duterte’s claim that he never jailed a single critic of his administration was refuted by human rights group Karapatan who said 173 activists were detained under his administration.
Karapatan reacted to Duterte’s statement made on May 4 at the 37th Philippine Principals Training and Development Program and National Board Conference in Davao City, who said: “You know I never sent anybody to jail for criticizing me.
Duterte graced the 37th Philippine Principals Training and Development Program and National Board Conference in Davao City on Friday, May 4 where he said: “You know, I never sent anybody to jail for criticizing me. You use your freedom of expression. I have never sent anybody to jail for talking or bad mouthing me.”
But Karapatan said in a statement last Saturday that they had documented 173 cases of arrests and detention of activists and critics of Duterte’s administration.
The number is part of the 503 political prisoners who continue to languish in prison facilities in the country.
“Majority of them are peasant and trade union leaders, members of people’s organizations and organizers who have been working with the poor communities to push for genuine agrarian reform, living wages and security of tenure, accessible social services, among others,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.
Karapatan mentioned that among the 173 detainees are peasant leaders of Compostela Farmers Association, teachers and supporters of Lumad schools. The list also include youth activist Myles Albasin and five farmers now known as the Mabinay 6.
All of these jailed Duterte critics, Karapatan said, were charged with false criminal offenses to justify their continued detention. “His vengefulness against his critics who are vocal against human rights violations in the country has resulted to the drawing up of a fake terror list which includes UN experts and human rights defenders and to the daily threats and harassment against activists,” Palabay added.
The group also cited the case of Australian Missionary Sr. Patricia Fox who is currently facing deportation due to Duterte’s vindictive orders and pronouncements against foreign human rights observers and missionaries.
A peace consultant for the National Democratic Front, Rafael Baylosis was also arrested and detained along with his son-in-law.
“His mad thirst for sole control of power is driving him to persecute officials in other branches of government who do not share his propensity for brazen acts of violence,” Palabay said.(davaotoday.com)