DAVAO DEL NORTE, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that progressive groups are “communists fronts,” is meant to gag dissent, a human rights group said on Wednesday, October 18.
The President previously said that transport group Piston, labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno and human rights group Karapatan are legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
But Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay refuted the President’s claim as a rehash statement which exposes human rights defenders in this country to various rights violations.
“Pres. Duterte is barking like a mad dog again,” she said. “His statement is not new; it is a tired, unoriginal label that attempts to subvert the public attention from the legitimate campaigns forwarded by these organizations.”
According to Palabay, branding progressive groups as communist fronts is part of the government’s counter-insurgency programs with the object to quash disagreement towards Duterte’s policies.
Karapatan reported about 41 human rights activists killed since 2001 during the term of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo under the government’s counter-insurgency program “Oplan Bantay Laya.” It resulted to the killing of Eden Marcellana and Benjaline Hernandez who were tagged as communist rebels.
The killings and illegal arrests continued during the Aquino administration which subsequently implemented “Oplan Bayanihan.” It resulted in a number of attacks against human rights workers, the group added.
Karapatan criticized Duterte for resorting to red-tagging “since he could not deliver his campaign promises.”
As such, the human rights group asked the President to keep up his promises on several issues, including the dismantling of labor contractualization, among others. (davaotoday.com)