WE are issuing this statement in reaction to the article posted on the Philippine News Agency website on May 8, 2019. We deem this malicious and misleading article of the Duterte government as another cheap stunt to malign and smear the legitimate human rights work and activities of Karapatan, amid the spiralling attacks on human rights defenders in the Philippines and the worsening human rights situation in the country.
While the registration of the former entity Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights was revoked, without proper notification from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), in 2005, Karapatan has remained operational and had secured a new registration under Karapatan Alliance Philippines Inc. (CN201306418, March 27, 2013) as a non-stock, non-profit, non-governmental organization with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Since then, we have consistently submitted all SEC reportorial requirements. Even as we abide by government laws on registration of legal entities such as non-profit organizations, we strongly assert too that operations and activities of NGOs and people’s organizations do not and must not require government approval or regulation, in order to freely do our work and conduct our advocacies as human rights monitors.
At present, we continue to conduct advocacy on human rights and people’s rights, monitor and document rights violations, and provide services to victims and their kin and platforms for public education on human rights issues and principles. Our human rights workers especially in the provinces remain steadfast in conducting their work, despite the perils of martial law in Mindanao and militarization in Negros, Samar and Bicol.
At least 58* of our human rights workers have been assassinated, with city councilor Bernardino “Toto” Patigas as the latest victim. Karapatan Chairperson Elisa Tita Lubi, Vice Chairman Reylan Vergara and Secretary General Cristina Palabay, and almost all our human rights workers in the provinces have all experienced threats and harassment. Despite and because of these, we are determined more than ever to overcome the challenges and attacks of this government. While we remain vigilant in upholding our legal status to operate as a human rights organization, we will not think twice in continuing our work even with threats or in the event that the Duterte government does its legal hocus-pocus in the SEC.
The fake news machine of the Duterte goverment has been churning one laughable matrix after another, one idiotic statement of military officials after another, one lunatic rave of the president after another. Such desperate stunts however do not deter groups and peoples in seeking accountability on the crimes of this government. On the contrary, such acts embolden the people to speak truth to power.
*We have previously issued statements on the 48 Karapatan human rights workers killed. Upon closer examination in our database, there were in fact 58 victims.