Farmers support the International People’s Tribunal probing of Duterte and Marcos Jr’s grave HRVs, IHL violations – updates from the peasant movement of the Philippines

Peasant-based human rights network Tanggol Magsasaka (Defend Farmers) today expressed support for the ongoing International Peoples Tribunal 2024 (IPT) happening in Brussels, Belgium to probe the grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the Duterte and Marcos Jr regimes.

“It is high time that we exact accountability from former president Rodrigo Duterte Jr. His regime was responsible for the worst human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian laws ranging from political killings, massacres, summary executions, and bombings of civilian communities,” according to Tanggol Magsasaka.

“Duterte’s regime ended in June 2022, in what seemed to be the longest six years in the recent history of the people’s movement’s advancement of human rights and justice in the Philippines. Duterte had left an indelible legacy of impunity and a massive human rights crisis. Duterte’s reign of terror was characterized by mass murders and the sham drug war, commitment to war crimes, killing of hors de combat, abductions, massacres, and illegal arrests of NPA guerrillas. These happened under Duterte’s whole-of-nation campaign of state terror that victimized thousands of Filipinos.”

Based on the documentation of human rights group KARAPATAN, from July 2016 to June 2022, there were a total of 442 documented victims of extrajudicial killings in line with the Duterte government’s counter-insurgency campaigns. Two hundred twenty-two (222) of the victims were human rights defenders, with the rest coming from the ranks of peasants, indigenous and Moro peoples, workers, environmental defenders, lawyers, church people, and the urban poor. At least 336 victims were from the peasant sector, 103 were leaders and members of KMP, 31 victims were from Anakpawis, and three were from Pamalakaya. The killings had been widespread, occurring in all regions of the country, and had occurred often in public places, in broad daylight, and in front of witnesses, illustrating the brazenness of the perpetrators.

Tanggol Magsasaka even tagged Duterte as “Massacre King” because of the numerous massacres during his presidency, with victims mostly from peasants and indigenous peoples. There had been 26 massacres documented under Duterte. These massacres resulted in the deaths of 123 individuals. Seven of the massacres occurred in Mindanao; nine in Luzon; and nine in the Visayas.

“We have not achieved justice for the numerous human rights violations under the previous Duterte administration. Furthermore, the Philippine government’s Executive Order No. 70 and the formation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) using the “whole of nation approach”, comprehensively undermines the rights of the Filipino people. Such policies mobilized the police and military to violate the civil and political rights of peasants whom they stigmatized as armed communist insurgents. The climate of impunity  spurred by such smear campaigns provides a fertile ground for not only for political killings but also for legal persecution of advocates and groups supportive of peasant and workers’ causes.”

The strong condemnation in the Philippines of drug-related killings and the victims and their families’ loud clamor for justice, gained attention and support in the international community. For Duterte’s drug war victims reportedly totaling to over 30,000, thousands of families, many of them nameless and faceless victims, who had been denied the right to due process, and ultimately the right to life, hopes to attain justice, where justice should be served.

The Marcos Jr regime is continuing the policies of the previous Duterte government — intensified militarization and heightened police brutality resulting in a host of human rights violations. While the anti-drug war is impacting urban poor communities, the counterinsurgency campaign continues to affect the lives of the rural poor. Tanggol Magsasaka said Marcos Jr’s refusal to abolish the NTF-ELCAC shows his complicity to the ongoing state-sponsored rights abuses.

The IPT 2024 is a quasi-judicial forum that aims to investigate and address alleged war crimes and violations of international humanitarian law committed by the US-supported Marcos Jr. and Duterte regimes. The tribunal will examine various cases to be filed against the defendants including political killings, torture, enforced disappearances, mass arrests, indiscriminate firing, aerial bombings of communities, and other forms of political suppression tantamount to crimes against humanity.

The IPT 2024 follows a long history of peoples’ tribunals that have shaped international public opinion and tried various regimes on crimes against humanity. The IPT takes inspiration from the Russel Tribunal, also known as the International War Crimes Tribunal, which held two sessions in 1967 to expose the war crimes committed against the Vietnamese people. This was succeeded by the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) which was founded in June 1979 in Italy by law experts, writers, and other intellectuals. #

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Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas or Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP) was founded at a time of great political upheaval and broad mass movement against the tyranny and abuses of the Marcos dictatorship. Hundreds of peasant leaders and land reform advocates from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao gathered during the historic founding of KMP on July 24, 1985. After thirty five years, KMP remains as the largest national democratic mass organization of peasants in the Philippines.

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