The Philippines is famous for its stunningly varied geography and cultural diversity. Over 175 languages and dialects are spoken across the sprawling mass of over 7000 islands.
What is a little less known about the Philippines are the high levels of corruption, poverty, and human rights violations.
The list of violations is long – including poor prison conditions, a corrupt judicial system and security force involvement with disappearances, torture, unlawful detention and killings.
In 2016 the Philippines elected a new President, Rodrigo Duterte, who is famous for his tough stance on law and order, and low regard for Human Rights.
He is a controversial figure to say the least, having been reported as making the following comments:
‘Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there is three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them’
‘Forget the laws on human rights. You drug pushers, hold-up men and do-nothings, you better go out. Because I’d kill you’
‘The campaign against drugs will continue until the drug manufacturer is killed and I don’t give a shit about anybody observing my behaviour.’
‘I will recommend to Congress the restoration of death penalty by hanging in public.’
Since he took office in June 2016, there have been over 7000 extra-judicial killings by police and vigilante groups, largely of those involved in the drugs trade.
Of late, a significant number of elected officials – from City Mayors to Senators – have been arrested on trumped-up drug-dealing charges – including human-rights advocate Senator Leila de Lima, a Duterte foe since exposing his illegal Death-Squads when he was Mayor of Davao.
Despite all this he remains very popular. However, on a recent visit to The Philippines by one of our members, although it is true that the streets are cleaner and safer, new consumer and safety laws are being implemented (although often passed by the previous regime), and there is anecdotal evidence of the endemic corruption of the country being addressed, it is clear that Duterte’s opponents are frightened to speak out for fear of summary arrest on fake drug-dealing charges. This means that getting information on specifics to campaign on proves hard to obtain. To this end, our member is seeking to fill the currently open post as UK Country Coordinator for the Philippines
With no other local Amnesty group focussing on The Philippines, our efforts in supporting and promoting Amnesty Philippines’ work is all the more necessary and timely.
Click this link for more information: THE PHILIPPINES