It has come to our attention that National Security Adviser Hemogenes Esperon Jr. has singled out Karapatan as a “legal front” of the Communist Party of the Philippines. This is not the first time that a government official has done so, following the President’s own statement last July 25, 2019 that Karapatan “deserves to be hit.” We have repeatedly expressed the seriousness and the dangers of red-tagging, particularly for human rights workers on the ground. Under this government, 11 human rights workers under Karapatan have already been killed. We are not some legal front, but an alliance of human rights organizations and advocates that have relentlessly continued to expose the crimes and violations of state forces across all administrations.
Karapatan firmly suggests that the government quit scapegoating, and start facing the consequences of its anti-people policies. State forces remain the foremost violators of human rights because of the militarist campaigns that this government has spearheaded and graciously funded. We definitely did not commission the deployment of soldiers in peasant communities which has led to widespread terror, nor did we direct police operations which have killed thousands. That is on you and your ilk, Mr. Esperon.
We likewise roll our eyes at this new accusation that we are on the side of “drug-driven crimes.” This is another twisted machination to demonize human rights defenders. We advise Mr. Esperon to read through all our publications, and there he will find recommendations on how human rights organizations understand, and seek to resolve the illegal drug trade problem. Militarist policies have not been effective in eliminating, not even reducing the trade of illegal drugs. What organizations like Karapatan do is to raise and expose the experiences of those mostly affected by this murderous policy. We are not on the side of drug-driven crimes, but of poor Filipino families who are at the vicious end of ineffective, militarist campaigns.
The violations that we have raised and the accountability we seek from government agencies are justified and backed with the testimony of families and victims. We do not claim that human rights is our exclusive domain, which is why we enjoin and work with communities, sectors, victims of human rights violations, and other groups and individuals to stand for human rights.
Again, we remind NSA Esperon, just as we have done with AFP’s Parlade, that government is the foremost duty-bearer in the promotion, protection and actualization of human rights. This is why government agencies and state forces are being held accountable for many violations. Hihingi kami ng pananagutan sa gobyerno dahil sila ang may mandato at responsibilidad na ipatupad at protekatahan ang karapatang pantao ng bawat Pilipino.