“They tried to bury us. They didn’t know that we are seeds”—As Duterte’s term comes to a close, demand accountability

August 31, 2021

Letter to the Editor

Since 2016, the Philippines has been suffering from an intense human rights crisis.

The bloody War on Drugs has taken tens of thousands of lives and sows fear among communities, especially the urban poor, while our free and democratic space for civil and social participation is steadily being restricted.

Repressive governance and intolerance is being institutionalized with draconian legislation designed to silence dissent such as the Anti-Terror Law.

The government wants to dictate what social and civic participation is or is not acceptable. It maligns and attacks critical voices seeking to address social ills like structural poverty, hunger, and the lack of social services.

Hundreds of activists, development workers, and members of the civil society have been red-tagged, arbitrarily arrested on trumped-up cases, and even extrajudicially killed. These and many other human rights violations continue.

Yet these have not stopped or silenced the people and those who choose to stand with them in their battle to uphold rights, peace, and justice. On the contrary, it has galvanized people to stand up for their rights and spurred so many to protect democratic rights and freedoms painstakingly fought for over decades.

This collective strength is constantly tested by attacks but is undaunted and fuels battles for the greater good wherever these are fought. There are already victories such as in the series of dismissals of trumped-up charges against activists, the Supreme Court’s ruling on police body cameras, and many others.

As the current administration’s term comes to a close, we members of civil society urge every citizen, advocate, group and organization believing in human rights to join and support the call to stop the killings, demand accountability and justice, and retake the freedoms that we have lost.

Through unity and solidarity, we shall “rise like lions” and prevail, for “ye are many—they are few”, as the poet P.B. Shelley once said.

Council for People’s Development and Governance
(originally publish by Philippine Daily Inquirer)