Filipinos hold anti-government protest in Manila on Human Rights Day

Activists say breaches have increased under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr

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Hundreds marched in the Philippine capital of Manila on Saturday to protest against what they said was an increasing number of human rights breaches under the government of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Activists have accused the government of carrying out extrajudicial killings.

The protesters, led by a Philippine rights group, gathered at a public square in the city before marching towards the presidential palace to demand justice for victims.

Police estimated that about 800 protesters took part in the rally, which coincided with Human Rights Day.

Cristina Palabay, secretary general of the Karapatan rights group, said it documented at least 17 cases of extrajudicial killings under the government’s counter-insurgency campaign, as well as four incidents of violence when the victims survived.

The number of political prisoners continues to increase, with 828 detained as of November 30, she said.

At least 25 were arrested after Mr Marcos Jr took office in June, she said.

“Despite these sordid figures there has been zero justice for the victims of extrajudicial killings,” Ms Palabay said.

“The culture of impunity continues to rear its ugly head.”

Organisers said protesters in areas including Manila comprises families of activists who disappeared or were tortured during the government of Mr Marcos Jr’s father, Ferdinand Marcos.

The crowds included victims of alleged human rights abuses under former president Rodrigo Duterte, whose war on drugs is under investigation by the International Criminal Court after thousands died.

Marcos Sr was ousted in an uprising in 1986 and died three years later in exile in the US without admitting any wrongdoing.

Critics accused him, his family and their associates of amassing between $5 billion and $10 billion while he was in power.

“We come together as families of victims from different regimes and presidents,” said Evangeline Hernandez, who leads a human rights victims' group.

"We have made it a point that every International Human Rights Day we call for justice, and commit to not allow the same violations to happen to others."

Karapatan said the government was increasing its use of anti-terrorism laws to suppress dissent and curtail freedom of expression, press freedom and freedom of association.

Ms Palabay appealed to the international human rights community to ensure there was justice for the victims of extrajudicial killings.

Updated: December 10, 2022, 10:24 AM
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