The tyrant’s blood debts: Human Rights report on Rodrigo Duterte’s remaining months in power
The tyrant Rodrigo Duterte ended his regime with the country drenched in the blood of tens of thousands of victims of his failed all-out war. On orders of the war criminal, abusive soldiers and police chalked up a long list of cases of terrorizing and attacking the people. In the last offensives of Duterte’s wicked war during the first half of 2022, thousands more civilians, and revolutionaries who were incapable of fighting, became victims of rights abuses.
Ang Bayan (AB) recorded at least 137 cases of various forms of violations from January to June 2022. Up to 5,843 fell victim to these cases, where more than 91% were victims of attacks on communities. Also, around 166 fell prey to arrests and detentions. Meanwhile, 40 individuals were extrajudicially killed, and seven others survived murder attempts. (Read: Table 1. The Violations)
Ang Bayan last released a compilation of human rights report in the first week of December 2021. Since publishing the said report, ten more victims of killings were recorded during that month alone. Also, 1,560 residents from five villages in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat were forced to evacuate on December 9, and 160 more in Capiz and Iloilo during a two-week militarization in December 14-27. Also, up to 100 residents fled artillery shellings in Lagonoy, Camarines Sur in December 28.
The multitude of victims in Duterte’s war of suppression are not mere numbers. Each mark on the tally of the regime’s butchers belongs to a name of a farmer, native, worker and other oppressed classes and sectors. From the outset, they were they ones who suffered the worst attacks. Even their cries for justice are muffled.
From January to June, most of the victims belong to the sector of indigenous people (2,206), workers (2,000) and farmers (1,514). (Read: Table 2. The Victims) Next are members of progressive and militant organizations who advocate people’s rights and welfare, and government critics. Up to 78 victims are members of people’s organizations under Makabayan and Bayan.
The aggressors: mercenaries in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP), both uniformed and those dressed as civilians. The methods in laying siege on communities, “terrorist” tagging that inevitably lead to assassinations, abductions, arrests and torture, are just a few of the practices learned from their US advisers and handlers. From indoctrination, funds, arms and annual exercises, the AFP and PNP have effectively become extensions of the US military in the country’s all-out counterinsurgency war.
Targeting large numbers
This 2022, combat battalions of the AFP and PNP now number 166, an increase from the previous year. These battalions laid siege on villages and communities. In the months covered by this report, violations that target communities remain the leading cause behind the biggest number of victims. Specifically, this pertains to forced evacuations and dislocations which recorded more than 4,340 victims. Also, up to 1,000 were subjected to economic and food blockades.
These numbers are just a fraction of the total victims in their tens of thousands. In the particular case of blockades, the recorded number of victims are in one Mindoro municipality alone. Victims in four more towns in the island, as well as a municipality in Lanao del Sur, were not documented.
These attacks are widespread and indiscriminate, and are perpetrated in wanton disregard of the welfare of vulnerable sectors such as the elderly, women and children. Most often, these violations are combined with long-term occupation, shellings, and aerial bombings and strafings. (Read related report at cpp.ph)
Consistently since 2020, military attacks against communities saw the biggest number of victims, although the number of incidents are not the highest. Based on previous reports, the combined number of victims of forced evacuations and blockades are more than 37,000 (51 cases) in 2020 and more than 23,000 (27 cases) in 2021. (Read: Table 3. Terror through the years)
The massive arrest and detention of the so-called Tinang 94 in June 9 may also be considered as an attack on communities. The Tinang 94 is a group of farmers and their supporters who carried out a collective farming in Hacienda Tinang in Concepcion, Tarlac. This number increased the number of victims (166) of arrest and detention compared to the previous half year (135), although the number of cases decreased compared to the same period (49 to 31).
A shift to other provinces
In the final leg of Duterte’s fascism, there is a noticeable increase in the number of victims in the provinces of Agusan del Norte, Occidental Mindoro, Maguindanao, Ifugao and Tarlac. (See: Table 4. Targeted provinces)
The number of victims also increased in Negros Occidental, which recorded the highest number of cases of violations (21) over the period. It is followed by Sorsogon with 15 cases, and Metro Manila (12 cases). From 2020, the last three areas continue to suffer human rights violations.
It can be said that these provinces were the focus of attacks before the end of the Duterte regime. On the other hand, it is possible that continuing grave violations in other provinces are not reported as a result of limited ways for the villagefolks to report attacks against them. For example, since 2020 Northern Samar is always among those with most number of attacks. Also, from 78 cases in the last quarter of 2021, only two cases were recorded in the province in the last report. However, armed encounters between the NPA and the military and police are frequently in the news, an indication of intense military operations in the province.
Barbaric against revolutionaries
Recognizing and respecting no laws of war, the armed minions of the previous regime act like savages. During the period covered by this report, at least 15 Red fighters and leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines who were hors de combat were killed by AFP and PNP personnel. The regime has employed dirty tactics in its crackdown against arrested revolutionaries to cover up violations of the rules covering combatants.
Among these is the case of the ailing National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant Pedro Codaste (Ka Gonyong) and fellow recuperating Red fighter Ka Sandro. The two were abducted on the third week of January in a house in Cagayan de Oro where they were staying, and were tortured for several days. The 4th ID surfaced their bodies in a forested area in Barangay Kalabugao, Impasug-ong in the neighboring province of Bukidnon and claimed the two were killed in an encounter.
This is the same method as the killing of Party leaders Menandro Villanueva and Sandra Reyes last December 2021. Both comrades were captured alive, tortured and killed in a mock battle. Meanwhile, NDFP consultants Ezequiel Daguman and Edwin Alcid have yet to be surfaced. They were successively abducted in different provinces in the first week of January and March, respectively. Another civilian was taken along with Alcid.
Intensified terror during elections
The elections during Rodrigo Duterte’s final months in power was marred by massive electronic fraud combined with attacks against mass organizations. Such fraud and violence resulted in the election victory of Marcos Jr and Sara Duterte, which restored the detested Marcos family, and perpetuated the family of the tyrant Duterte. Under the new regime, Rodrigo Duterte hopes he can avoid persecution for his war crimes.
The overall report took note of cases that can be considered directly related to the election, and recorded at least 44 different cases of human rights violations. Most of these (24) are cases of threats, harassment and intimidation targeting the organizers and supporters of Makabayan. These add to the 77 cases of the same violations in the previous half-month, showing a sustained attack against the group. (See: Table 5. Election Terror)
Most of the victims were in Cavite, after Rep. Jesus Crispin Remulla (currently the Secretary of the Department of Justice) linked the 47,000 attendees of the Robredo-Pangilinan campaign trail last March 4 to the armed revolutionary movement. A few days after, 11 organizers and members of the Makabayan were arrested in the province.
There were also seven recorded victims of extrajudicial killings, and six were abducted.
Days of reckoning
Victims, families and human rights advocates face an uphill battle to achieve justice over the brutal and dirty war of the previous regime, moreso since under the Marcos 2 government, the attacks by the military and police on the people are becoming more and more cruel.
No matter how big the obstacle may be, people are determined to hold Rodrigo Duterte accountable for his war crimes, along with his butcher commanders and generals. There is also a growing clamor to end bombings and shellings, and US control of the country’s counterinsurgency war. In addition, the people’s efforts to attain justice are met by the NPA in punishing the bloody military and police units and their commanders.