Covering up rights abuses amid poverty and injustice

This article is available in PilipinoBisaya

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Union (EU), made the absurd claim that the human rights situation in the Philippines is “much better” under Ferdinand Marcos Jr during her visit to the country last July.

Marcos was utterly delighted by this statement which buttressed his regime’s relentless whitewashing and public posturing. He makes it appear that the situation in the country is fine despite the rampant cases of killings and other abuses of power.

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) expressed dismay over the EU president’s declaration. This is a “distortion of reality,” said Ka Louie Jalandoni, NDFP Chief International Representative.

Just last year, the European Parliament adopted a resolution urging the Government of the Republic of the Philippines to stop red-tagging progressive organizations and individuals. It also called for an investigation of cases of extrajudicial killings and ensure the accountability of police and politicians found to be involved in crimes against international humanitarian law and human rights.

The EU also called for ending political harassment against Sen. Leila De Lima who has been in prison for six years over trumped-up charges. It called for the immediate release of the senator and the prosecution of those behind her arbitrary detention.

Pursuant to the resolution, EU member states are prohibited from providing arms, surveillance technology, and other weapons that may be used in state repression.

Von der Leyen’s sudden reversal of the EU resolution is baseless. In reports gathered by Ang Bayan, at least 94,448 fell victim to human rights violations in the first year of the Marcos Jr regime. There were 954 incidents (or more than two cases per day) of human rights violations throughout the country. The number of victims of political killings reached 104.

“Instead of ending impunity in red-tagging… Marcos Jr empowered impunity,” said Ka Louie. “He appointed the Vice President and his cabinet members in key positions in the NTF-Elcac. The NTF-Elcac orchestrates state-instigated terrorism.”

Jalandoni also urged the EU to reevaluate its position in the face of Marcos’ obstruction of the International Criminal Court’s investigation into the bloody “war on drugs” of the previous Duterte regime, which will deny justice sought by thousands of victims.

Von der Leyen acknowledged that the human rights situation under Marcos was “improving” to pave the way for the EU to dump surplus goods and capital in the country under the guise of a “free trade” agreement. In particular, the EU is using its flagship “green economy” to invest in infrastructure projects in the country under the “Global Gateway” program. In this program, the EU will finance the construction of digital, energy and transportation infrastructure projects.

During von der Leyen’s visit, she awarded the country with a grant worth €466 million or ₱28.13 billion as inducement to Marcos and his officials. It will be invested in the regime’s infrastructure projects supposedly in renewable energy, plastic reduction, and waste management.

Since Marcos took office, there has been a noticeable influx of foreign companies investing in various “renewable” energy projects by European companies.

In June, the National Democratic Front-Ilocos warned against these projects that harm the environment and the people’s livelihood. According to the NDF-Ilocos, land grabbing and eviction of farmers and indigenous peoples in the forests and farms targeted for the construction of wind mill, solar power and other projects are rampant. Small-scale fishermen in the region are afraid of losing their fishing grounds due to the planned construction of an off-shore wind mill project in Ilocos.

Covering up rights abuses amid poverty and injustice