Protesters Denounce Human Rights Abuses

Extrajudicial killings are increasing under Marcos, Philippine opponents say
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 10, 2022 2:15 PM CST
Protesters Denounce Human Rights Abuses
Journalist Maria Ressa answers questions about her book Saturday in metropolitan Manila, Philippines.   (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Hundreds of people marched in the Philippine capital on Saturday protesting what they said was a rising number of extrajudicial killings and other injustices under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. The protesters, led by a Philippines-based rights group, gathered at a public square in Manila before marching toward the presidential palace to demand justice for victims, the AP reports. Police estimated around 800 protesters took part in the rally, which coincided with International Human Rights Day. Cristina Palabay of the rights group Karapatan said that under the Marcos administration's counterinsurgency campaign, the group has documented at least 17 cases of extrajudicial killings in addition to four other incidents of violence where victims survived.

The number of political prisoners continues to rise, with 828 detained as of Nov. 30, Palabay said, noting that at least 25 of them were arrested after Marcos took office in June. "Despite these sordid figures there has been zero justice for the victims of extrajudicial killings," Palabay said in a statement, denouncing, "the culture of impunity." Organizers said protesters in Manila and other parts of the country included families of activists who disappeared or were tortured during the administration of Marcos' father and namesake, ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos, as well as human rights victims under former President Rodrigo Duterte, whose brutal war on drugs is under investigation by the International Criminal Court after leaving thousands dead.

Also coinciding with International Human Rights Day, journalist Maria Ressa, one of the winners of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, launched in Manila her memoir, How to Stand Up to a Dictator: The Fight for Our Future. "It is a time when we are seeing our rights eroded globally, where you are seeing a shift away from democracy to ... fascism," she told the AP. The co-founder of local news website Rappler faces criminal charges filed by Duterte's administration and his allies related to Rappler's coverage of the killings in the war on drugs and alleged government-sponsored disinformation networks. Her book warns of creeping authoritarianism in the Philippines and elsewhere, saying it's aided by social media companies whose algorithms and business models have allowed their platforms to spread lies. "Until we solve this problem to stop the corruption in our information ecosystem we won't be able to solve any problems," she said. "In fact democracy is at risk."

(More Philippines stories.)

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