Conviction of PH “butcher” a reminder to rights violators as International Tribunal hears complaints vs. Duterte, Trump

The Peoples’ Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS), a global network of various grassroots groups of small food producers and food sovereignty advocates, joined Filipino activists in welcoming the guilty verdict on former Army general Jovito Palparan and said that the conviction is a reminder to human rights violators that they will be held accountable. The group made the statement as the International People’s Tribunal (IPT) 2018 convenes in Brussels to hear allegations of massive human rights abuses under current Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and US President Donald Trump.

Branded as the “butcher” for his involvement in the string of political killings of farmers and activists last decade, Palparan was convicted by a local court for the abduction, illegal detention and disappearance of two university students and rural community organizers in 2006. They remain missing until now.

“[The conviction] is an island of hope amid rising global impunity and violence against farmers and land activists,” said PCFS global secretariat coordinator Roy Anunciacion.  “The Filipino peoples’ unwavering resistance and firm demand for justice brought about this victory,” he added.

According to Philippine-based human rights group Karapatan, Palparan was among the leading implementors of the then Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration’s internal security plan Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) 1 and 2 implemented from 2001 to 2010. Filipino activists call the OBL a decade-long witch-hunt which allegedly resulted in 1,118 victims of extrajudicial killings (EJKs), 672 of which are farmers, fisherfolk, and indigenous people[i].

“May this conviction send a strong message to the country’s political leaders amid what appears to be a worsening climate of impunity in the Philippines. Bodies continue to pile up and justice remains elusive to thousands and thousands of victims, including slain land activists, farmers, indigenous people, human rights defenders, and ordinary citizens,” said Anunciacion.

 International Peoples’ Tribunal

Activists and human rights groups are convening the International Peoples’ Tribunal against the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and US President Donald Trump. The peoples’ court will be conducting a trial of the two leaders for their crimes against the Filipino people on Sept. 18 to 21 in Brussels, Belgium.

The Duterte administration’s “War on Drugs” has allegedly claimed almost 20,000 EJKs of suspected drug personalities while its counterinsurgency campaign Oplan Kapayapaan has killed hundreds, including 11 cases of massacres of Filipino activists and human rights defenders — 150 of whom are farmers and indigenous people fighting for their land against corporate landgrabbing.

The Philippines has been branded as the most dangerous country in Asia for farmers and land rights activists[ii]. In the past three months alone, at least 30 farmers and land rights activists were slain due to their opposition against mining, plantation, and big ticket projects that result to land grabbing.

“We stand behind the Filipino people’s condemnation of these human rights violations and their cry for justice. Like in Palparan’s case, we are confident in their determination in demanding accountability. We support their fight against impunity and reaction and believe that through collective struggle, justice will prevail,” Anunciacion concluded. ###

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[i] Karapatan Monitor, Jan – Mar 2010, last accessed Sept 17, 2018

[ii] At What Cost, Global Witness 2017, last accessed Sept 17, 2018

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