Families of Desaparecidos and EJK Victims light thousand candles on All Souls ’ Day to call for end to state violence
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Friday, 03 November 2017 14:00

Families of Desaparecidos and EJK Victims light thousand candles on All Souls ’ Day to call for end to state violence

LightingPhotos by Anni Mustonen

On November 2, 2017, All Souls’ Day, about 50 families of victims of involuntary disappearance and extrajudicial killings lead a gathering of more than a hundred religious, human rights advocates, and activists in lighting thousands of candles and offering prayers for victims of state violence.

While most Filipinos remember their dearly departed on All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, families of desaparecidos have no closure as to the fate of their loved ones and no graves to visit. Members of the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) traditionally gather to remember their loved ones. This year, they spend All Souls’ Day with the families of victims of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) under the government’s war on drugs at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Memorial Center in Quezon City.

Mask_and_candles_small“The families of victims of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings are one in holding the State accountable for these heinous and violent transgressions of human rights,” Nilda Sevilla, FIND Co-chairperson said. “Together, they must break their silence – demand truth, justice, reparation, and guarantees of non-repetition – in order to break impunity,” she added.

According to the group, the event dubbed as “Libong Kandila at Panalangin para sa Libu-libong Biktima ng Karahasan” aims to remember victims, assert the truth about the human rights situation in the country, and urge the Duterte administration to stop perpetrating violence against the people.

“The government in the past few weeks denies that there are EJKs committed under the war on drugs.  We light thousands of candles to symbolize our assertion of the truth. Thousands were killed. Many innocent lives were wasted. Many of our fellow Filipinos witnessed rampant violations of due process under the bloody war on drugs.  Ano ang tawag mo sa patayan at karahasan ng pamahalaan? Paglabag ‘yan sa karapatang pantao,” pointed out Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP).

During the mass at the said gathering, Fr. Flaviano ‘Flavie’ Villanueva, SVD, Mission and JPIC Coordinator of SVD Central underscored the sanctity of life. “Ang bawat buhay ng tao ay nagmula sa Diyos. Dahil nagmula sa Kaniya, ang buhay ay sagrado. Ito’y dapat kalingain at pagyamanin. Ngunit kung ating babastusin, binabastos din natin ang Diyos.”

Last Updated on Friday, 03 November 2017 14:13
Oral Statement of Franciscans International at 36th Session of the U.N. HRC
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Wednesday, 27 September 2017 17:50

36th Session of the Human Rights Council

Agenda Item 6: UPR Adoption – Philippines

Oral Statement of Franciscans International

Delivered by: Sr Crescencia Lucero sfic


22 September 2017

Thank you Mr President,

Franciscans International, Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines and Task Force Detainees of the Philippines would like to express our concerns on the serious and deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines.

While UPR is expected to be a constructive engagement of state in improving their human rights situation of the state under review, the Government of Philippines fails to accept key recommendations such as cases of extrajudicial executions in the frame of government’s policy on war on drugs. The government also rejects to collaborate with other UN mechanism, especially the UN Special Procedures on Extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary execution for a country visit.

Mr President,

We express our grave concern on violent policies of the current government against its own people. Now we are experiencing the return of Presidential dictatorship and tyrannical ways of leadership, which we thought ended 31 years ago.  Due process and the rule of law are set aside for the poor and powerless while politicians charged with plunder are set free on bail. The war on drugs policies has indifferently killed more than 12 000 Filipinos, including innocent children. Most of victims are those coming from the poor and marginalized background.

We also observe the obsession of the government to apply Martial Law, as currently happens in Mindanao, which leads to more than 300’000 people being internally displaced.

We, human rights defenders, continue to receive threats from the government, as shown by the public statement of the President in  16 August,  who stated that those working on human rights should be shot by the police for ”obstructing justice”.  Recently, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David was threatened with an obstruction of justice charge by no less than the Department of Justice Secretary for giving sanctuary to witnesses in the Kian Loyd delos Santos killing.

Finally, we would like to strongly support the recent call from the Conference of the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines, "In the name of God, stop the killings! May the justice of God come upon those responsible for the killings!"  Justice and human rights have to be restored in the Philippines.  I thank you.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 September 2017 17:59
The Philippines Faces Barrage of Concerns at the UN Human Rights Council
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Friday, 09 June 2017 12:12
The Philippines Faces Barrage of Concerns at the UN Human Rights Council

forum_asia_logo(Bangkok/Geneva, 8 June 2017) – The Philippines faced international opprobrium on Wednesday at the UN Human Rights Council (Council) where 32 States jointly urged the Government to end extrajudicial killings and threats against human rights defenders. The joint statement, delivered by Iceland called on the Philippines to cooperate with human rights mechanisms by allowing the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions to visit the country without conditions, and to accept and implement the recommendations that it received during its Universal Periodic Review last May.

The statement followed a presentation by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, who expressed concern about personal threats and insults faced by the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, as a result of her work on the Philippines.

Despite a high level of international attention on the human rights situation in the Philippines, the Government has not taken any steps to address concerns. ‘The joint statement on the Philippines by the 32 States shows that there is sustained attention on the human rights situation in the country despite its repeated attempts to deny that there is a problem when defending its ‘war on drugs’ at international forums,’ says Rosanna Ocampo of the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA).
Last Updated on Friday, 09 June 2017 12:15
Human Rights Defenders to Government: Comply with UPR Recommendations -iDEFEND
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Monday, 22 May 2017 14:58
1_copyQuezon City- Human rights advocates today held a press conference to report on the events at the recently concluded UN Universal Periodic Review in Geneva. The UPR’s report on the Philippines has been received by the government, which has until September to respond formally to the body. In the interactive dialogue of the review, 95 delegations made statements following the presentation of the Philippine delegation. Most of them  focused on the need to put an end to, and investigate, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance, torture, human trafficking, and to stop efforts at reintroducing capital punishment and lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility. Recommendations also urged the government to allow the Special Rapporteur to conduct her investigation into the summary killings without conditions.

iDEFEND and PAHRA sent a team to Geneva to participate in UPR side events organized with regional and international NGO networks, as well as to conduct dialogues, public action and networking in conjunction with the UPR.

“As expected, government presented before the UPR a report blatantly denying state responsibility for more than 8,000 deaths under the war on drugs or that a surge of extrajudicial killings is happening. Government blamed media for exaggerating the number of deaths, the Special Rapporteur for being biased, and the Commission on Human Rights for changing the definition of extrajudicial killing” noted Ms. Nilda Sevilla, Chairperson of FIND (Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearances).
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