Freedom of Expression in the Philippines remains to be under attack, a déjà vu of the Marcos and Duterte regimes. The initial findings of UNSR Irene Khan attest that the state of Freedom of Expression is not in any way better than the previous administration. Violence and harassment continue more than a year into the Marcos Jr. regime.
This context chills down freedom of expression and opinion as indigenous women human rights defenders are regularly subjected to red-tagging, harassment, and intimidation. As Marcos administration continues the corporate-driven development framework that treats indigenous peoples’ ancestral lands and natural resources as commodities, issues of discrimination, violence, land grabbing, displacement and killings are unabated. Indigenous women suffer from government neglect and are left with only their voices to speak and shed light on the situation. The denial of that opportunity is an upfront violation of human rights.
Politically motivated attacks occur against a backdrop of impunity, with indigenous people disproportionately bearing the brunt of injustices. Indigenous women human rights defenders are forced to uproot their lives and the lives of their families for their security.
Media workers and journalists are no exception. The killing of four journalists and an astounding 84 incidents of attacks on the media since the start of his administration is a stark contrast to what Marcos Jr. boasts to be a “vibrant media landscape and civic space” for human rights.
Truth will out with such incidents piled on top of harassment, intimidation, and attacks on freedom of expression and opinion still yet to be brought justice since Duterte came into power in 2016.
LILAK clamors for the institutionalization of legislative safeguards such as the Human Rights Defenders Protection Act and the Anti-Red Tagging Bill. We support the recommendations forwarded by the Special Rapporteur, especially the abolition of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) as it is the institution that perpetuates red-tagging and state harassment in indigenous communities.
It is high time we realize our freedoms and protect those who fight to defend them. As UNSR Khan had said in her press briefing after her two-week mission in the Philippines, “without freedom of expression, you cannot enjoy political, economic, social, and cultural rights.”
#DefendPressFreedom #AbolishNTFELCAC #JunkATL