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From Our Member Korean House for International Solidarity, South Korea – Joint Statement: President Duterte must stop the extra-judicial killings and repression against the Philippines civil society

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President Duterte must stop the extra-judicial killings and repression against the Philippines civil society.

Korean government must purse New Southern Policy(NSP) based on the principles of democracy and human rights.
Korea NGO’s stance on the visit to Republic of Korea by President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte who ignores democracy and human rights.

4 June 2018

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Republic of the Philippines officially visited Korea at the invitation of President Moon Jae-in. Cheong Wa Dae (the Blue House) said that through this visit, the two leaders deepened their friendship and will pursue the New Southern Policy (NSP) in full scale. Korea NGOs regret the fact that the first summit of ASEAN member to visit Korea after the government’s inauguration of President Moon was President Duterte, the one who ignores democracy and human rights. Korea NGOs strongly demand President Duterte to stop extra-judicial killings and all-round suppression against their civil society. Also, in order for the NSP, which the Korean government intended to pursue through the visit of President Duterte, to build a community including the true meanings of “People∙Peace∙Prosperity”, we hope the relevant policies be established and implemented under the principles of democracy and human rights.

President Duterte is a person who is greatly concerned by the international community for his actions of ignoring the values of democracy and human rights. President Duterte proclaimed “War on Drugs” shortly after his inauguration and authorized the police to execute a summary sentence of 4,075 people. (According to the government figures, as of March 2018) However, international human rights organizations estimate that if vigilante activities are included, more than 13,000 people, three times more than the government’s figure, resulted in extra-judicial killings. In them 74 children are included. This is a serious crimes against humanity which International Criminal Court (ICC) can launch investigation and international communities including the UN are highly concerned. Nevertheless, President Duterte recently disregarded the criticisms of international communities for his extra-judicial killings and approved the resumption of crackdown on drug users. He also declared withdrawal from the ICC and claimed that “the ICC is no longer able to investigate or exercise jurisdiction over shot downs of drug suspects.”

The suppression against the civil society is also continuing. President Duterte publicly threatened to ‘kill’ or ‘cut off the head’ of the human rights defenders who criticized the regime, while recently making a stubborn claim that the reason human rights organizations are persistently criticizing the “war on drugs” is because they are receiving funding from the drug lord. KARAPATAN, a Philippine human rights organization, sent a letter to UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, saying that 474 human rights defenders were killed during Arroyo presidency (2001-2010), 139 during Aquino presidency (2010-2016), and already 33 have been killed since President Duterte came to power in July 2016. The annual report of the international human rights group Front Line Defenders also said that 80 percent of last year’s death case on human rights defenders occurred in 4 countries, Philippines, Brazil, Cambodia, and Mexico.

In particular, the oppression against farmers, indigenous people, and activists who are trying to protect their inherited land and resources is a serious situation. The International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs(IWGIA) said that every month two people are being killed since the inauguration of President Duterte in 2016 due to his extra-judicial killings and just in 2017, 41 were killed. IWGIA also evaluated that the government is regularly threatening or abusing an increasing number of its residents. Indeed, an NGO called PAN (the Pesticide Action Network) pointed the Philippines as the country where the indigenous people were most victimized last year. Meanwhile, the Philippine Ministry of Justice has included the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People on the ‘terrorist’ list.

In these ways, the suppression of human rights by the Duterte regime is continuing and President Duterte continues to ignore, mock and even threaten the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP), local and international NGOs, and UN human rights institutions who criticize his actions. This is rapidly retreating democracy and human rights in the Philippines. The Philippine government should immediately stop its extra-judicial killings and the President and other senior officials must stop inciting or encouraging such murder. It should also undertake an immediate and fair investigation of all suspected illegal killings and fully ensure the investigation and activities of the international organizations, including UN. All-round threats and oppression against civil society should also be ceased immediately.

Also, the Korean government should not ignore the voice of the Philippines civil society, who calls out for concerns and protests over President Duterte’s violence. They should also be clearly aware of the fact that Korea Official Development Assistance (ODA), which is expanding to the whole of ASEAN and definitely including the Philippines, is taking place where a serious abandonment of human rights is happening. If the Korean government does not firmly declare the principle of democracy and human rights, the expansion of Korean enterprises’ investigation and ODA projects may ultimately cause the citizens of the partner countries to suffer. In that sense, it is essential for the ODA projects such as the following two to be reviewed under the principle of democracy and human rights.

▷ “Project for Enhancing Criminal Investigation Capability of the Philippines National Police” by National Police Agency and Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) – A project proceeding without sufficient consideration about the situation of human rights abuses by the Philippine police who are corrupted and abuse their power.

▷ “Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project Stage Ⅱ” by Economic Development Cooperation Fund(EDCF), an affiliated organization of The Export-Import Bank of Korea – A project that is taking away the rights of the indigenous people and is lacking procedural feasibility such as violation of Philippine domestic law.

In order not to be criticized for the NSP’s slogan “People∙Peace∙Prosperity” for being a mere slogan, hatred and discrimination against immigrants which is pervasive in Korean society should be eliminated first. We should look back at the human rights situation for migrants in Korea and establish and implement a policy that puts ‘People’ first. Also, the slogan ‘Peace’ of NSP should not be exploited to secure the basis for military aid or Korean arms exports. In addition, we should not consider ASEAN as a mere investment area but be aware of the exploitation of labor and violation of human rights caused by Korean enterprises in the ASEAN regions so that Korea and ASEAN can coexist and prosper. With the visit by President Duterte, the Korean government should establish NSP based on the principles of democracy and human rights.

Initial Signatories

Buddhism Human Rights Committee
Catholic Human Rights Committee
DASAN Human Rights Center
Geochang Peace and Human Rights Art Festival Commission
GongGam Human Rights Law Foundation
Gwang-Ju Human Rights Center ‘Hwal JJak’
Human Rights Center SARAM
Imagination and Activity solidarity for Women with Disabilities “Ma_sil”
Jeju Peace Human rights Center
Jeju peace human rights institute WHAT
Korean Gay Men’s Human Rights Group ‘Chingusai’
Korean House for International Solidarity
Korean Lawyers for Public Interest and Human Rights
Korean Progressive Network ‘Jinbonet’
MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society International Solidarity Committee
Naya Education Center for The Human Rights of the Disabled
Palestine Peace & Solidarity in South Korea
People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy
Protesting against Poverty & Discrimination Solidarity for Human Right
SARANGBANG Group for Human Rights
Seogyo Institute for Humanities&social science
Social and Labor Committee of Jogye order of Korean Buddhism
Solidarity against Disability Discrimination
Solidarity for Peace & Human Rights
Transitional Justice Working Group