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From our member PAHRA, the Philippines – Statement: We will not be silenced

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We will not be silenced by the disinformation being orchestrated by the Duterte government to stifle dissent.

The recent report made by Philippine News Agency (PNA), citing the revocation of the registration of the six non-government organizations including the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for its non-compliance, is nothing but a deliberate, manipulative and malicious attempt to discredit human rights groups from challenging the recently-issued SEC Memorandum Circular No. 15 last November 8, 2018. The PNA report failed to mention that PAHRA after its dissolution in 2003 had filed and secured a new SEC registration in 2010 (CN201007182, May 14) and has been compliant with the SEC requirements ever since.

We will not be silenced by this new SEC regulation which is no doubt part of the mounting repressive schemes to threaten and attack NGOs perceived critical of the Duterte government. PAHRA together with other human rights groups has been raising its concern that such arbitrary regulation will be used as bases for political witch-hunting and red-tagging that can further constrict the democratic space for civil society participation under the present political dispensation. If implemented, it will provide the government agency sweeping powers to shut down non-government organizations by assessing and monitoring the NGOs with their own risk assessment under the guise of supposedly protecting them from money laundering and terrorist financing abuse.

We will not be silenced by President Rodrigo Duterte, who has openly expressed his authoritarian tendencies with the move for term extension under the proposed Charter Change, the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao and the continuing attack on democratic institutions like the Commission on Human Rights and Ombudsman. He has not spared the human rights groups from vilification for criticizing his bloody war against drugs policy and even ordered the police to shoot them on sight.

We will not be silenced by any effort of the Duterte government to curtail our freedom of association. PAHRA is committed to defending this fundamental right as the foundation of civil society’s democratic participation. We cannot allow President Rodrigo Duterte to go unopposed, and uncriticized. We will continuously fight to protect our human rights and dignity. We have marched in the streets against the Marcos regime and the succeeding governments for years to preserve the democracy that we have. And we will continue to do so as our hard-fought democratic space, with all its frailties withal, is worth fighting for.

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