Human rights activists and government critics said the failure of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to address human rights issues and the “drug war” killings of the previous administration in his first State of the Nation Address was “a very disturbing sign.”
“When there’s eerie silence on these issues, we surmise that there are no significant shifts in the draconian policies of the previous administration,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of rights group Karapatan.
Renato Reyes of Bayan Muna described it as “a very disturbing sign.”
In his speech, Marcos focused on pressing economic issues following the pandemic but failed to mention the alleged excesses of the previous administration, his unpaid taxes, and the ill-gotten wealth of his family.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said Marcos should have demonstrated a “serious commitment to human rights” in his first State of the Nation Address, saying it could have been “a golden opportunity” to get the Philippines on the right track by setting out clear priorities and policies.
“After six years of Duterte’s disastrous ‘drug war’ that killed thousands of people, Marcos needs to make a clean break by showing he is serious about accountability for past human rights violations as well as preventing abuses in the future,” said Robertson.
The Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto vowed they would continue to fight for justice under the Marcos administration on behalf of the hundreds of human rights abuse victims and survivors during the years of martial law.
Citing a report from Amnesty International, the group said at least 3,257 extrajudicial killings, 35,000 documented tortures, 77 victims of enforced disappearances, and 70,000 incarcerations happened during the height of the dictatorship of Marcos’ father and namesake.