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Philippine groups give Marcos a “failing mark” on his first year as president

Human rights groups on Thursday gave President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. a failing grade ahead of his second State of the Nation Address. 

The groups claimed the Marcos administration has adopted the “repressive playbook” of former President Rodrigo Duterte that worsens the human rights situation in the country.

Nymia Pimentel-Simbulan, executive director of the Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights), said the first year of Marcos has “confirmed what many families of victims feared – that the ‘war on drugs’ would continue and that the justice-seeking efforts of families left behind would be thwarted.” 

The groups said the first full year of Marcos Jr. has been “characterized by a wave of repression and violence, reminiscent of his father’s and his predecessor’s regime”.

Recently, the International Criminal Court (ICC) denied the plea of the Philippine government to stop the investigation into Duterte’s alleged crimes against humanity.

Rommel Yamzon, secretary general of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), said the government’s “continuous attempt to block the investigation and eventual prosecution of former President Duterte are signs of desperation.” 

He said the state of human rights in the country is declining with numerous cases of attacks against human rights defenders and activists.

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Yamzon also said that there is a “lack of judicial independence” and “shrinking civic space,” which affect not just activists, but also lawyers, trade unionists, indigenous peoples, and others “who speak up against the government”. 

In the latest report of PhilRights, it said that Duterte’s war on drugs campaign “has precipitated a full-blown human rights crisis that furthered a climate of impunity, injustice, and fear.” 

“This crisis is still ongoing,” said Simbulan. “Marcos Jr.’s first year in office has been a disaster for democracy and human rights, with civilians bearing the brunt of living under an increasingly repressive regime.” 

According to rights group Karapatan, at least 60 political activists have been killed from July 2022 to June 2023 while eight individuals were victims of enforced disappearances. 

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