Philippines: Slanderous comments against human rights NGOs

Urgent Appeal

PHL 002 / 0318 / OBS 034
Smear campaign
March 28, 2018

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the Philippines.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about slanderous comments made by two high-level Government officials against human rights non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the Philippines.

According to the information received, on March 26, 2018, President Duterte’s Spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement that the Government did not “discount the possibility that some human rights groups ha[d] become unwitting tools of drug lords to hinder the strides made by the administration”, as “the attacks against the President’s war on drugs have been vicious and non-stop”. He added that “to continue to do and thrive in the drug business, these drug lords can easily use their drug money to fund destabilisation efforts against the Government”.

The statement was issued after Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano claimed on March 25, 2018 that some human rights groups were being unwittingly used by drug lords to destabilize the Governmentand discredit its war on drugs.

On March 27, 2018, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency(PDEA) Spokesman Derrick Carreon said the agency would “dig further” into the supposed links between human rights organisations and drug lords. Mr. Carreonadded that the agency was not discounting the possibility that drug lords were using critics to attack the Government’s war on drugs.

The Observatory strongly condemns the above-mentioned statements against human rights organisations in the Philippines, which take place in the context of a surge of attacks against human rights defenders under President Duterte [1].

The Observatory recalls that President Duterte himself has repeatedly threatened to kill human rights defenders who criticize the alleged extrajudicial killings committed by police and vigilantes as part of his Government’s “war on drugs”. For instance, on August 16, 2017, he suggested that human rights activists were “obstructing justice” and urged police to “shoot them”.

The Observatory considers that such statements manifestly aim at discrediting and hindering the peaceful and legitimate human rights activities of human rights defenders andput their lives and safety at risk.

The Observatory calls upon the authorities of the Philippines to guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in the Philippines and to put an end to defamation and harassment against them, in line with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the General Assembly on December 9, 1998.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in the Philippines, urging them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in the Philippines;

ii. Recognise that human rights defenders play a legitimate role in ensuring peace, justice, and democracy;

iii. Put an end to any harassment against all human rights defenders in the Philippines, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular with Articles 1 and 12.2;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by the Philippines.


· H.E. Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Republic of the Philippines, Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968, E-mail: or send message through
· Hon. Jesus Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Fax: +63 (2) 638 2216, Email:,
· Ret. Maj. Gen. Delfin Lorenzana, Secretary, Department of National Defense, Fax: +63(2) 982-5600, Email:,
· Hon. Vitaliano Aguirre, Secretary, Department of Justice, Fax: (+632) 521-1614, Email:
· Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon, Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights, Fax: (+632) 929 0102, Email:
· H.E. Mr. Evan P. Garcia, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 716 19 32 Email:
· Embassy of the Philippines in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: (+32) 02 345 64 25, E-mail:

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of the Philippines located in your country.

Geneva-Paris, March 28, 2018

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail:
• Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
• Tel and fax FIDH: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

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