MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Hundreds of people marched in the Philippine capital on Saturday to protest what they said was a rise in extrajudicial executions and other injustices under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. .
The protesters, led by a Philippines-based rights group, gathered in a public square in Manila before marching to the presidential palace to demand justice for the victims. Police estimated around 800 protesters took part in the rally, which coincided with International Human Rights Day.
Cristina Palabay of rights group Karapatan said that as part of the Marcos administration’s counter-insurgency campaign, the group has documented at least 17 cases of extrajudicial executions in addition to four other incidents of violence where victims have survived.
The number of political prisoners continues to rise, with 828 detained as of November 30, Palabay said, noting that at least 25 of them were arrested after Marcos took office in June.
“Despite these sordid numbers, no justice has been served for the victims of extrajudicial executions,” Palabay said in a statement. “The culture of impunity continues to emerge.”
Organizers said protesters in Manila and other parts of the country included families of activists who disappeared or were tortured during the administration of Marcos’ father and namesake, toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos, as well as victims of human rights under former President Rodrigo Duterte, whose brutal war on drugs is being investigated by the International Criminal Court after killing thousands.
The dictator was ousted in a military-backed “people power” revolt in 1986 and died three years later in exile in the United States without admitting any wrongdoing, including accusations that he, his family and other associates reportedly amassed between $5 billion and $10 billion. he was in power.
“We come together as the families of victims of different regimes and presidents… We have made it a point that every International Human Rights Day calls for justice and we pledge not to allow that the same violations happen to others,” Evangeline Hernandez, president of a human rights victims’ group, said in a statement.
Karapatan said the current administration is also increasing the use of anti-terrorism laws to suppress dissent and restrict freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of association.
Palabay called on the international human rights community to step up processes to ensure justice is served, especially for the thousands of victims of extrajudicial executions.