Hundreds of Filipinos marked Human Rights Day on Saturday with street protests against the Duterte administration’s bloody war against illegal drugs.
Around 400 protesters gathered in Mendiola, Manila to call on President Rodrigo Duterte to put a stop to the killings in the Philippines. Similar rallies are being held in some provinces, such as General Santos City in South Cotabato.
This is as a total of 5,882 people have been killed across the country since Duterte launched his drug war, according to police data.
Mendiola protesters used creative signs to vent their anger at the alleged extra-judicial killings and the pending congressional proposal to revive the death penalty, among other issues.
Some signs read, “Heal, don’t harm,” “Bigas, hindi bala (Rice, not bullets)” and “Buhay, hindi bitay (Life, not death penalty).”
Rallyists also displayed a dummy covered in duct tape with a placard which said, “Si Digong ang dahilan, huwag tularan (Duterte is the reason, don’t imitate him),” a play on the signs usually placed on slain suspects, warning people against selling or using drugs.
Protesters likewise used black parols to symbolize a “dark Christmas” for Filipino families because of the alleged human rights abuses.
United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association Maina Kiai was also in Mendiola for the event.
However, Kiai said that he was not there on official capacity, and only wanted to observe how Filipinos initiate social change through peaceful protests.
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Protesters from different groups across the metro are expected to converge at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City later in the day for a concert that will last until midnight.- With reports from Primy Cane.
President of the Philippines Duterte
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