Manila, Jul 23 (EFE).- Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged the new president of the Philippines to show his “serious commitment” to human rights during the annual State of the Nation address, scheduled for Monday.
Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who was sworn in on June 30 after sweeping the May 9 election, is set to deliver his first speech to the country, in which he is expected to present some of the policies and programs he will promote during his six years in office.
HRW said Marcos, son of dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda, has an opportunity to distance himself from “the rampant rights violations and deep-seated impunity” of the last administration of Rodrigo Duterte, who waged a bloody war on drugs between 2016 and 2022.
“President Marcos has a golden opportunity to get the Philippines on the right track by setting out clear priorities and policies to improve human rights in the country,” said Phil Robertson, HRW’s deputy Asia director, in a recent statement.
“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.”
Robertson also called for the release and withdrawal of charges against one of Duterte’s biggest critics and former senator Leila de Lima, as well as a commitment to upholding press freedom after a campaign of judicial harassment against media outlets critical of the former president, among them journalist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa and her news website Rappler.
“Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has become president of a country riven by human rights problems and overlaid with a systematic failure to hold abusers accountable and ensure justice for victims,” Robertson said.
“His nationwide address should be all about how he will protect the rights of all Filipinos, and right past wrongs.”
The current president has not referred directly to the human rights violations perpetrated by his father’s government, which in 1972 declared martial law during which at least 3,250 people are believed to have been killed and thousands tortured and imprisoned until it was lifted in 1981.
Marcos Sr., elected president in 1965, 1969 and 1981, left the country in 1986 when a peaceful revolution triumphed against him, and he died in exile in Hawaii in 1989.
The Marcos clan is also accused of looting billions of dollars from public funds. EFE