HK protesters decry deteriorating human rights situation in PH
HONG KONG—Filipino activists in Hong Kong took to the streets on Thursday to denounce President Duterte for the deteriorating rights situation in the Philippines and for his failure to fulfill his promises, including creating more jobs to bring his migrant countrymen back home.
Mr. Duterte visited Hong Kong to meet with members of the Filipino community in the Chinese special administrative region.
The activists, joined by members of the Hong Kong Campaign for the Advancement of Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines, denounced the President for the killings in his brutal war on drugs, as well as his “rising tyranny and dictatorship.”
“You are not welcome in Hong Kong,” said Lee Cheuk Yan, a former Hong Kong legislator and a member of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions. “We in Hong Kong do not want any mass murderer.”
Lee compared Mr. Duterte to the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Eman Villanueva, chair of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Hong Kong and Macau, said the group wanted to send the government the message that migrant Filipino workers are frustrated at his failure to deliver on his campaign promises.
“Many had pinned their hopes on his promise to send the [migrant workers] back to the Philippines, but what we heard is even those who were sent back home [from] Kuwait [could not] be given new jobs and were asked to go to China and Russia,” Villanueva said.
He also said the Duterte administration was not solving problems with labor recruitment agencies, while his group had learned that Mr. Duterte had met with the representatives of recruiters in Hong Kong.
“So who is the President working for? Filipinos or these recruiters?” Villanueva said.
Drug war killings
He said the rally was also intended to send the message that even Filipinos outside the country were opposed to the killings in the drug war taking place back home, as well as disregard for human rights, the rule of law and checks and balances in the Duterte administration.
“We are worried. We do not see the situation back home improving. In fact, it is worsening. What we see is that only the poor are being targeted in the government’s war on drugs. But the big-time syndicates, drug dealers are not being punished,” he said.
Villanueva, however, acknowledged that Mr. Duterte still enjoyed strong support among overseas Filipinos. But this, he said, is typical of most Presidents in their first few years in office.
But it is not enough that the President is popular, he said.
“His popularity cannot feed the people,” Villanueva said.
Neither can it hide the deteriorating situation in the country, he added.
Migrant workers cannot be fooled for long, he said.
Many of the overseas Filipinos may have been taken in by the propaganda and fake news that abound on social media, which is their main source of information about what is happening in the Philippines, Villanueva said.
“But eventually, the real situation [will] emerge,” he said.
“If our countrymen see that the economic situation is deteriorating, the democratic institutions are under attack, rights are not being respected, at the end of the day they still can’t get enough food and they have to leave the country, the administration cannot cover these up even if they invent five Mocha Usons,” he added.
More than 220,000 Filipinos work in Hong Kong, many as maids.
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