Philippines: Arrest of leading Duterte critic is a worrying step-up in political repression

Responding to the arrest of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV in the Philippines, Minar Pimple, Senior Director for Global Operations at Amnesty International, said:

“Senator Trillanes is one of the most vocal and persistent members of the opposition and has consistently challenged the government's so-called 'war on drugs'.

This arrest is a worrying sign that the government will stop at nothing to silence its critics and divert attention from ongoing human rights violations by the authorities.
Minar Pimple, Amnesty International’s Senior Director of Global Operations

“This arrest is a worrying sign that the government will stop at nothing to silence its critics and divert attention from ongoing human rights violations by the authorities.

“The arrest of Senator Trillanes follows the imprisonment of another opponent of President Duterte, Senator Leila de Lima, who is a prisoner of conscience and remains in detention on politically motivated charges, after more than a year. It is time the government stopped its crackdown on peaceful critics and put an end to human rights violations.”

Background

A leading critic of the Duterte administration and the unlawful killings of thousands of mostly poor and marginalized people, perpetrated in its ‘war on drugs’, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV was today served with an arrest warrant in relation to charges of ‘rebellion’ dating from 2003 and 2007. He received an amnesty in 2011 from President Benigno Aquino III. President Duterte revoked this amnesty in an official proclamation earlier this month.

Activists and civil society organizations face intense intimidation and obstruction in their attempts to do human rights work. The President himself has previously threatened to ‘behead’ and ‘kill’ human rights defenders who criticize his administration and has repeatedly signaled he would target Senator Trillanes.