On 5th Anniversary, ICHRP-US Calls for Continued Resistance and Solidarity to Mobilize in Full Force Against US Support of the Marcos Dynasty!

Since our founding on December 9th, 2017, ICHRP-US has tirelessly campaigned to build solidarity support for the Filipino people’s aspirations for just and lasting peace. While the civil war in the country rages on between the National Democratic Front and the Government of the Philippines, political repression of activists has worsened and the struggle with poverty has intensified.

Over the past five years, people all over the U.S. — from Hawaii, Portland, Seattle, Northern & Southern California, Chicago & the midwest, Washington DC, Baltimore, New Jersey and New York, Pennsylvania have joined together to form an active solidarity movement in support of people’s collective rights in the Philippines. We have conducted hundreds of lobby visits, mobilized in the streets across the world, sent solidarity delegations to the Philippines and hosted speaking tours of Filipino unionists, church leaders and bishops, human rights defenders, indigenous and environmental activists. ICHRP-US has successfully mobilized solidarity support through campaigns to support of the Lumad people, to cut US military support to the Philippines, to defend the rights of peace activists and to oppose the unlawful and illegitimate red-tagging and harassment of activists. ICHRP-US has further raised awareness of the real situation on the ground in the country through participation in ICHRP Global projects such as the 2018 International People’s Tribunal, Investigate PH and the 2022 International Observers Mission. Below is a series of photos depicting major highlights of work since our first General Assembly in December 2017.

ICHRP members and supporters at December 2017 launch of ICHRP-US hold action to expose US culpability in Duterte’s killings
ICHRP-US Chairperson Pam Tau Lee speaks at Stop the Killings Rally in Los Angeles in 2018
Hawaii Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines at the 2019 Friendship & Learning Tour in the Philippines
Rep Susan Wild speaks at House Triangle on National Day of Action for the Philippine Human Rights Act
ICHRP Global Council Member Sadie Stone and Brandon Lee Rally at Philippine Consulate in San Francisco
ICHRP-US National Coordinator Drew Miller speaks at rally opposing Biden meeting with Marcos Jr in September 2022
Members of Kalikasan Solidarity Organization, a member of ICHRP-US protest President Biden during visit to Portland Or, demanding a stop to US Support of the Marcos Dynasty

The Current Situation

Today, the Filipino people face an unparalleled economic crisis at the hands of the Marcos Jr. regime. The value of the Philippine peso is at an all time low, public debt has hit record highs, workers are struggling with low wages that are merely half the amount needed for an average size family, and increasing inflation continues to impact the poorest and most vulnerable people.  Farmers in the countryside are facing increasing rates of poverty and lack of access to land, while super typhoons and other disasters continue to ravage communities already facing severe government neglect.

Human rights violations have only continued since Marcos Jr. took office, as he intends to uphold Duterte’s fascist policies such as the Anti-Terror Law and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to sow more fear and attacks against critics of the government. Poor peasants, indigenous leaders, journalists, trade unionists and human rights defenders continue to face politically motivated attacks in the form of illegal arrest, cruel torture and detention, and even killings. Since Marcos Jr. took office there have been 29 attacks against workers, aerial bombings waged by the AFP in Bukidnon, and an entire community on Negros Island placed under military lockdown without access to food and diapers for their children. The AFP continues to commit international war crimes, with the recent murder of NDF Peace Consultant Ericson Acosta after he was captured while consulting on the situation of farm workers in Southern Negros.

Meanwhile, US Vice President Kamala Harris recently returned from a visit to the Philippines where she met with President Marcos Jr. and other government officials to  reaffirm the partnership between the US and the Philippines. The outcomes of their meetings include further economic investments in the Philippines and reaffirmation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement to pave the way for future deployment of more US military troops to the Philippines. We must expose and resist the US pursuit of hegemony and dominance in the Asia Pacific region at the expense of workers, farmers, indigenous peoples and all exploited and oppressed people in the Philippines. Let us continue to mobilize people in the US to unite in solidarity with the Filipino people in advancing the struggle for people’s rights and rejecting US support of the Marcos Dynasty!

Call to Action 

Despite the widespread protests and reports on the severe human rights crisis in the country, the Biden administration’s policy towards the Philippines continues to prioritize US economic and military pursuits over human rights. 

We are outraged at President Biden’s pursuit of US hegemony and dominance in the Asia Pacific region at the expense of workers, farmers, indigenous, and all exploited and oppressed people in the Philippines. We are further dismayed at Biden’s ongoing military funding of the Philippine government while people in the US continue to suffer from the ongoing impacts of the Covid pandemic and face insufficient wages, food and housing insecurity, mental health crisis, police brutality, lack of access to health care, and increasing inequality between rich and poor. We are therefore resolute in our solidarity with the people of the Philippines.

We issue the following demands to the Biden Administration

  1. Hold the Marcos regime accountable for the repression of labor activists and defend the right to unionize
  2. Give due justice to the victims of Martial Law and uphold the contempt of court case against Marcos, revoking his immunity as the head of state of the Philippines
  3. Halt US aid to the Philippine military and police by passing the Philippine Human Rights Act, and to halt all future arms sales to the Philippines
  4. Hold the Duterte Regime responsible for it’s egregious crimes against humanity and ensure justice and accountability for the victims of state terrorism
  5. Halt US corporate operations impacting climate change and resulting in the eradication of biodiverse ecosystems and the violation, harassment, and displacement of Indigenous peoples
  6. Delist the CPP-NPA from the US terror list in support of the peace process in the Philippines

While we will continue to make demands of the US government it is ultimately the people who are the decisive force in creating genuine change in society. As we move forward after 5 years of experience of organizing, we must be persistent and unrelenting in our solidarity. We call upon people in the United States to continue mobilizing the broadest solidarity support to advance the struggle for peoples’ rights in the Philippines and to reject US Support of the Marcos Dynasty!

Harris Visit to Philippines another Example of US Prioritization of Power over Human Rights

From November 20-22nd, Vice President Kamala Harris visited the Philippines in a US effort to “revive ties” with Manila. Harris’ visit follows the announcement of US Ambassador to the Philippines, MaryKay Carlson, promising $100 million in foreign military financing to the Philippines. ICHRP-US strongly stands against the continued financing and support of the AFP and PNP by the Biden Administration, as they are being rewarded for their continued human rights violations against the Filipino people instead of being held accountable. 

During her visit, Harris met with a human rights lawyer and a LGBTQIA+ advocate, a member of a network fighting against child labor and exploitation, a labor leader, and a journalist. Some of Harris’ guests were red-tagged in their course of standing up for their advocacies. Harris told them: “So when I think about the fight for human rights, I think about it in the context of what it requires for the fighters. And one of the things that requires is that you remember, you are not alone,” One report saw this as “an act of solidarity.” 

On the 21st, however, protestors rallied in Manila against the visit by Harris. Liza Maza, an official of the International League of People’s Struggle said, “We don’t want our country to be used as a pin board or launching pad of the wars of the United States again China or any other country. Raymond Palatino of BAYAN said that Harris’ visit “is harmful because her agenda include additional aid for the military.” 

The concerns of the protestors call into question Harris’ so-called gesture of solidarity in telling human rights defenders in the Philippines “you are not alone.” During the trip, Harris also told President Marcos, “We stand with you in defense of international rules and norms as it relates to the South China Sea. An armed attack on Philippine armed forces, vessels, or aircrafts … would invoke U.S. mutual defense commitments.”  

Instead of focusing on military might, Harris should demand accountability and justice for Brandon Lee and other victims of violence by the government. Marcos and Duterte continue and intensify a bloody war against the peasants in the countryside, whose work provides food for the people. The ongoing military campaign of aerial bombings, killings, fly-by strafing, staged surrenders, and forced evacuations are funded by US support for and will only lead more deaths and abuse of more and more farmers, the workers, the youth, the fisherfolk, the indigenous communities. 

Meanwhile, the intensive counterinsurgency efforts of the Philippine government continues to operate outside the Philippines and directly in the United States. As noted in a recent statement of BAYAN-USA, the Philippine government is currently conducting a “Special Mission Project”  Filipino community in DC, Virginia, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. 

The main speakers on the tour collude with state agents – the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. They claim to be peace advocates, but red-tag individuals and organizations working for freedom and democracy in the Philippines. This leads to harming human rights defenders, labor unions, peasant associations and land rights. The cost of these tours take money away that should provide essential services for Filipinos in the Philippines.   

ICHRP-US believes in meaningful solidarity that holds the Philippine and United States governments accountable for crimes against the Filipino people. We must continue to stand in genuine solidarity with the Filipino people who are working for a truly democratic and sovereign Philippines. We must continue to lobby Congress to pass the Philippines Human Rights Act to hold the AFP and PNP for their continued crimes against the Filipino people. 

Demands to President Biden On Human Rights in the Philippines

Sign the open letter here: https://tinyurl.com/ICHRPLettertoBiden

Following the devastating impacts of the Rodrigo Duterte regime on human rights in the Philippines, the Filipino people continue to face ongoing crisis and gross human rights violations under the regime of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Despite the widespread protests and reports on the severe human rights crisis in the country, the Biden administration’s policy towards the Philippines continues to prioritize US economic and military pursuits over human rights. 

We are outraged at President Biden’s pursuit of US hegemony and dominance in the Asia Pacific region at the expense of workers, farmers, indigenous, and all exploited and oppressed people in the Philippines. We are further dismayed at Biden’s ongoing military funding of the Philippine government while people in the US continue to suffer from the ongoing impacts of the Covid pandemic and face insufficient wages, food and housing insecurity, mental health crisis, police brutality, lack of access to health care, and increasing inequality between rich and poor. We are therefore resolute in our solidarity with the people of the Philippines.

We issue the following demands to the Biden Administration:

To hold the Marcos regime accountable for the repression of labor activists and defend the right to unionize. 

On October 10, labor organizers Kara Taggaoa (KMU International Officer) and Larry Valbuena (PASADA-PISTON President) were indiscriminately arrested by the Quezon City Police on trumped up charges of direct assault. They were arrested before a warrant was even presented.

Kara Taggaoa is a labor rights organizer and was very active in fighting for the demands of workers’ organizations who were gravely affected by the pandemic. Larry Valbuena fought against the jeepney phaseout and against oil price hikes.

The unfounded charges against and arrests of Taggaoa and Valbuena is reflective of the rampant exploitation of workers in the Philippines. The Philippines is one of the worst countries in the world for workers. Union members are particularly at risk of violence, intimidation and murder according to the International Trade Union Confederation.

In his speech to Asia Society, Marcos Jr. touted one of the main reasons to invest in the Philippines as “human capital” due to a young, English speaking workforce. Marcos’ clamor for investment, much like his father’s, will further pad the wealthy while exploiting workers who already suffer low wages and police surveillance and repression for unionization. 

To give due justice to the victims of Martial Law and uphold the contempt of court case against Marcos, revoking his immunity as the head of state of the Philippines. 

In April 1986, victims of Ferdinand Marcos Sr Martial Law and Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) led the filing of a class-action suit on behalf of about 10,000 plaintiffs against Marcos in US courts, which eventually made a ruling in favor of the victims. The courts found that Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos “fraudulently diverted enormous sums of money that belonged to the Philippine Government and the Government of the United States, which money was intended for the benefit of the Philippine people.”

Now, Marcos Jr. currently faces a contempt of court case in the United States worth $353 million. Despite the heinous crimes of the underlying case, the United States affirmed Marcos Jr. diplomatic immunity making him free to enter the United States without arrest. This decision on the part of the United States is not only a slap in the face to victims of Martial Law, but also obscures the role of the U.S. in the financial, military and political support it provided Marcos Sr. 

To halt US aid to the Philippine military and police by passing the Philippine Human Rights Act, and to halt all future arms sales to the Philippines. 

Despite well-documented and ongoing human rights violations, the US government continues to funnel millions of dollars in aid to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP), who are the main perpetrators of human rights abuses. 

In their initial meeting in New York, Marcos Jr. raised with Biden the importance of the US role in bringing “peace and stability in the Asia Pacific” and expressed his appreciation of military agreements like AUKUS and QUAD. Meanwhile, the US maintains unequal treaties with the Philippines such as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and Enhanced Defense Coordination Agreement (EDCA) which gives US troops impunity and access to military bases across the archipelago, as well giving the US military oversight on Philippine operations, and hundreds of joint operations. These treaties allow the US to use the Philippines as a base to further its interests in the Pacific, positioning personnel and arms in bases across the many islands. What this means for the Filipino people is hot-spots of abuse, prostitution, and murder around military bases such as seen in the the case of murdered trans woman Jennifer Laude, murdered by US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton murdered her in 2014 near Subic Bay. 

While the US and Marcos continue to work together around military aid and agreements, human rights violations and impunity continue to happen at the hands of the Philippine military and police. 

To hold the Duterte Regime responsible for it’s egregious crimes against humanity and ensure justice & accountability for the victims of state terrorism

Marcos Jr. has insisted that the Philippines will not rejoin the International Criminal Court while the ICC continues its investigation of the Philippines and former President Duterte’s war on drugs. Without justice and accountability for the thousands of victims of Martial Law and a thorough investigation into the crimes against humanity committed by the Marcos and Duterte regimes, political dynasties in the Philippines will continue to operate with impunity.

Brandon Lee, the first known US citizen targeted in an assassination under the Duterte regime, is one among thousands whose perpetrators have not been tried, foremost amongst them Duterte himself, who promoted the lawless violence of the military and police. 

We urge for further accountability and the use of Magnitsky Sanctions against the following: 

Architects of the war on drugs and campaign of state terror (Ronald “Bato” De La Rosa); the command-and-control structure of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines when rights violations by state institutions allegedly took place (Gen. Diebold Sinas, General Jose Faustino Jr., General Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr, Delfin Negrillo Lorenzana  and Genral Eduardo Año); and the infrastructure of terror in the Duterte regime and participated in the public orchestration of alleged state repression (Bong Go, Harry Roque, Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert and Lorraine Badoy). 

To halt US corporate operations impacting climate change and resulting in the eradication of biodiverse ecosystems and the violation, harassment, and displacement of indigenous peoples.

The plans Marcos Jr. has presented so far show continued use of fossil fuel energy such as coal and fossil gas. He has also been pushing for the revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, even distorting evidence and promoting it as a “renewable” energy source appropriate for the Philippines despite scientific assessments showing otherwise. This undermines the Philippine government’s commitment to the global fight against global warming, as new fossil fuel projects would continue to increase the global carbon footprint. His proposed 2023 budget allocates over 450 billion pesos for “climate related” projects with no clear indication where these funds will go, leaving space for severe corruption and mis-allocation. 

The Philippines remains one of the most dangerous countries for environmental defenders in the world, and the attacks have persisted under Marcos including the arrest and cruel detention of two Lumad Indigenous organizers who are at the forefront of the struggle to defend their ancestral lands. With his commitment to expand fossil fuel projects and open the Philippine economy for foreign investment, Indigenous peoples and peasant farmers in the countryside will face increased militarization and displacement to pave the way for foreign-owned energy projects.

To delist the CPP-NPA from the US terror list in support of the peace process in the Philippines. 

Due to the long history of colonial rule, severe oppression and exploitation in the Philippines, the country has a history of armed rebellions that still continue today. For over 50 years, since the emergence of the Ferdinand Marcos I dictatorship, the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s army have been waging an armed revolution in the rural countryside where people are suffering severe government neglect and abuse in the form of lack of public services, hunger, poverty, militarization and indiscriminate aerial bombing that force families to flee their homes.

The Duterte administration, following the suit of the United States, has sought to proscribe the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army as a terrorist organization. Yet, a recent ruling the in the Philippines found that the Communist Party of the Philippines should not be included on the list of terrorist organizations in the country; the court found the program of the CPP shows that it is not organized for the purpose of engaging in terrorism but rather seeks address social ills and improve the lives of the FIlipino people. 

The US terror listing of the CPP thwarts peace talks between the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front and the Government of the Philippines and enables the Philippine governments deadly counterinsurgency campaign that has led to red-tagging, arrests, killings and the aerial bombings against civilians. At the heart of the peace negotiations are social and economic reforms that could address the root of armed conflict in the Philippines.

Conclusion

As people in the US, we see our interest and solidarity is with those poor and oppressed sectors of Philippine society against elitist rule and political dominance. We have common goals with the Filipino people for a peaceful and just society, and will not loiter along while lives are at stake in the Philippines. As the deepening human rights crisis and violations by state forces have become institutionalized, we cannot rely on the Philippine justice system to provide justice or create genuine change and must mobilize the broadest array of solidarity support to demand accountability and justice.

We call on people in the US to unite in solidarity with the Filipino people to advance the struggle for peoples’ rights and Reject US support of the Marcos Dynasty!

Reject US Support of the Marcos Dynasty

SIGN ONTO THE UNITY STATEMENT at tinyurl.com/UnitetoRejectMarcos

As people in the US, we reject the US government’s ongoing support for the Marcos Dynasty and its failure to address the murderous and corrupt record of the Marcos Sr. regime.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. rose to power in the Philippines through a calculated and decades-long disinformation campaign which attempted to “clean” the Marcos name and erase the crimes of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. The previous Marcos dictatorship brought gross human rights violations under Martial Law, bankrupting the Philippine economy, abuse of power, ill-gotten wealth, unequal foreign treaties and massive plunder of the land and people; all of which they continue to deny as part of their decades-long attempt to erase history and reframe their rule as “golden years” that will be restored by Marcos Jr. 

The US government has deemed the elections in the Philippines as free and fair, ignoring the widespread concerns of massive fraud, cheating and violence that took place. Before the official results were even released, President Biden called Ferdinand Marcos saying “that he looks forward to working with the President-elect to continue strengthening the US-Philippine Alliance.” U.S. State Department Rep Wendy Sherman publicly announced that the U.S. will grant Marcos Jr. immunity despite the contempt of court case against him, while many legislators are taking a “wait and see” approach to the Marcos Administration. Now, President Biden has invited Marcos Jr. to come visit the United States, and Marcos Jr. is set to address the UN in New York on Sept 20th. 

As the deepening human rights crisis and violations by state forces have become institutionalized, we cannot rely on the Philippine justice system to provide justice or create genuine change and must mobilize the broadest array of solidarity support to demand accountability and justice.

The current position of the US on the Marcos Administration sacrifices basic human rights in exchange for political convenience and the maintenance of military and economic influence of the US in Asia Pacific. Ongoing US military aid to the regime will only exacerbate the human rights crisis in the country. As recorded in Investigate PH, an independent international investigation on the Philippines, human rights violations by state forces are now institutionalized in Philippine society; the judicial system has proved incapable of rendering justice and holding human rights abusers responsible. With Marcos Jr. at the helm, we can only expect the human rights crisis to further deteriorate. 

With an increased stripping of human rights on a global level, building international solidarity among peoples of the world is crucial in the fight for peoples’ rights. As people in the US, we will not loiter along while lives are at stake in the Philippines. Further, the US push to further militarize Asia Pacific and beat the drums of war against China do not serve the interests of poor, working class and marginalized people in the United States. While many in the United States across the globe struggle with basic access to food, housing, health care, freedom from discrimination and a fair wage, the US backing of Marcos only serves the a few privileged groups who gain from the profits of war and economic dominance.

As ICHRP-US, our interest and solidarity is with those poor and oppressed sectors of Philippine society against elitist rule and political dominance. We have common goals with the Filipino people or a peaceful and just society, and express our solidarity in action this fall as we approach the 50th anniversary of Marcos Sr.’s declaration of Martial Law. In this time, we join in unity to issue the follow demands: 

To the US government: 

1. To give due justice to the victims of Martial Law and uphold the contempt of court case against Marcos, revoking his immunity as the head of state of the Philippines. 

2. To halt US tax dollars going to military aid in the Philippines and to halt arms sales to the Philippines. 

To the United Nations: 

1. To hold President Duterte for his egregious human rights violations and war crimes. Push for the ICC probe and a full investigation of his regime. 

Expose the “Maid in Malacanang” Movie’s Lies! Oppose the Continuing Effort of the Marcos Family and their Cronies to Sanitize the True History of the Marcos Dictatorship!

Leading up to the 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines declared by late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., the Marcos family and their cronies have continued their unrelenting effort to erase the family’s historical record of corruption and human rights violations committed during Marcos dictatorship. The movie “Maid in Malacanang” is not just a fictional piece of art or the simple story of one family.  The movie, which was written and directed by Daryl Yap and produced by Senator Imee Marcos herself, horrendously seeks to rewrite the Marcoses as the victims of the 1986 People Power Revolution to create sympathy for the family. It plays an insidious role in paving the way for Marcos II, who was inaugurated on June 30, 2022, to smoothly advance the interests and control of the Marcos family and their allies while they again hold power. The film, which will premiere in the US on August 12, plays a crucial role in projecting a fictional and sanitized image of the Marcos family to people in the US.

The film adds insult to injury for the actual victims and survivors of martial law – the critics who were killed, disappeared, and tortured, and their families. It is a slap in the face to the Filipino people as a whole whose collective wealth was stolen by the Marcos family, and on whose backs massive international loans were secured – loans whose payments are still squeezing the country and the people dry today. It attempts to be progressive by using the perspective of the common person, a maid, while glossing over the reality that Marcos I systematized the labor export policy which drives millions of Filipino migrants to leave the country yearly to do some of the dirtiest and most dangerous jobs in the world. This has been the sole option aggressively promoted by the Philippine government for the people to support their family and uplift the economy.

As people in the US, we must reject the US government’s ongoing support for the Marcos II administration and its willingness to turn a blind eye to the murderous and corrupt record of the Marcos I regime. Already, the US government has welcomed the Marcos II presidency, even assuring Marcos II safe passage into the US despite a US court judgment made in favor of the victims of martial law that was never settled by the Marcos family. In fact, Marcos II has been invited to speak at the UN General Assembly in NYC on September 20, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of martial law. Let’s combat the widespread disinformation that led the Marcos dynasty to regain Presidency and educate ourselves and our communities on the true history and struggle of the Filipino people under the Marcos I dictatorship. Join us for the ICHRP-US educational series starting August 11 and to take ongoing action to reject US Support of the Marcos Dynasty. Uphold the Collective Memory and True History of the Marcos Dictatorship from the People’s Perspective!