US-PH Friendship Caucus Chair Typifies Worst of US Foreign Policy

ICHRP-US commends Representative Susan Wild in her amendment to the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act which suspends US military aid to the Philippine National Police (PNP). In her statement, she rightly demands that US rhetoric around human rights be backed by actual policy adding, “is it too much to ask that our country put some modest conditions on arming and assisting the security forces of an authoritarian government waging war on its own people?” Indeed, this amendment is only one step in addressing the well-documented human rights abuses perpetrated by the US- backed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and PNP. 

Despite Wild’s clear case for ending US assistance to the PNP, Representative Steve Chabot, Co-Chair of the US-Philippines Friendship Caucus, opposed the amendment under the guise of “friendship” and “partnership” with the Philippines. Chabot suggested that the amendment would undermine US national security and threaten a 70-year “partnership” with the Philippines, and even made the preposterous and incoherent claim that he “supports the war on drugs . . . just not extrajudicial killings.” What politicians like Chabot call “friendship” or “partnership” with the Philippines is in fact collusion with a government that terrorizes and murders the people it claims to serve. 

While Rep Chabot pretends to stand for the mutual interests of the US and Filipino people. he has shown that he is willing to accept the lies of a murderous regime in order to protect US geopolitical and economic interests. In 2019, Chabot received a delegation of supposed indigenous leaders from the Philippines who came to share their struggles. In reality, the Mindanao Indigenous People’s Council of Elders and Leaders (MIPCEL) is sponsored by the Philippine state and is composed of people who do not represent the people of the communities they claim to speak for. 

Instead of exposing the role of the AFP and PNP in the militarization of Lumad schools, red-tagging of students and teachers, and extrajudicial killings of indigenous leaders, MIPCEL actively collaborates with these very same forces to red-tag Lumad communities and progressive organizations. The AFP and PNP have been responsible for countless massacres of Lumad people and their allies, most recently in February 2022 when two volunteer teachers, a health worker, and their 2 drivers were tortured and killed near New Bataan, Davao de Oro. 

Chabot’s willingness to back the AFP and as well as support former president Duterte’s murderous drug war exposes the true purpose of the US Philippines Friendship Caucus: to maintain US economic, political, and military supremacy in the region. It is true that the US has always been friendly with the repressive puppet governments of the Philippines, including the dictator Marcos Sr., and now his son, Marcos Jr. who claimed victory in a fraudulent and widely condemned election process. The Filipino people continue to bear the brunt of US neoliberal economic policies and intensifying state terrorism the Philippine government imposes upon them. 

Genuine friendship however, is exemplified by the people to people solidarity of countless grassroots organizations pressing for the passage of the Philippine Human Rights Act. It means standing with the Filipino people in calling for an end to the red-tagging and murder of activists, journalists, trade unionists, church leaders, teachers, lawyers, indigenous people, peasants, and the urban poor. The US’s more than 70 year “partnership” with the Philippines is in fact over 70 years of the repression of the Filipino people’s demands for genuine democracy and national sovereignty. 

As collusion between the US and Philippine state become more transparent and as Biden extends an invitation to Marcos Jr. to visit the White House, it is essential to expose the insidiousness of  “friendship” when it only extends to elite and dynastic politicians in the Philippines and excludes exploited and oppressed sectors of society. Wild’s amendment, on the other hand, demonstrates a commitment to genuine friendship by listening to the demands of the Filipino people and their allies and revoking military aid to repressive state forces like the PNP. 

President Biden: Decline the Invitation to Bong Bong Marcos Inauguration

On May 9th, the son of former dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, stole the Philippine Presidential Election, fulfilling their dream of dynastic rule. His vice president, Sara, is the daughter of the current dictator, Rodrigo Duterte. Together, Sara Duterte and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. embody the systemic corruption that has plagued Philippine politics for generations. Through a brazen strategy of vote-buying, misinformation, and militarized voter intimidation, Bongbong Marcos and Sara Duterte capitalized on the feverish campaign to sanitize their family’s reputations. 

On May 12, Marcos invited United States President, Joe Biden, to their inauguration on June 30th, 2022. By attending the inauguration of a fraudulently elected presidential administration, not only does Biden validate the clearly observed election violations committed by BongBong Marcos, but reinforces the parasitic bond the United States has had with the Philippines for generations. 

Among the litany of human rights abuses, the recorded body count of Ferdinand Marcos and Rodrigo Duterte is just over 15,000 people. With Bong Bong and Sara in power, they have the power of pardoning both of their fathers for their crimes. To attend this inauguration is to spit in the faces of the many victims of the Marcos and Duterte regimes, and dismiss all those who have fought and continue to fight against the tyranny of martial law. It is for these reasons that we demand President Biden decline this invitation to witness the installation of a fraudulent presidency, and instead call for a full investigation into the factual discrepancies and recorded observations that denied the right to fair and free elections for the Filipino people. Instead, Biden should consider robust legislation that would challenge the unfettered military aid that goes to that holds the Philippine government accountable for its actions – the Philippine Human Rights Act. 

If President Biden attends the inauguration of Bongbong Marcos, he is sending a message of complicity and cooperation in well-recorded human rights atrocities by the United States. This action will not sit lightly and will be remembered by those of us who have taken up a mantle in this fight for the right of self-determination for Filipinos everywhere. 

8 Points to Oppose US support of the Marcos-Duterte tandem

On Tuesday, May 11, US President Joe Biden called Ferdinand Marcos Jr., saying “that he looks forward to working with the President-elect to continue strengthening the U.S.-Philippine Alliance,” according to a White House press release. On the same day, Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted congratulating Marcos on his apparent victory and to the people of the Philippines for a “successful election.” ICHRP-US presents eight points in response to the Biden Administration remarks: 

1. The US is already calling Marcos the winner, despite the fact the election remains in question due to mass reports of cheating and fraud. The congratulatory messages are not only premature but inappropriate and dismissive of widespread concerns about irregularities and voter disenfranchisement. 

2. The US response to Marcos spits in the face of the many victims of the Marcos and Duterte regimes. Rather than acknowledge the impacts of such an election on the many who have suffered human rights abuses in the Philippines, Biden and Secretary Blinken have chosen to promote political convenience. 

3. The first calls to Marcos came from the US and China. The US is trying to position itself to maintain military and economic influence in the Philippines over China. This is another instance instance in which foreign powers place the Philippines in the crosshairs of the new cold war.

4. Marcos is being held to contempt of court in the United States. Once again, the United States is overlooking legality and justice for human rights violations for the sake of military and economic positioning in the Asia Pacific region. While Marcos may seek immunity as a sitting head of state, his case from 1992 should not be ignored or dismissed. People in the United States must uphold this issue and demand accountability. 

5. The Biden Administration’s response to this election aligns with its previous responses to the Duterte regime. While Biden has feigned to care for human rights and democracy, he has continued unabashed military support for the dictator duterte, and shows no genuine action against the well recorded human rights atrocities in the Philippines. 

6. While the US state department created a report on the Philippines with damning evidence of the crimes of Duterte, the US congratulations to Marcos shows the Biden Administration is cowering to the protests of the Philippine government that decried said State Department report. 

7. The United States has historically used the presence of small and isolated terrorist groups (Abu Sayeff and ISIS) in the Philippines to justify US military presence and aid, despite the fact that terrorsim in the Philippines has at its worst been enacted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, for which the US is responsible for training. 

8. At this time, given the unfavorable response of the Biden Administration, we must rely on building a grassroots movement of support for the call to stop US military AID to the Philippines. We must educate and mobilize our communities and allies to pressure progressive legislators to decisively oppose US support of the Marcos-Duterte tandem. 

Stand with the Filipino people against fraudulent election and possible victory of son of former dictator Marcos – ICHRP-Global

Press Release
May 12, 2022

The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) expresses our unequivocal support and solidarity with the Filipino people and the growing movement challenging the fraudulent elections in the Philippines and the threat to basic rights posed by an incoming Marcos presidency.  

ICHRP, on May 10, called for continued vigilance through the vote counting period, and for an immediate independent investigation into the many voting irregularities faced on election day. What was emerging information at the time now appears to be confirmed as widespread and systematic election fraud. It is clear the integrity of the voting process, due to power and vote counting machine (VCM) failures, widespread reports of vote-buying, illegal campaigning, red-tagging and violence in polling stations has compromised the 2022 election results.

The world is watching this election like never before. Six years of violence under the Duterte regime has shone a global spotlight on the deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines, and the inability of the domestic judicial system to credibly respond. The global media outlets, governments, and international institutions such as the UN Human Rights Council are closely watching how the COMELEC and other Philippine government institutions respond to thousands of allegations and credible evidence of election fraud. The question is whether impunity continues or the state will heed the peoples’ call for free and fair elections and take the necessary actions to address fraud and widespread misinformation, including holding the COMELEC, Smartmatic, and F2 Logistics accountable.

ICHRP supported the Filipino people’s effort to assert their civil and political rights prior to this election, through Investigate PH and the IOM 2022, and continues to do so today. This moment belongs to the Filipino people’s decades-long campaign to ensure ‘Never Again’ to the crimes committed under the Marcos dictatorship.  

We call on all democratic governments and organizations, including from the labour movement and faith communities, to radically increase their support for democracy and justice in the Philippines, and commit to continue to do our part to support the Filipino people’s efforts for fundamental democratic change.

Further comment: Peter Murphy +61418312301 chairperson@ichrp.net

All Eyes On the Philippines

ICHRP-US is gravely concerned about projections of a Marcos-Duterte victory despite signs that point to systemic fraud and cheating. The International Observers Mission have noted troubling incidents that undermine the Filipino peoples’ right to democracy, self determination, and genuine peace through heavy militarization around voting stations, massive red-tagging of government critics, including members of the international community, political arrests, and civilian electoral boards being replaced by police. Additional anomalies call into question the integrity of the election including the failure of 1800 vote counting machines and reports of widespread vote buying. 

ICHRP-US shares the concerns of the Filipino people that a Marcos-Duerte tandem will only continue and worsen crimes against humanity already committed under Duterte and shield Duterte from being held accountable for those crimes. We urge the US people to join ongoing vigils for hope and democracy and other actions rejecting a Marcos-Duterte victory built on disinformation and cheating. To support and ensure the Filipino people can freely exercise their right to determine their future, we must turn our eyes onto the Philippines and let corrupt leaders know the world is watching. The militarization and violence around the election and the initial results, which all but guarantee impunity for the Marcos and Duterte regimes, further substantiate the justness of the Philippine human rights Act and the call for accountability for the Philippine Dirty Dozen, including Duterte himself. We must amplify the call for the PHRA and accountability for the Dirty Dozen to a much higher level than we have yet achieved; we cannot allow for the United States to once again back a Marcos or Duterte dictatorship.