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. 

Duterte Government Terror Tags International Church and Labor Allies

On Sunday, April 10, elements of the Republic of the Government of the Philippines harassed and red-tagged labor activist Joe Iosbaker in front of his hotel in Manila, Philippines. Iosbaker, from Chicago, was visiting the Philippines for eight days. 

Before 7am that day, members of the Criminal Investigation & Detection Group (CIDG) hung three banners at the fence of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines national office bearing the name and image of Iosbaker. The banners read, “Ally of CTG [Communist-Terrorst Group],” “Don’t meddle with PH affairs. You’re not welcome here!” At around 8:30 am, a small group of people rallied in front of the office of National Council of Churches in the Philippines. Their placards read: “Banyagang Terorista, Alyado ng Komunista, Layas!”(Foreign Terrorist, ally of Communists, Out!”).

The following Monday, April 11, Reverend Cathy Chang, a mission co-worker of the Presbyterian Church (USA), found similar banners and stickers outside of her home in Quezon City. The stickers and tarpaulin, with her photo, mirrored those written about Iosbaker, reading “Supporter of Terrorist CPP-NPA-NDFP” and threatening her to “Get Out of the Country.” Rev Chang and her family have lived in the Philippines for six years where she serves in migrant ministry at the invitation of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP). 

The tagging of Iosbaker and Chang as “supporters of terrorism” is another example of the Philippine government’s counterinsurgency program that increasingly targets overseas Filipinos and solidarity Activists. In recent years Bayan USA, Gabriela USA, Migrante USA, Anakbayan-USA and the Malaya Movement USA have faced online harassment and red tagging. Just weeks prior to the tagging of Iosbaker and Chang, Harry Roque, former spokesperson for President Duterte and current Senatorial candidate, made the preposterous but dangerous claim that the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines is a ‘legal front’ for the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.

As documented in ICHRP’s recent Bulletin on “Fighting Red-Tagging in Philippine Elections” red-tagging is on the rise in the Philippines as pivotal elections approach. While the country sits on the brink of a potential return of the Marcoses to power, the Duterte camp has red tagged Leni Robredo, the main opposition candidate, accusing her of working with the Communist Party, while also calling for voters to withdraw support from Makabayan Bloc under similar accusations of support for the Community Party. The political situation remains tenuous as the upcoming elections await, and clearly red-tagging continues to be used to intimidate, harass, quell dissent and attempt to discredit opposition. 

In the end, red-tagging does not put to question the credibility of its victims but rather exposes the ineptitude of its perpetrators. In this moment, the need becomes to increase solidarity support, not to quash it from fear of retribution. 

#ActivismIsNotaCrime #ActivismIsNotTerrorism #DefendtheDefenders #PassthePHRA

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Roque Red-Tags International Human Rights Defenders Over Dirty Dozen Campaign

ICHRP Global Press Release
April 4, 2022

Former Presidential Spokesperson and now Senatorial candidate Harry Roque has turned immediately to red tagging international human rights advocates when we called him out for the deadly practice of red tagging,” said ICHRP Chairperson Peter Murphy in Sydney today in response to Roque’s outburst last Saturday.

Roque has made the preposterous but dangerous claim that the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines is a ‘legal front’ for the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army. Sadly this is a routine red tagging applied to any Filipino who advocates for land reform, workers’ rights, environmental protection or the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and it has led to 427 political killings during Duterte’s presidency up to the end of 2021. Now it is applied to foreigners,” said Mr Murphy.

Roque used his attack on ICHRP to red tag the Bayan-Muna Party List and the BAYAN alliance of people’s organisations, mistakenly claiming that BAYAN is a member of ICHRP. ICHRP member organizations are all based outside the Philippines, and are organizations of non-Filipino citizens, including churches, trade unions, and lawyers’ associations,” said Mr Murphy.

In June 2020, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms Michelle Bachelet reported to the UN Human Rights Council:

While numerous statements by President Duterte are subsequently clarified by his spokesperson and other officials as not to be taken literally, the widespread killings, detentions, red-tagging and score-settling by State actors, including in the campaign against illegal drugs, suggest that his public comments may have incited violence and may have had the effect of encouraging, backing or even ordering human rights violations with impunity. The use of such language could amount to a violation of the prohibition against arbitrary deprivation of life in Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.” (p. 15)

As Presidential Spokesperson, Harry Roque did much ‘clarifying’ of the President’s incitements, and justified the withdrawal of the Philippines from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. In November 2021, the Philippine government nomination of Roque, a supposedly former human right lawyer, to the UN International Law Commission was rejected. 

Further comment: Peter Murphy +61 418 312 301 chairperson@ichrp.net

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Justice for Belle!

ICHRP-US condemns the kidnapping, torture, and rape of 15 year old “Belle” and demands the perpetrators and enablers of the heinous crime be held accountable. Just last week, Belle’s family announced at a press conference that they have filed charges against elements of the 59th Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army (IBPA) and a paramilitary unit (Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit or CAFGU) connected to it who they believe were responsible for the kidnapping, illegal detention and rape of Belle. They have also filed charges against Chief of the Southern Luzon Command during the time of the incident, Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade. The SOLCOM commands 59th IBPA.Gen. Parlade was also the Spokesperson of the National Taskforce to End Local Communist Armed Conflict or NTF-ELCAC. 

Belle was detained from July 27 to August 13, 2020 at a military camp in Pagbilao, Quezon.  She has asserted harsh interrogation, physical torture, and rape were used to coerce her to claim she and her parents were insurgents with the New People’s Army. Unfortunately, cruel tactics such as these are commonly used, even against children, in the Duterte administration’s war against their critics. The NTF-ELCAC and Parlade have likened the work of community pantries which distributed food to the hungry to the “work of the devil.” Its spiteful policy separated Baby River Nasino, who died at 3 months, from her mother, political prisoner Reina Mae Nasino who was jailed on allegedly false charges of firearm and explosive possession. While the NTF-ELCAC’s attempts to link civilians to terrorism have ranged from absurd to blatant lies, all have succeeded in mercilessly targeting civilians in an attempt to deflect attention from how the administration has failed its own people, leaving them starving, suffering, sick, and even dead. 

Antonio Parlade has been identified as one of the biggest human rights abusers in the Philippines for his red-tagging of activists, journalists, and celebrities in his role as spokesperson for the NTF-ELCAC which severely undermines freedom of expression and is linked to the killing of numerous activists and organizers. In a recent bipartisan letter to the U.S. State Department in which ICHRP was cited, 24 U.S. representatives called for sanctions to be applied against General Parlade among other members of the Philippine military and Police. 

As an organization that stands for human rights in the Philippines, ICHRP-US is concerned about the ways US moral, political, and financial support for the Duterte administration and its security forces have enabled these grave crimes against the Filipino people, arguably crimes against humanity, to persist and proliferate. ICHRP-US urges its members and allies to stop the flow of US support to the Duterte administration and its security forces by mobilizing to pass the Philippine Human Rights Act and to sanction officials like Parlade who are responsible for grave human rights violations accountable for their unlawful acts via the Magnitsky Act.