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. 

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. 

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.

Sec-Gen of Karapatan Wins Human Rights Prize

ICHRP-US congratulates Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General of Karapatan Human Rights Alliance, for winning the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and Rule of Law Award. The award signifies international recognition of the justness of Palabay’s work despite many attempts of the Duterte regime to attack her, Karapatan, and human rights defenders across the Philippines. 

“I, we, stand with all of you today — unburied by those who wanted to take life and our rights away from all of us. This recognition, the Franco-German Human Rights Prize and the Rule of Law Award, is not only for me: it is for each and every person who believes in defending and advancing people’s rights,” Palabay said.

Tinay Palabay is our friend and we are a proud partner of Karapatan Human Rights Alliance. We have been privileged to host Tinay on speaking tours in the United States in 2017 and 2019. We are committed to genuine solidarity with the struggle of the Filipino people and will continue to support Karapatan’s work in the face of increasing attacks and human rights violations. 

Human Rights Situation in the Philippines Requires Independent Investigation & International Solidarity

On December 10th, International Human Rights Day — the mere concept of human rights remains a point of contention in the Philippines. Between December 7 and 10, the government of the Philippines Department of Justice held a Summit on Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines, including in the program points on the Anti-Terror Law, children in armed conflict, and protection of rights on social media among other topics. To open the Summit, President Rodrigo Duterte claimed that human rights are a high priority for the Philippines, given the human rights treaties the country has joined. 

This recent attempt of the Duterte regime to posture in concern of human rights is a sham. Duterte’s human rights record speaks for itself — one need not delve deep into the regime’s record to see widespread criticism of it’s brutality, killings, and attacks against the Filipino people. 

Even in the weeks leading up to the Philippine government’s Human Rights Summit, two NDFP consultants protected under international humanitarian law were killed; the daughter of Philippine Representative Eufemia Cullamat, a medic in the New People’s Army, was killed and her body desecrated and used as war trophy, again violated humanitarian law. Then, on December 2nd, Amanda Echanis, surviving daughter of recently killed NDFP consultant Randy Echanis, was arrested along with her newborn baby. Today, on International Human Rights Day, the Philippine National Police conducted multiple raise across Manila to arrest 6 unionists and a journalist: Dennise Velasco, Rodrigo Esparago, Romina Astudillo, Mark Ryan Cruz, Joel Demate and Jaymie Gregorio Jr., and Lady Ann Salem.

The Philippine government, whose longstanding and most recent human rights violations demonstrate their attack on people’s efforts to build genuine peace, has no credibility to hold genuine discussion on human rights. The situation requires independent investigation, and we applaud the global people’s initiative to do just that in holding an International Independent Commission On Investigation into Human Rights Violations in the Philippines. Further, we call upon concerned peoples in United States to respond and build international solidarity with the Filipino people against growing tyranny and fascism.