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!

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