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.