Portland Filipinos and Solidarity Allies Condemn the Escalation of the Duterte Regime’s All out War Against the People
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Reference: Cody Urban, Mass Campaigns Officer, Portland Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
After Trump solidified his support for Duterte and his bloody War on Drugs at the 2017 East Asia Summit (EAS), Duterte escalated his threats against the people. Following the lead of the United States, Duterte added the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) - the alliance of revolutionary forces in the Philippines - to the country’s terrorist list. Duterte also extended this move to legal, progressive political and social organizations, such as Karapatan or Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), which represents progressive Filipino organizations in Philippines and abroad.
By labeling both revolutionary and legal organizations as terrorists, Duterte is attempting to justify his move to end the decade-long Peace Talks between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP). He is paving the way for his regime to intensify extrajudicial killings of human rights defenders, members of progressive organizations and revolutionary forces. All the while, allowing the GRP to neglect their duty of adhering to the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) which prohibits both sides from engaging in unjust actions against civilians. This call by president Rodrigo Duterte creates conditions where workers, peasants, and indigenous communities are made even more vulnerable by limiting their democratic rights, removing the pro-people forces that defend their rights, and solidifying Duterte’s character as a fascist reminiscent of the US-Marcos regime. This move is not done in the interest of the FIlipino people, but creates an environment ripe for fascism. This has been seen so far with Duterte’s War on Drugs - now claiming 14,000 FIlipinos in extrajudicial killings by state and paramilitary armed forces. Duterte, after winning his seat as president by declaring himself a leader for the people, is now showing his true tyrant colors and his unwillingness to work for a just and lasting peace based on genuine social and economic reforms. These “anti-terror laws” legitimize repression and violation of civil and political rights of the Filipino people especially human rights advocates.
Even before finalizing Duterte’s order to label these groups as terrorists, the people have been victims to fascist militarism. On November 20, 2017, a group traveling in Batangas, an area three hours away from Manila, to visit sites part of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) Adopt-a-Community program and to provide support in a fact finding mission regarding militarization and human rights abuses were held by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed forces of the Philippines (AFP). Nine peasants and farmers (the “Batangas 9”) were randomly selected for arrest, accused of being members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and charged with attempted murder. In reality, the Batangas 9 are local members of the farmer’s organization Kaisahan Sapida. Through vigilant and quick response of human rights workers, the 9 were later safely released.
Batangas, like many other regions in the country, is being targeted for large-scale, environmentally destructive open-pit mining and subject to heavy militarization and indiscriminate aerial bombings by the AFP. Local community members and organizers are being targeted daily by military and paramilitary forces to drive them off their land as it is being turned over to foreign corporations. Because of this corruption and foreign interest, military and police actively obstruct local human rights organizations like Karapatan, Kaisahan and NAFCON from reaching the communities as part of their attempt to pacify the people’s growing resistance to the intensifying military occupation.
Portland Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (PCHRP) condemns the US-backed Duterte regime in its rising fascist state repression against the people. We are united with the Filipino people and support their right to creating a just and lasting peace. PCHRP condemns the continued acts of aggression by Duterte against workers, peasants and indigenous communities. We affirm the release of the Batangas 9 and recognize that their safe release is possible due to the work of local human rights organizations such as Karapatan and solidarity formations such as the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP). PCHRP calls for the release of all political prisoners and for the resumption of Peace Talks between the GRP and NDFP. We also call for Filipinos, Filipino-Americans, and solidarity allies to join us in the struggle for human rights. Join us on December 10, International Human Rights Day and the launching of ICHRP Pacific Northwest, to continue the push for a just and lasting peace in the Philippines as human rights violations are heightening with the rise of the fascist state under Duterte.