November 11, 2023
Bangkok, Thailand— Over 100 human rights advocates from over 30 organizations across the globe held a 3 day conference and assembly to decry the implementation of US counterinsurgency tactics in the Philippines and to advance international defense of human rights under the new Marcos regime.
Throughout the conference, human rights experts exposed the ongoing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including extra-judicial killings, disappearances, intensifying suppression of civil liberties, slanderous designation of respected leaders as terrorists via the Anti-Terror Act (ATA), and relentless red-tagging of activists, progressive organizations, and solidarity activists via the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
Edith Burgos of the Karapatan National Council, identified the counterinsurgency programs of the Marcos government as, “responsible for the steadily deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines and escalating violations of International Humanitarian Law directed against the Filipino people.”
Burgos’ criticism of Marcos counterinsurgency programs exposed the reality that the human rights atrocities committed by the Philippine military and police are not only aided and abetted by US military aid (over 1 billion US dollars since 2015) and the presence of nine US military bases in the country – but patterned after US counterinsurgency tactics.
Suzanne Adely, President of the National Lawyers Guild, explained counterinsurgency as “the organized use of subversion and violence to seize, nullify, or challenge political control of a region.” She noted that the US has employed counterinsurgency tactics since its colonial operations in the Philippines began in 1898. She further pointed out how the use of the term “insurgency” attempts to delegitimize people’s resistance, including armed resistance, as “terrorism,” and drew parallels between the Palestinian people’s struggle for liberation and the Filipino people’s fight against the US-backed Marcos regime.
Edre Olalia, President of the National Union of People’s Lawyers in the Philippines, explained the significance of International Humanitarian Law in the context of the current situation in the Philippines. Olalia expounded that contrary to US counterinsurgency doctrine, armed resistance movements in response to the severe oppression of peoples is legal under the Geneva conventions, and further emphasized the importance of the protection of civilians and non combatants in the context of civil war.
ICHRP chairperson Peter Murphy emphasized the critical role of solidarity in supporting the Filipino people’s aspirations for a just and lasting peace that is free from the injustice of poverty, landlessness, and state repression. He reflected on ICHRP’s role in investigating and exposing the dire human rights situation as well as coordinating an election observers mission which found massive fraud, vote-buying, and red-tagging and intimidation during the 2022 elections.
“The devastating number of attacks that continue under the Marcos regime in the Philippines – the many disappearances, the forced surrenderees, and the killings of NDFP peace consultants, are all violations of international humanitarian law done in the guise of US-designed counterinsurgency programs. The international community must oppose these.”
Organizations from Canada to India, France to Australia committed to strengthening solidarity support for the Filipino people, continuing to conduct broad education and information dissemination on the situation in the Philippines, lobby their respective government bodies, and oppose foreign support for war crimes in the country.
“The struggle for a just and lasting peace in the Philippines is not a struggle isolated from the people of the world; we will continue to fervently campaign until the demands of the Filipino people are met and activists no longer live in fear of reprisal.”
For comment: Peter Murphy, Chairperson, ICHRP Global Council +61 418 312 301