On the occasion of President BENIGNO SIMEON C. AQUINO III’s last State of the Nation (SONA) address, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) will be highlighting the outcome of the The International Peoples’ Tribunal on Crimes of the US-Aquino Regime Against the Filipino People (IPT2015) to counter the false claims about economic and social progress that President Aquino is expected to deliver.
The International Peoples’ Tribunal on Crimes Against the Filipino People was convened by the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, IBON International, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and the National Lawyers Guild. IPT2015 was held in Washington D.C. on July 16-18, 2015, and the Verdict was delivered to the Philippines Embassy, who refused to accept the document, as well as the White House on July 20, 2015, by rallies of participants in the IPT2015.
The distinguished international panel of Jurors that presided over the IPT2015 – Attorney Azadeh Shahshahani, Attorney Camilo Pérez-Bustillo, Prof Pao-yu Ching, Rev Michael Yoshii, Ms Mary Boyd, Rev Molefe Tsele, and Rev Malcolm Damon – ultimately found defendant Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III and defendant Government of the United States of America, represented by President Barack Hussein Obama II:
- GUILTY of gross human rights violations involving the civil and political rights of the Filipino People, for committing extrajudicial killings, disappearances, massacres, torture, arbitrary arrests and detentions as well as other vicious, brutal and systematic abuses and attacks on the basic democratic rights of the people;
- GUILTY of gross and systematic violations of human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights of the Filipino people through the imposition of neoliberal “free market” globalization to exploit the people; transgression of their economic sovereignty and plunder of their national patrimony and economy; and attacks on the people’s livelihoods and the destruction of the environment; and
- GUILTY of gross and systematic violations of the rights of the people to national self-determination and liberation through the imposition of the US war of terror and US military intervention; as well as the perpetration of crimes against humanity and war crimes; misrepresentations of the people’s right to national liberation and self-determination as “terrorism” and the baseless “terrorist” listing of individuals, organizations and other entities by the US and other governments.
The verdict was reached after 32 witnesses, made up of survivors, family, friends, and experts, presented a compelling case of complicity, collusion, responsibility, and liability for gross, massive, and systematic human rights violations against the Defendants. The 17 witnesses in Washington D.C., 10 in Manila, 5 via video depositions, represented 34 cases. Documents on 29 additional cases were also submitted.
Although ultimately a political mechanism, the Tribunal was conducted consistent with established judicial procedure. The Defendants – President Benigno S. Aquino III, the Philippines Government and the Government of the United States of America, represented by President Barack Hussein Obama II of the United States Government, the IMF, World Bank, WTO, multinational corporations and foreign banks doing business in the Philippines – were duly notified of the indictment to provide a defense. This option was not taken up.
The Prosecution team was led by Ramsey Clark and supported by a team of lawyers from the Philippines National Union of People’s Lawyers, Belgium, the USA and Canada.
The Jurors agreed that the Prosecution satisfied the burden of proving that the Defendants, in concert with each other, willfully and feloniously committed gross and systematic violations of Filipino people’s basic human rights.
The Jurors found it undoubtedly proven that state security forces were involved in the spate of extrajudicial killings, massacres, and enforced disappearances in the Philippines. The pieces of evidence singly, and independently, confirm that these incidents are not isolated but state-sponsored, part of a policy deliberately adopted to silence the critics of the government.
Additionally, the Jurors found Defendant Aquino and the Philippine government disempower the people with faulty and failed economic policy. Opportunities in the Philippines are shrinking, the prices of goods are ballooning, social services are eluding the reach of the ordinary Filipino. The Philippines government unabashedly surrendered its national patrimony and sovereignty to corporate entities in important industries, particularly and most especially in mining. Agricultural and industrial development are marginalised.
Lastly, the Prosecutors convinced the International Peoples’ Tribunal of the interventionist policies in the Philippines and in Asia by the defendant United States government. Various military operations under Defendant President Aquino have resulted in crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The nexus between the culpability of Defendant Aquino and the role and participation of Defendant United States government for gross and serious violations of civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights and the right of the Filipino people to national self-determination and liberation is borne by the facts and the evidence fully established during the Tribunal.
The Verdict called on the Defendants to undertake, and the People to pursue proper remedial measures to prevent the commission or continuance of such illegal and criminal acts, to repair the damages done to the Filipino people and their environment, compensate the victims and their families for their atrocities, and to rehabilitate the communities, especially indigenous communities that have been destroyed by the criminal acts of the Defendants.
It encouraged us to seek redress, to pursue justice, and to construct a global order founded on full respect for the rights of all peoples, everywhere.
The IPT truly enlivened the movement for human rights in the Philippines and aided in a strong projection of this concern into the international community.
A complete version of this Verdict shall be made available on http://InternationalPeoplesTribunal.org
Peter Murphy (Australia)
General Secretary, ICHRP Global Council
IPT 2015 Co-convenor.
Canon Barry Naylor (UK)
Chairperson, ICHRP Global Council
IPT 2015 Co-convenor
Katrina Abarcar (US)
ICHRP Global Council
IPT 2015 International Coordinating Secretariat (ICS)
Bern Jagunos (Canada)
Deputy Secretary, ICHRP Global Council
IPT 2015 ICS
Angie M. Gonzales (the Netherlands)
IPT 2015 ICS