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    Martial Law in the Philippines @50: Continuing Past and the Struggle Continues

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    Statement
    September 21, 2022

    The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) are writing to express our profound concerns at the ongoing human rights crisis in the Philippines on this 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Martial law of September 21st, 1972.

    The first Marcos regime resulted in 14 years of oppressive military rule, widespread torture, imprisonment, and thousands of extra judicial killings in an ongoing attempt to crush dissent. The dictatorship also gave rise to a large bloated military command structure which has played an ever-increasing role in the country’s political life. In addition, during the Marcos family’s dictatorship between 5 to 10 billion dollars were embezzled, only a fraction of which was ever recovered, much of this wealth remains in the hands of the Marcos children and their cronies in a myriad of Swiss and offshore accounts, and properties.

    The Marcos Dictatorship rather than creating sustainable growth set in motion a labour export program that exists to this day, sending a huge workforce overseas to generate foreign exchange reserves for the oligarchs and political elites. More than 10 million Filipinos now work and live abroad, of which 800,000 are in Canada. It’s the largest, fastest growing migrant group in Canada.

    Fifty years on, the Philippines is at a crossroads. Over the past six years we have seen once again an accelerated drift away from democracy towards a military state. During this period there have been documented upwards of 30,000 extra judicial killings by the police and military with total impunity.

    The Duterte government institutionalized the militarization of society through the NTF-ELCAC and its total war approach. The regime targeted and harassed labour activists, farmers, journalists, lawyers, environmental activists, church people and human rights advocates, scores were killed and hundreds remain in prison. In terms of accountability for human rights the legal system is largely not functioning, out of the tens of thousands of state orchestrated killings less than a handful have produced charges against the state security forces.

    There are now new storm clouds on the horizon. The May 2022 elections brought the Marcos-Duterte team to the highest executive offices in the country, along with a coterie of oligarchs and family dynasties who control the Senate and Congress. Political power was purchased on a wave of ill-gotten wealth, fraud, vote buying and a highly sophisticated disinformation campaign. It was a presidential campaign funded in part by billions of dollars stolen by the Marcos family in the 1970s and 1980’s during the Martial Law period.

    In the early days of the new Marcos-Duterte regime, it withdrew the Philippines from the International Criminal Court. It is an ominous sign for the respect for International Human Rights conventions and human rights in the Philippines.

    The Marcos-Duterte administration has refused to engage in a peace process with the NDFP and it has continued redtagging organizations and individuals who stand against status quo. It has continued to attack and silence the press, by shutting down Rappler, one of the few critical independent media outlets in the Philippines. It intends to resume the brutal War on Drugs, generated by the Duterte Regime. It is early days, but the Bongbong Marcos rule has taken on the characteristics of the brutal Duterte Regime.

    On the 50th Anniversary of one of the darkest periods in Philippine history, the human rights community are uniting in calling for an end to state violence, an end to democracy for the rich and the democratization of the economy through land reform, better wages and working conditions for the Filipino. The Filipino people cannot expect anything from a government implementing neoliberal policies which prioritizes big businesses and kowtows to the dictates of foreign powers.

    We call on the international community to stand with the Filipino people’s struggle against the fascist Marcos-Duterte regime.

    We call on our governments to hold the perpetrators of Human Rights violations in the Philippines accountable through existing legal mechanisms including the Magnitsky Act.

    We call on our governments to hold the new Marcos Government accountable for its human rights record by ending all arms sales to the Philippines and all technical cooperation for the police and military.

    We call on the International Criminal Court to vigorously pursue the case of Crimes Against Humanity against Rodrigo Duterte and those complicit in human rights violations in his government.

    We call on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to review the case against the Philippines and go beyond the domestic measures compromise decision of 2021.

    We are united in our declaration.

    Never again to Martial Law!
    Respect Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law!
    End the wars on the Filipino People, stop State-sponsored violence!

    International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, (ICHRP)

    ICHRP calls for continued ICC investigation of Duterte’s crimes against humanity in the wake of Marcos government’s attempts to shield perpetrators by refusing to rejoin

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    Press Release
    August 3, 2022

    Refusal of the Marcos Administration to rejoin the ICC shields Duterte and his policies of impunity and state terror, further victimizing the 30,000 that were summarily executed in the Duterte regime’s wars on drugs; on dissent; and on the Moro people.

    “The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines [ICHRP] is extremely disappointed but not surprised by the new Marcos administration’s decision to keep the Philippines outside the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court [ICC],” said ICHRP Chairperson Peter Murphy today. “This is part of the continued and ongoing state cover-up of crimes against humanity.”

    ICHRP believes the confirmation that the Philippines is out of the ICC is an ominous sign for human rights as the only rationale for not being under its jurisdiction is to shelter perpetrators from prosecution and the intention to continue committing such crimes.   

    Despite this deplorable decision by the Marcos government, there remain grounds for the continued investigation of Duterte presidency’s alleged crimes against humanity. 

    In June 2021, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda reported that there were sufficient grounds for a full investigation into the crime against humanity of murder committed in connection with the country’s ‘war on drugs’ between 1 July 2016 and 16 March 2019. ICHRP urges that this full investigation be vigorously pursued and not be stalled by continued false claims that the Philippine judicial system is functioning and can address any concerns about these alleged gross violations of human rights.

    “The findings of the First and Second Reports of the Independent International Commission of Investigation into Human Rights Violations in the Philippines (Investigate PH) clearly showed the flaws and failure of the domestic remedies,” said Murphy.

    The Philippine courts had managed to convict only two police officers for the 2017 murder of 17 year-old Kian Delos Santos. This was one case of the 6,011 officially recorded up to the end of 2020. This case only succeeded because the Barangay Captain had failed to switch off the CCTV which recorded the police abduction of Kian. 

    Investigate PH also dispelled the Philippine government claims that the thousands of victims of the ‘war on drugs’ were killed by police in self-defence. It presented forensic evidence to the ICC of victims with defensive wounds, of victims who had been bound before being killed. But there are probably over 30,000 cases of these police killings in anti-drug operations, based on statistics of “Deaths Under Investigation”. And now the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency no longer reports deaths in anti-drug operations, on their Real Numbers PH webpage.

    “A review – of 5,655 cases – was first promised by Justice Secretary Guevarra to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2020,” said Murphy. In February 2021 Secretary Guevarra reported that just 328 cases had been reviewed, revealing no proper crime scene investigation in more than half the cases. 

    “ICHRP has full confidence in the impartiality of the ICC. We reiterate that the ICC should vigorously pursue the full investigation of the previous Duterte administration for these alleged crimes against humanity so that, finally, justice may be served and impunity ended,” Murphy said.

    ICHRP initiated the Investigate PH project, under which an independent international commission conducted its three-part investigation on the extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests, abductions and disappearances, and breaches of collective human rights in the Philippines since 2016 when President Duterte came into power. #

    For comment: Peter Murphy, Chairperson, ICHRP Global Council +61 418 312 301 [email protected]

    Marcos State-of-the-Nation Address is Music for Foreign Investors, Bad News for Majority of Filipinos

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    Press Release
    July 26, 2022

    The Filipino people have spelt out the real suffering state of the nation and this should be the basis of the Marcos plan of action – ICHRP

    “The People’s State-of-the-Nation street rally yesterday told the incoming Marcos Presidency that the real problems to address are the skyrocketing prices of goods and services, the hell-like traffic gridlocks, rapidly declining value of the Peso, almost weekly increase in the prices of fuel, million-dollar foreign loans, declining real wages, massive landlessness and poverty, intensifying natural disasters, and corruption in government agencies,” said Peter Murphy, Chairperson of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP).

    “What we have seen thus far is Marcos’ secret vacation to Australia, the luxurious exclusive victory parties with the oligarchs, and a grand movie project to repackage the Marcos family as victims and the Filipino people as – in the words of its creator – the ‘thieves of power’ – all amid the very pressing hardships faced by their citizens,” he added.

    In his first State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA), Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. had no qualms in repeating the economic policies of his predecessors, promising to extend the VAT to digital services which will hit the poor, to liberalise foreign investment, promote more special economic zones, and expand the Public Private Partnership system – all opportunities for the oligarchs and his selected cronies to further plunder the coffers of the nation and squeeze consumers of public services. 

    Marcos Jr. paid lip service to the climate crisis, but promised to expand natural gas use and even build nuclear power stations!

    He made no mention at all of human rights. “This is not surprising especially with his father’s – Ferdinand Marcos Sr. – notorious record of Martial Law and human rights violations. This means that the climate of impunity continues, a very dangerous situation for the Filipino people. There’s a pressing need for the international community to increase their vigilance and action,” Murphy warned.

    “Marcos Jr and his family have long waited for this moment to be back in Malacañang. If they had a sincere desire to serve the Filipino people they would have long ago put forward sound, realistic proposals and mobilized significant amounts of their own wealth to invest in the various government posts that they have held.

    “We from the international community extend our solidarity to the people who yesterday exercised their right to peaceful assembly to show the true state of the nation. We urge the dictator’s son not to follow his father’s cruel and bloody footsteps, and instead to work with his critics and the Filipino people’s movements who do have realistic, specific proposals to help solve the pressing problems of the Philippines to achieve just, peaceful and genuine development,” Murphy concluded.

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    NTF-ELCAC Too Lazy and Bloodthirsty for Peace Talks

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    Statement
    July 24, 2022

    The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) is not surprised that the NTF-ELCAC is recommending against peace talks to the Marcos administration. “Addressing the injustices at the root of the longstanding armed conflict in the Philippines requires brains to carefully study the situation, as well as a heart and hard work to effectively address that. But Lorraine Badoy and her cohorts have learned from the master Rodrigo Duterte well. They have exhibited not only how lazy and heartless they are but also how they have enjoyed the red-tagging and killing spree against civilian activists,” said ICHRP Chairperson Peter Murphy.

    Previous peace talks have broken down because of the government’s lack of political will to pursue peace and sustainable development based on truth and justice. All the government wanted was for the New People’s Army to lay down their arms without resolving the roots of the armed conflict and implementing genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization. All the government cared about was to continue trampling on the people’s rights and plundering their communities. The contrived localized talks and granting of amnesty and payments to “surrenderees” are convenient for them because they corrupt these payments instead of really spending for genuine, sustainable development for all. This approach has not addressed the root causes of and will only prolong or make the conflict a vicious cycle.

    We reiterate our support for the new National Security Adviser Dr. Clarita Carlos’ call of doing away with the Duterte-Badoy NTF-ELCAC’s lazy, impatient, and blood-thirsty approach to ending the conflict. Let us all remember that the conflict remains because abuse, exploitation and oppression of the majority by the elite and their foreign masters remain and intensify. We urge Dr. Carlos and the Marcos administration to opt to work hard and smart – that is, to genuinely deliver social justice to all the marginalized and oppressed, which necessitates national-level peace talks.

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    Lumad Volunteer Teacher Arrested in Tandag City

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    Update as of July 21, 2022: the family was able to see Gary. He was brought to court at Bayugan branch for a trumped-up charge of attempted murder, but brought back to Butuan. A bail of P120K was recommended. If the bail is not paid within one week, he’ll be transferred to Bayugan Jail.

    Urgent Alert
    July 20, 2022

    The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) denounces the arrest of Gary S. Campos, a volunteer teacher of a community school in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur on Sunday, July 17 at around 1 pm.

    Campos was on his way to a teacher’s licensure exam review center when he was arrested by members of the Philippine National Police – Caraga.

    At around 8 pm of the same day, he was allowed to make a call to some friends to inform them that he was detained at the Butuan City Police Station. Campos told friends that he was presented a warrant of arrest for an unknown case.

    Campos is a Lumad-Manobo who graduated from the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) and the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV). He graduated with an education degree at the St. Theresa’s College-Tandag. After graduation, he volunteered as a teacher for TRIFPSS. Campos is also a member Malahuyatong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunid (MAPASU), a Lumad organization at the forefront in defending the Andap Valley Complex against foreign large-scale coal mining.

    This alert will be updated as soon as information is available.

    #FreeGaryCampos
    #DefendAndapValley
    #FreeAllPoliticalPrisoners