By VANESSA K. LUCAS
Chairperson, Philippines Subcommittee of the International Committee
National Lawyers Guild
The National Lawyers Guild, as a convenor of the International People’s Tribunal (IPT), wishes to respond to the comments made by Ms. Loida Nicolas Lewis on Balitang America following the verdict of the IPT finding the Aquino and US Governments are:
- 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 exploitative, neoliberal, “free market” globalization; transgression of their economic sovereignty and plunder of their national patrimony and economy; and attacks on the people’s livelihoods and 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.
Ms. Lewis claims that the Defendants were not given their day in court. However, she fails to mention that the Defendants were served the indictment by certified mail, return receipt requested, through the Embassy of the Philippines, the US State Department, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization on July 6, 2015. The Defendants were given an opportunity to submit an answer in writing and/or appear personally to answer the charges. The Defendants were asked to respond as to if and how they would participate. They were informed that a failure to do submit and answer would be deemed as a waiver of the right to present a defense. The IPT program gave time for the defense to make appearances and present evidence. While due process was followed and the Defendants had the opportunity to be heard, they chose not to exercise that right.
Ms. Lewis further attacks the tribunal by asking where they were during the time of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. This is ill-informed as not only does the IPT touch on the issues of violations by Arroyo that are being carried on through Aquino’s regime, but shows her ignorance to the 2007 Permanent People’s Tribunal in March 2007 in The Hague which deliberated on an indictment against the Arroyo regime and US Government.
Ms. Lewis attacks the credibility of the IPT. The jurors that deliberated on the indictment are well respected lawyers, academics, award winning social activists and church leaders with exemplary backgrounds. They heard witnesses testimony and reviewed and found credible documentary evidence. Ms. Lewis has no counter to the allegations by witnesses and brings up no argument that the witnesses are less than credible, but only makes empty accusations.
Further, Ms. Lewis tries to distract from the purpose of the tribunal by bringing up issues with China’s influence in the Philippines that are outside the scope of the indictment and witness testimony. Ms. Lewis goes on to verbalize her support of the EDCA, which puts her obviously on the side of the Aquino and US government.
Ms. Lewis is incorrect. This IPT will have an impact. She fails to realize that the majority of Filipinos do not live her lavish lifestyle and are being greatly harmed by the current regimes’ policies. Ms. Lewis also fails to realize that the international community cares about the people of the Philippines and will make their voices heard. The NLG invites Ms. Lewis and/or those representing her views to discuss further the findings of the IPT with the NLG and fellow conveners of the IPT in a public forum.
Vanessa K. Lucas
Chair Philippines Subcommittee of the International Committee
National Lawyers Guild
IPT Opening Day, Report on Service of Indictment: