May 22, 2020,
H. E. Mr Rodrigo Duterte,
President of the Republic of the Philippines
Strongest protest at red-tagging of foreign human rights defenders
On May 13, 2020, Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana alleged in a media conference that the US Chapter of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines is engaged in an armed struggle in the Philippines. This is an absurd and yet deadly allegation which we urge you to have withdrawn.
Secretary Lorenzana was responding to the recent ICHRP-US call for the funds for purchase of attack helicopters for the Armed Forces of the Philippines to be spent to support the people suffering through the COVID-19 epidemic.
Secretary Lorenzana said, “On the commentary on why we are going to purchase those helicopters — and that we should just channel the fund in those in need . . . . I agree with what these leftists are saying. But first you should end your armed struggle, so we will stop buying such arms. You’ve been waging your armed struggle for 50 years, and you’re just causing trouble, and you want us to stop importing arms, but you’ won’t stop fighting.”
In the Philippines context, this statement puts ICHRP-US in the order of battle of the AFP for elimination and must be roundly condemned. The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines is composed of civilian organisations based outside the Philippines. It is profoundly wrong to allege that these people are waging an armed struggle. In fact, ICHRP members work to enable a just and lasting peace in the Philippines.
We urge you and your government to conform to all the international human rights instruments to which the Philippines is a signatory, and to implment all the agreements already signed in the long process of peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines since 1992.
Peter Murphy, Chairperson, Global Council,
International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines
Cc: Mr Delfin Lorenzana, Secretary of the Department of Defence; Mr. Jose Luis Martin Gascon, Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights; Mr Antonio Guterres, United Nations; Ms Michelle Bachelet, UNHRHR; UN Special Rapporteur on EJK; DFAT Desk; Senator Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs; Senator Penny Wong; Senator Richard Di Natale, Andrew Wilkie MHR; Julia Dean.