The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP-Canada), joins the Filipino people, human rights defenders, peace advocates and international human rights groups in marking the 73rd International Human Rights Day.
We honour activists, human rights defenders as we gain inspiration from them to work for justice and defend people’s rights, especially the poor and marginalized.
We are deeply concerned about the exponential rise in human rights violations and war crimes in counterinsurgency. Under Duterte, the Philippines has become a killing ground for alleged drug suspects, Moro communities, political dissidents, community organizers, indigenous peoples, and human rights advocates. The Duterte regime has institutionalized the killing of dissenters, placing human rights defenders and government critics and all those working to improve the lives of ordinary Filipinos in grave danger. As recently as this week, the regime was conducting aerial bombardment campaigns against civilian targets in Panay Island. Indiscriminate bombing of civilians constitutes a war crime and crime against humanity under Geneva conventions.
Investigate PH and the UN Human Rights Council had undertaken meticulous documentation of the crimes of the Duterte regime. These bodies have exposed Duterte’s bloody “War on Drugs” resulting in the extrajudicial killings of tens of thousands. Investigate PH also built upon the work of the Human Rights Council by collecting and documenting evidence on the Duterte administration’s wars on dissenters and on the Moro people.
The ICC launched an investigation into the Human Rights violations committed during the War on Drugs in June of 2021 Despite countless testimonies from witnesses and evidence gathered from human rights organizations such as Karapatan, Rise Up for Life and Rights, and others, the Duterte government issued a request to the ICC to suspend the investigation, stating that all murders were an act of self defence and that the actual account of violations were not as many as reported. As per protocol of the ICC, and to widespread outcry from the international community, the request was granted and the investigation partially suspended in early December 2021.
The creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF- ELCAC), the July 2020 Anti-Terror Law (ATL), and increasingly, the justice system are institutionalizing repression that broadly harms civil society, from alleged communists to churches to long-standing democratic institutions.
With the NTF-ELCAC budget cut down by the Senate from PhP 28 billion to PhP 10.8 billion, it brandishes piecemeal projects as solutions to the armed conflict. Yet, the long history of armed revolution in the country is rooted in much deeper problems of landlessness and socio-economic injustice – problems which are accentuated by the current economic recession and pandemic. Armed conflict can only be resolved by genuinely addressing its roots and striving for a lasting peace based on justice.
Domestic remedies have failed, elements of the judiciary are complicit in the War on Dissent, using the bench to support military and police attacks on dissenters by providing broad powers though warrants of search and arrest that frequently end in the untimely deaths of the accused. The courts are just one element in the entire machinery of the state which has been weaponized in the fascist whole-of-nation approach to target regime dissident.
ICHRP Canada stands in solidarity and supports the Filipino people’s demand for a clear and unequivocal position for a policy against the killings and other human rights violations.
For justice and accountability, ichrp-canada calls on the duterte government to:
- Abolish NTF-ELCAC.
- Put a stop to extrajudicial killings in the counterinsurgency and drug war campaigns; bring all perpetrators to be held accountable for these crimes.
- Facilitate the immediate release of ALL Political Prisoners! Uphold the rights of citizens against unwarranted and unjustified arrest and detention and correct the injustice against them.
WE URGE THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY AND INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS:
- To stand with the victims and those who struggle for democracy and human rights.
- We urge the International Criminal Court to pursue its case against the Philippines and Duterte to follow the evidence and give voice to the victims.
- We urge the UNHRC to conduct its own independent investigation of the Philippines.
- We call on the International Labour Organization to escalate its High Level Tripartite Mission to the Philippines.
- We call on democratic governments to pursue justice and give no sanctuary to the perpetrators of human rights violations and crimes against humanity by using Magnitsky sanctions against Duterte and his criminal cabal.