Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines (CHRP) Press Release

Thursday 17 September 2009 (Embargoed until Friday 18 September 2009)

Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines (CHRP), an independent British-based human rights group, will protest alongside concerned members of the Filipino community on Friday, 18 September 2009, as the Philippine President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, delivers a keynote conference speech in London. President Arroyo is speaking at a conference sponsored by the Economist, whose central theme is emerging markets. She is expected to highlight economic growth in the Philippine economy.

However, the Reverend Canon Barry Naylor, Urban Canon of the Abbey and Holy Spirit Team Ministries in Leicester and President of CHRP, in an open letter to the president, noted “we do not believe that there can be any meaningful economic progress if the human rights of Filipino citizens are violated.” Canon Naylor lambasted Arroyo for being a head of state which stands accused of perpetrating and rewarding political killings, disappearances, torture and the violation of basic human rights.

“[These atrocities have] been investigated and documented by numerous United Nations bodies as well as other human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and the World Council of Churches,” continued Naylor in the group’s letter. The visit of President Arroyo virtually coincides with the release of another Amnesty statement, which raises concerns about the safety of human rights defenders after further recent extra-judicial killings.

“We will continue to make these issues known to the international community, gather wide support from the British public, and lobby both the UK government to put pressure on the Philippines to stop these human rights violations,” said Rafael Maramag, a volunteer advocate for CHRP.

President Arroyo has been criticized for her frequent travels abroad, most notably after reports of expensive dinners she enjoyed with her entourage during her latest visit to the US.

While in the UK, it is understood the Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and British First Secretary of State Lord Mandelson will sign the RP-UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. Recognising this, CHRP are calling for the UK Government to do more to focus on the poor implementation of the protection of human rights in the Philippines.

CHRP members plan to hand over their letter at the Philippine Embassy on the day of the protests, as well as distribute further copies at the demonstration.

On 21st October, CHRP will co-host with Amnesty International an event focusing on ‘enforced disappearances’ in the Philippines called “Abductions and Disappearances: Breaking the Chains of Impunity in the Philippines”. The main speakers will be Mrs Edith Burgos and her son JL, the mother and brother of the missing activist Jonas Burgos. They will highlight the serious and personal issues around the increasing number of ‘disappeared’ political activists.

– ENDS –

QUOTE: “Madame President, we call on you to stop the political killings and end the impunity of the armed forces in perpetrating murder, abductions and torture against the people of the Philippines,” concluded Rev. Naylor.

PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES: Photographs at the Protest Plaza Riverbank Hotel at Albert Embankment on 18 September at 3.15pm. Photographs, along with the stories of some of those killed, are available in JPEG format on request.