18 September 2009

Dear President Arroyo,

Your visit to London aims to discuss economic development in the Philippines. We do not believe that there can be any meaningful economic progress if the human rights of Filipino citizens are violated.

Madame President, you are the head of a state which stands accused of perpetrating and rewarding political killings, disappearances, torture, and the violation of basic human rights. This situation has been investigated and documented by numerous United Nations bodies as well as human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and the World Council of Churches.

In November 2007 the report of Philip Alston the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Summary or Arbitrary Executions concluded that in the Philippines: “the Armed Forces have followed a deliberate strategy of hunting down the leaders of leftist organisations” and have  “eliminated civil society leaders, including human rights defenders, trade unionists and land reform advocates”. In May 2009 the United Nations Committee on Torture (UNCAT) reported the “routine and widespread use of torture” in the Philippines and a “climate of impunity”. In September 2009 a high level ILO Mission will visit the Philippines in response to “serious allegations of the murder of trade unionists, death threats, arrests of trade union leaders …and the militarization of workplaces in export processing zones and special economic zones.”

For the first half of 2009, the Philippines human rights organization Karapatan has documented 34 victims of extrajudicial killings, bringing the total recorded for the period from 21 January 2001 to 30 June 2009, to 1,032. In the same period the number of enforced disappearances came to 202. Only this week Amnesty International released a further public statement raising concerns about the safety of human rights defenders and calling on the Government to stand by its publicly stated commitment to the UN in 2008 not just to decrease political killings and enforced disappearances, but also to effectively implement reform in its witness protection program.

Madame President, we call on you to stop the political killings and to end the impunity of the armed forces in perpetrating murder, abduction and torture against the people of the Philippines.

Yours sincerely,
Canon Barry Naylor
President, Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines