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San Francisco — Filipino community groups, human rights advocates, and faith and civic leaders part of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) rallied in front of the Philippine Consulate the evening of October 26 to demand an end to killings related both to Philippine President Duterte’s drug policies and to the U.S.-backed counter-insurgency plan “Oplan Bayanihan.”
Protesters highlighted the real life impacts of the killings and presented a platform of socio-economic reforms related to land, employment, housing, and education as a more comprehensive and lasting solution to the drug problem and poverty in the Philippines.
Honorata Nono of PAWIS East Bay and Migrante Northern California shared the story of a member that had lost her family member to the Drug War: “Her cousin was killed in front of his wife and children based on suspicions that he is a drug pusher. Her concern and our concern is the lack of due process. We do not support these killings. What we need is rehabilitation and more oversight over the PNP. And the real solution to the drug problem and poverty in the Philippines: socio-economic reform! Housing, livelihood, education, and land!”
Roberta Ryan of Anakbayan East Bay recounted her experience being in the Philippines on October 19 during the violent dispersal of Moro and Indigenous Peoples called SANDUGO who were protesting US-backed state repression and plunder of their ancestral land: “I had to watch as on the frontline the youth and student leaders and the community I integrated with were violently dispersed and beaten with batons by the PNP. I saw the tear gas shoot in the air and just as I was about to run away, I saw the van back up so violently that I knew it was with the intent to kill. As I was running away because the tear gas was hitting my eyes, I heard the hoses turn on and all I could think was did one of my comrades die from that van?”
Roberta continued: “The PNP & the AFP is still serving the interest of US Imperialism. As Duterte is calling for a ceasefire between the revolutionary forces and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Oplan Bayanihan is still being implemented and indigenous and peasant leader are still being killed… If the US is so interested now in the extra-judicial killings happening from this drug wars. What about the countless extra-judicial killings that have been happening for decades, or the 500+ political prisoners who are currently locked up for their activism & political beliefs, what about the 29 who were arrested that day at the US embassy or the 50+ who were injured and 11 who were hospitalized. Where is the US speaking out against those human rights violations?”
Alice Loaiza of Marcha Patriotica – Colombia shared a statement of solidarity: “Colombia and the Philippines are brothers and sisters in struggle. As you are fighting to establish a peace process, we are doing the same. Just as in the Philippines, in Colombia the peasants must have land, we need to have schools, we need medical care. Our histories have much in common as does our resistance. It is important to unite internationally all who are standing up for the rights of the people for a human and dignified life, for a life without exploitation. Let’s make the Bay Area a concrete place of international solidarity of people’s struggles from all corners of the world. Marcha Patriotica from Colombia supports the struggle of the Filipino people. Viva la lucha contra el imperialismo! Long live the struggle of the Filipino people for their freedom!”
Aurora Victoria David of ICHRP Northern California Network read a statement from Reverend Izzy Alvaran of the National Ecumenical Forum for Filipino Concerns: “It is with great sadness that people of faith witness the killings of person without due process of justice. This desecration of life is detestable and cannot be the foundation of any just society. We call on the government of the Philippines to stop the killings of purported drug addicts and dealers, knowing that this is an intentional disregard for the root causes of the drug problems besetting the Philippines. We cannot shy away from naming poverty and political oppression as sources of these problems. A political and economic system that values the rich over the poor has no room in a community that wants to build a peace that seeks justice as its foundation.
It is the right of every nation to be self-sufficient and its sovereignty should be held in highest esteem. We call on the government of the Philippines to pursue an independent foreign policy that does not cater to one imperial power over another, but stand with the community of nations struggling against any imperial power that promotes colonial relationships and political patronage. Any intervention in the policies of the Philippines by the United States and any foreign power should be condemned by the Filipino people.”
Adrian Bonifacio, Chairperson of ANAKBAYAN-USA represented the voice of youth and students demanding justice for the lives lost in the Philippines: “Imagine if us here today, human rights defenders, if while we’re standing here, a car was to jump on the curb and run over all of us. Imagine if the person to your left or to your right was suddenly arrested and thrown into a cage on trumped up charges. Imagine if they were shot in cold blood. My comrades, this is the situation of people in the Philippines who are defending their lives and defending their right to their land. They can not be silenced and today we stand in solidarity with them.”
Livestream videos of the rally available at: bit.ly/stopthekillings. Interviews available upon request.
The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) Northern California is a network of organizations, and faith, civic, and environmental justice leaders concerned about the human rights situation in the Philippines and committed to a campaign for just and lasting peace in the country. For more on the campaign, follow #JustPeacePH or visit www.humanrightsphilippines.net
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