Dear friends,

I would like to share with you the recent statement of Asia Pacific Coordinating Committee for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines on the illegal arrest and detention of Sister Pat and attacks against human rights defenders in the Philippines.

Please see below and share to your networks and friends.

Thank you very much.

For APCCHRP secretariat,

Joram

Solidarity with the Filipino people against the rising tyranny and dictatorship is a noble cause
APCCHRP solidarity statement on the illegal arrest and detention of Sister Pat

The Asia Pacific Coordinating Committee for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (APCHRPP) condemns the illegal arrest and detention of Sister Patricia Fox, NDS, a missionary of the international Roman Catholic congregation of women Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, from the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion. Only through quick actions in the Philippines and overseas, the help of human rights lawyers and calls from church people and leaders was Sr. Pat released though she is still facing investigation.

Sister Pat, 71, (as Filipinos fondly called her), is an Australian missionary serving the poorest of the poor in many rural communities in the Philippines since 1990’s. She is involved in various community services and is an advocate of genuine agrarian reform and human rights. Sr. Fox recently joined an international fact finding and solidarity mission in Mindanao to look into the impact of the Duterte regime’s martial law and counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan on poor peasants in the island. Sr. Pat is also a consistent and untiring advocate of the rights of farmworkers in Hacienda Luisita, and of indigenous peoples, including the Lumad.

Political persecution of human rights defenders and activists is intensifying in the Philippines. Around the same time as Sr. Pat’s arrest, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Negros Occidental posted names and pictures of 60 personalities who were allegedly members of NPA that included a town councilor, lawyers, peasants and activists in the province.

Repression of the government has now extended to criminalizing solidarity. A day before Sr. Pat’s illegal arrest and detention, Italian citizen Giacomo Filibeck, Deputy Secretary General of the Party of European Socialists was barred from entering the Philippines and immediately deported from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport. Filibeck was part of an international human rights mission in October 2017 in the Philippines that looked into cases of extra-judicial killings and other forms of human rights violations under the Duterte government.

Who can also forget President Duterte’s warning to Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of the International Criminal Court that she will be barred from entering the country and will face arrest if the ICC pursues its investigation on Duterte’s accountability to extra-judicial killings of more than 13,000, mostly poor, Filipinos suspected of peddling illegal drugs?

These are the handiwork of Duterte government designed to sow fear and terror to human rights defenders, activist and solidarity friends of the Filipinos to quell them in bringing their legitimate struggle for land, justice and human rights at all levels.

Internationally solidarity has historically played an important role in the Filipino people’s struggle against dictatorship and tyranny from the period of the Marcos regime. Numerous groups and individuals from around the world have expressed support to the fight for human rights, justice and peace in the country. They have been instrumental in exposing abuses and crimes of past regimes. Moreover, international solidarity helps in saving the lives of Filipinos abroad like the Mary Jane Veloso.

This appears to be Duterte’s fear. International organizations and even United Nations offices have expressed concerns on killings due to the “drug war” and the terrorist tagging of many activists. The expanding solidarity support for the just struggles of the people is a grave threat to Duterte who has been relentless in attacking activists, media, the judicial branch of the government and all those who criticize his tyrannical rule.

APCCHRP together with other human rights groups in the region will never cease in raising our solidarity support to the struggle of Filipino and defending the human rights defenders and solidarity friends like Sister Pat. For we know standing in solidarity with Filipino people’s struggle for land, justice and human rights is never a crime. Moreover, standing with the Filipino people against the rising tyranny and dictatorship of Duterte government is a noble cause. ###

____________________
Rev. Joram H. Calimutan
Faith Partnership and Solidarity
Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants
No. 2 Jordan road, Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong
Telephone number: +852-2723-7536