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International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) Gathers in Bangkok to Condemn US-Backed War Crimes of Philippine State and Commit to Growing Solidarity Movement for a Just and Lasting Peace

Press Release
November 11, 2023

Bangkok, Thailand— Over 100 human rights advocates from over 30 organizations across the globe held a 3 day conference and assembly to decry the implementation of US counterinsurgency tactics in the Philippines and to advance international defense of human rights under the new Marcos regime. 

Throughout the conference, human rights experts exposed the ongoing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including extra-judicial killings, disappearances, intensifying suppression of civil liberties, slanderous designation of respected leaders as terrorists via the Anti-Terror Act (ATA), and relentless red-tagging of activists, progressive organizations, and solidarity activists via the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

Edith Burgos of the Karapatan National Council, identified the counterinsurgency programs of the Marcos government as, “responsible for the steadily deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines and escalating violations of International Humanitarian Law directed against the Filipino people.”

Burgos’ criticism of Marcos counterinsurgency programs exposed the reality that the human rights atrocities committed by the Philippine military and police are not only aided and abetted by US military aid (over 1 billion US dollars since 2015) and the presence of nine US military bases in the country – but patterned after US counterinsurgency tactics. 

Suzanne Adely, President of the National Lawyers Guild, explained counterinsurgency as “the organized use of subversion and violence to seize, nullify, or challenge political control of a region.” She noted that the US has employed counterinsurgency tactics since its colonial operations in the Philippines began in 1898. She further pointed out how the use of the term “insurgency” attempts to delegitimize people’s resistance, including armed resistance, as “terrorism,” and drew parallels between the Palestinian people’s struggle for liberation and the Filipino people’s fight against the US-backed Marcos regime. 

Edre Olalia, President of the National Union of People’s Lawyers in the Philippines, explained the significance of International Humanitarian Law in the context of the current situation in the Philippines. Olalia expounded that contrary to US counterinsurgency doctrine, armed resistance movements in response to the severe oppression of peoples is legal under the Geneva conventions, and further emphasized the importance of the protection of civilians and non combatants in the context of civil war.