The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Micelle Bachelet produced a report in June 2020 documenting thousands of extra-judicial killings and wide spread human rights abuses There are now growing calls for an independent UN investigation.
To increase the pressure for such an investigation human rights organisations and international NGOs have set up an independent investigation which will be producing human rights reports throughout 2021. This effort is being coordinated through the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) of which CHRP is a member.
End UK Government support for Duterte’s state terrorism
In September 2020 the Philippines Government passed an anti-terrorism law which enabled the government to classify almost any act of opposition or dissent as terrorism. President Duterte has launched a systematic programme of labeling lawyers, journalists, human rights defenders, trade unionists and others as terrorists. This frequently leads to their arrest or murder. Despite this, the UK Government provides military and “counter-terrorism” assistance to the Duterte Government. CHRP is calling for an end to such support while murder and human rights abuses are perpetrated under the guise of counter-terrorism.
In November 2020 CHRP and PHRG jointly organised a webinar about the Anti-Terrorism Act linking UK parliamentarians with lawyers and human rights defenders in the Philippines. The event was chaired by Stephen Kinnock the shadow minister for Asia. In February 2021 a second webinar was organised jointly organised by CHRP PHRG and the Great Britain Section of the Inter Parliamentary Union, which focussed on attacks and intimidation against parliamentarians in the Philippines. Following this event 27 MPs across the political parties signed a joint letter to the Philippine Government demanding justice for imprisoned Senator Leila De Lima.
During 2021 CHRP has more activities and events planned to oppose the UK’s military, surveillance and counter-terrorism exports to the Philippines.
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Support the Lumad Schools
Lumad indigenous peoples in Mindanao have been resisting the incursions of large mining companies onto their lands. The Philippines Government accuses the Lumad of supporting communist rebels. In July 2017 President Duterte threatened to bomb Lumad communities. Since then they have been under regular attack by the military. Lumad schools have been very strongly targeted. According to the Save Our Schools Network 178 Lumad schools have been shut down since 2016, and from March to May 2021 there were 32 attacks on Lumad schools.
In 2018 CHRP member Dara Bascara visited some of the Lumad schools. When she came back she raised money to support them. Following her tragic death in 2021, her family set up the Dara Bascara Memorial Fund to collect donations to support Lumad schools.
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Extra-judicial killings and the “war against drugs”
After his election in 2016, President Duterte launched his so-called “war against drugs” which Amnesty International has dubbed a war against the poor. With estimates of over 30,000 extra-judicial killings, the International Criminal Court is launching an investigation against the President for crimes against humanity.
CHRP supported film producers making a BBC Storyville documentary on extra-judicial killings. CHRP and Amnesty International UK organised a special pre-broadcast showing of the film and a question and answer session with producer James Jones. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0009m86.
In 2019, CHRP and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) brought the Philippine theatre production Tao Po to London. The play featuring Mae Paneer gives a human face to the victims and even the assassins involved in the extra-judicial killings. The event also brought the mother of one of the victims to speak to the audience.
CHRP also gave showings to two short documentaries – ‘The Mortician of Manila’ and ‘The Nightcrawlers’. Both covered President Duterte’s war on drugs but from different angles.