By RUDY D. LIPORADA
Set to begin on April 20, 2018 in Washington DC and to culminate on May 11, 2018 in Los Angeles, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) and the Malaya Movement – USA (MMUSA) are hosting a Stop the Killings Speaking Tour in mainland USA. The advocacy caravan will move from DC to New York, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Oakland, San Francisco, and on to Los Angeles where a rally at the Philippine Consulate will be held.
Menchie Caliboso, an advocate with the MMUSA, quotes the position paper of the ICHRP for the rationale of the tour, saying “The human rights crisis in the Philippines continues to worsen under Philippine President Duterte’s regime. While the number of extrajudicial killings rise as innocent poor people and even faith-based leaders become victims to the 20,000 that have already perished in Duterte’s attacks on the Filipino people, we call for the deepest solidarity with the Filipino people and the broadest opposition to stop the killings, end U.S. military aid, and prevent another fascist dictatorship in the Philippines.”
“The 20,000 extrajudicial killings in the Philippines continue to climb in number,” said Pam Tau Lee, Chairperson of ICHRP-US. “But beyond the gross number of killings, we see the Filipino people are under attack. Under Martial Law and a heightened crackdown on activists, the basic rights of the people are being thwarted. As fellow human rights advocates and faith leaders, we are glad to announce a U.S. Wide Tour Speaking Tour and Caravan against the killings and the growing repression in the Philippines.”
Since the Government of the Philippines’ cancellation of peace talks with the National Democratic Front amidst a 50-year civil war, a rising dictatorship has emerged under the regime of Rodrigo Duterte. While the Filipino people have remained steadfast in the struggle for just and lasting peace, upholding demands for the basic social and economic reforms, President Duterte, like his hero Marcos, has paid no heed to the basic rights of the people. In just over a year and a half as President, Duterte has committed 14,000 killings against poor and innocent Filipinos; encouraged soldiers to rape; placed human rights activists, like UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, on a terrorist list; and, he is pushing legislation that would result in the extension of his Presidency beyond the current limitations set by the Philippine constitution.
Alma Trinidad, Co-Convener of Malaya: A US Movement Against Killings and Dictatorship, and for Democracy in the Philippines, stated: “Our Inang Bayan/Motherland, the Philippines, needs our voice and support now more than ever. Duterte is following in the footsteps of the Iron Fist rule of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos. As Filipinos in the United States, we must take a stand, speak up, and to act now to stop him for his mentality and sense of governance. Oppression there in the motherland is oppression here for us in the U.S.”
While the crisis in the Philippines has worsened, the U.S. has expanded support for the growing fascist regime. Trump has expressed admiration for Duterte and the drug war in the Philippines and has promise more military AID while secretly beginning a new military endeavor, Operation Pacific Eagle, which creates provisions for endless spending like what occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan in the war on terror. Within the past week, the U.S. provided 13.5 million dollars’ worth of surveillance drones to the Philippine military that continues to commit crimes against human rights defenders.
Dubbed The People’s Caravan for Peace and Justice in the Philippines, the tour will kick off with a Philippine Workshop at the Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD) and Senate Hearing in Washington DC. The caravan will travel through major cities in the US to bring peace and justice loving community members, faith leaders, government representatives, and solidarity allies the opportunity to bear witness to the testimonies of resource persons from the Philippines who have witnessed the grave human rights abuses in the country.
Ending in Los Angeles, the human rights speakers will be feted with dinner to further share their insights on the extra judicial killings in the Philippines at La Plaza UMC, 115 Paseo De La Plaza in Los Angeles on May 10, 2018. This will be followed next day, May 11, with the rally at the Philippine Consulate at 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, commencing at 12:00 pm.
The tour will be capped at 6:30pm on May 11 with a Malaya Mixer and performances at 435 South Occidental Blvd, Los Angeles. Delegates and other attendees would be able to mingle with national and local Malaya leaders and to discuss ways how to further build the movement on how to help towards change in the Philippines, specifically on stopping the killings in the Islands. Included in the presentations will be live performances by artists featured in the Rock the Mic for Human Rights in the Philippines album compilation. # nordis.net