Tell Congress: Stop supporting human rights abuses in the Philippines
The number of extrajudicial killings under President Duterte is now estimated at 30,000 and the Philippines has for the past several years been deemed one of the deadliest countries in the world for human rights defenders, journalists, and trade unionists. In July 2020, amid COVID-19 lockdowns, President Duterte signed the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 into law, which broadens the definition of terrorism and allows for suspects to be detained by the police or military without charges. Massacres, killings, and intimidation have become a regular occurrence under the Duterte regime. Church partners in the Philippines have also been targeted for attempting to hold the Duterte government accountable for its crimes.
Since 2016, the US has given at least $550 million in military aid and millions in arms sale to Philippine state forces that are responsible for most of the killings in the “war on drugs” as well as shootings of human rights defenders. Despite the overwhelming proof of grave human rights violations by the Duterte Administration, the US government continues to violate the Leahy Law, which prohibits the US government from using funds to assist foreign security forces that commit torture, extrajudicial killing, and enforced disappearance. US tax dollars should not be enabling killings and political persecution of journalists, human rights defenders, and activists.
The recently introduced Philippine Human Rights Act (H.R. 3884) blocks US funds for police or military assistance to the Philippines, including equipment and training, until such time as human rights conditions are met. Some of those conditions include investigating and prosecuting members of the military and police forces who are found to have violated human rights, withdrawing the military from domestic policing, and establishing protections for the rights of trade unionists, journalists, human rights defenders, indigenous people, small farmers, LGBTI activists, and critics of the government.
Learn more about the human rights situation our partners face by watching the webinar “Focus on the Philippines: Stop Red Tagging” and reading this recent Witness for Justice, “Red-Tagging the Gospel.”