Tell Congress: Stop Supporting Human Rights Violations in the Philippines
The number of extrajudicial killings under former President Duterte is 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. Massacres, killings, and intimidation became a regular occurrence under the Duterte regime. Church partners in the Philippines were also targeted for attempting to hold the Duterte government accountable for its crimes. The new President, Bongbong Marcos, the son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and Vice President Sara Duterte, the daughter of the former President, have endorsed Duterte’s war on drugs meaning the human rights situation continues to deteriorate.
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. This spring, the United States also upped military support for the Marcos regime, agreeing with the Philippines to establish 4 new US military sites under the expansion of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. The US also agreed to new Bilateral Military guidelines which calls for increasing US support and cooperation with so called “counter-terror” and “whole of nation” programs like the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, the government task force which is mostly responsible for red tagging and targeting civilians and community activists.
Despite the overwhelming proof of grave human rights violations, 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.
The 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.