NEW YORK — “They can try all they want to silence dissent, but we will rise and remain committed to fighting for justice.”
When freedom and democracy are under attack in the Philippines, Filipino human rights advocates in the U.S. and in the Philippines are making sure to come together to fight back.
The Malaya Movement, together with their community allies, launched via a Zoom press con this week the Philippine Human Rights Act – a call to stop the U.S. government from sending aid to the Philippines, and to withdraw an upcoming U.S. arms sale to the Duterte administration for as long as alleged human rights violations continue.
They accused the Philippines government of using the COVID-19 pandemic to impose a martial rule-like implementation of lockdowns, and instill fear among people, like during Duterte’s April 1 presidential speech.
“I’m addressing the left with your attacks, slamming the distribution (process). Don’t do anything stupid or stage riots.”
Interestingly, a chunk of the president’s speech was deleted from the presidential broadcast channel’s youtube post of the April 1 speech.
“To the police and military, as well as village officials, if there is any trouble, or occasions where there is violence and if your life is in danger, shoot them dead.”
GABRIELA women’s party rep Arlene Brosas said the Duterte administration’s response to COVID-19 resulted to more human rights violations.
“Instead of mass testing and contact tracing, the administration gave Filipino mass arrest and critic tracing, instead of romping up medical solutions, it has focused on military action and fascism to silence growing dissent.”
Gabriela claimed that more than 171,000 have been apprehended for quarantine violations since the onset of the lockdown in march in the Philippines — that’s an average of close to 3,000 civilian arrests a day.
Government officials violating the quarantine rules were not held accountable.
Human rights advocates also slammed the Duterte administration for a pending purchase of nearly $2 billion worth of attack helicopters and other military weapons – amid the pandemic.
“Where will this lead? Again, more displacement, more distraction houses of the farming community of Mindanao, specifically the Moro and the Lumad community.”
“I hope you can join us today not to fund another penny to fund death squads.”
Activists are not only hoping U.S. lawmakers will put a stop to the arms deal, but to also support the Philippine Human Rights act and champion the rights of the Filipino people.