Activists undefeated by impeachment immunity ruling, pressuring US senators to take on PH human rights bill

President Rodrigo Duterte now faces a year of impeachment immunity, after a complaint on the so-called extra judicial killings was junked by the House of Representatives committee on justice for lacking substance.

But that won’t silence Filipino American activists from trying to raise the issue of the extra judicial killings in the Philippines. 

 “It’s natural. It’s always been if you control the Philippine Congress that will happen,” said Art Garcia of the Human Rights Alliance. “This is a chance to elevate the impeachment of the case. After the impeachment has been grounded, this is a chance to elevate the impeachment to the international criminal court.”

 “We have to encourage families of victims of extra judicial killings to come forward maski hindi miami,” said Ellecer Carlos. “I ano lang yung experience. Sooner of later we have to have the names of these people; we have to hold the president and his officials accountable.”

 Activists gathered at several points on Monday night to listen a report back from Ellecer Carlos of iDefend. 

Carlos is fresh off a month-long tour in Europe, attending the United Nations Periodic Review of Human Rights.

“It’s a human rights crisis, a multi-focal human rights crisis that must be addressed as a civil society the Filipino people eventually would have to cause the tide to turn,” he said, “to provide the critical opposition now that our Philippine institution, the two other branches of government, have been compromised. 

 While the Philippine constitution will shield Duterte from impeachment for a year, US-based human right activists will continue to push for a Senate bill. 

The bi-partisan Philippines Human Rights accountability and Counternarcotics Act of 2017 was introduced in the US Senate last month.

If passed, the bill would require the US Secretary of State to submit reports on human rights violations and drug sources and manufacturing to the US Congress. 

It would also give the Philippines $50 million to promote a public health approach to drug issues and to help victims of human rights violations. 

“We hope that we can influence the American people, as Ellecer said where there is no hope in the Philippines, the only hope that is in the horizon is abroad, especially here in the United States, just like the time of Marcos,” said Garcia. “The darker years in the Philippines, the opposition in the United States led by the Filipino American community made the sunshine brighter.”

 Activists will visit their US lawmakers in the coming weeks to ask them to co-sponsor the bill, as it makes its way through the legislative process. 

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