Filipinos and Advocates Announce US Wide Speaking Tour and Caravan for Peace and Justice in the Philippines
From April 20 – May 11, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines US Chapter and the Malaya Movement will host the Stop the Killings Speaking Tour: The People’s Caravan for Peace and Justice in the Philippines. The tour, which will feature human rights experts and survivors of human rights violations from the Philippines and US-based Filipinos and faith leaders, will span seven major US cities from coast to coast.
“The 14,000 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 take action now to stop him, 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 similar to 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.
Set to begin in Washington DC for Ecumenical Advocacy Days, the tour moves on to New York, Chicago, and on to the West Coast. ICHRP-US and the Malaya Movement invite friends of the Filipino people to join the caravan alongside the Stop the Killings tour bus, which has planned stops in Seattle, Portland, Oakland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
“As repression in the Philippines grows with the backing of Donald Trump, we call on all people to join the Filipino people in calling for an end to the killings in the Philippines,” said Lee. “We are seeking the broadest possible support and calling on the U.S. Senate to end US military aid to another fascist dictatorship in the Philippines.”
This year’s tour happens in wake of the 2017 Peace Tour, in which ICHRP-US hosted human rights advocates and indigenous people from the Philippines to advocate for the now stalled peace talks. “We remain steady in our call for the peace talks to resume between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the Philippine government” Alma Trinidad reiterated. “The voices of the people cannot go unheard until there is just and lasting peace in the Philippines.”