The International People’s Tribunal in Brussels, Belgium found Presidents Trump and Duterte guilty of human rights abuses. Two weeks later, the Philippine National Police held a public forum announcing a new “Police Community Relations” program in the U.S, to include the deployment of Philippine National Police (PNP) officials on both the East and West Coast.
This past Friday, October 5, at another public forum at the Philippine consulate in New York, members of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, an ICHRP member organization, as well as the Malaya Movement, confronted the PNP press conference to denounce Duterte’s killings and the presence of the PNP in the U.S, under the cry of “No War Criminals in the U.S.”. While Bayan and Malaya members raised their concerns, Duterte supporters at the scene shouted down the activists, resorting to physical aggression and assault against the protestors, resulting in injuries.
This most recent attack on Filipinos and allies outside the Philippines is a reflection of the weakening and desperate grasp of a U.S.-backed Duterte regime struggling to gain international support amidst growing international condemnation and organizing against the Duterte dictatorship. This summer, Duterte threatened deportation of Sister Pat, an Australian missionary in the Philippines who has dedicated over 20 years of her life to serving alongside farmers and indigenous people in their fight for self-determination. Similarly, Australian human rights advocate and Professor Gil Boehringer was deported from the Philippines this year, along with three United Methodist missionaries who also had recently gone on an international solidarity mission and recorded human rights violations perpetrated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The incident in New York is not the first harassment of Philippine human rights defenders on U.S. soil this year. During ICHRP-US and the Malaya Movement’s Stop the Killings Speaking Tour, state repression and the collaboration between the US and Duterte clearly emerged in the torture, harassment and deportation of peace activist Jerome Aba — Chairperson of the Suara Bangsamoro. He was targeted because he could speak to how U.S. aid and support in the destruction of Marawi and Duterte’s Martial Law was affecting the Filipino people.
Most recently, after the International People’ Tribunal found Trump and Duterte “guilty,” Duterte’s office was outspoken in calling the tribunal a “sham” despite the Tribunal’s reliance on the testimonies of victims, public officials, expert witnesses, lawyers and professionals from Philippines and around the globe. Duterte further threatened international human rights activists, saying, “ If I fell short, then as a Filipino, that is your right to criticize and even slam me if you want. I would never, never take it against you. . . . These Caucasians, they go here to look for our faults . . . Go ahead, one day if you run out of targets, and you want live fire and live human target, I will send three there, all of them white.”
While Duterte makes an appeal to the colonial history of the Philippines to repudiate European criticism and target international activists, Duterte’s programs and administration have ultimately remained subservient to one of the most blatantly racist and colonialist Presidents in Donald Trump. In practice, Duterte has not only sought and won the admiration of Trump for his war on drugs, but has ignored his early claims to abhor U.S. intervention in the Philippines, claiming $184.5 million in military AID from the U.S. in 2018, and recently agreeing to an increase in joint military operations between the U.S. and Philippine military. In reality, Duterte’s remarks are but a feeble facade to cover up the power of the international & multinational movement against his fascism.
The recent moves of Duterte to align with the former and current presidential powers — Marcos, Arroyo, and Trump — along with attempts to silence human rights defenders and any political opposition, and his new community police relations program in the U.S. — all indicate the instability of the Duterte Administration, the growing strength of the people’s movement in the Philippines and the relevance of international solidarity in challenging this worsening dictatorship. In light of these developments, ICHRP-US expresses its solidarity and support of human rights defenders in New York and in the Philippines and calls for a higher and more determined struggle across the U.S. against U.S. military aid to the Philippines and against U.S. support of Duterte’s dictatorship. The U.S.-Duterte Regime cannot silence us: No PNP in the U.S.! Long live International Solidarity!
Please donate to the International People’s Tribunal here and carry on its victories.