Over the weekend on October 13, the Philippines won a three year term on the United Nations Human Rights Council despite widespread outcry against gross human rights violations and over 20,000 extrajudicial killings under the Duterte Administration in under two years.
Duterte’s office defended the new seat as an affirmation of Duterte’s attention to human rights. According to the President’s new spokesperson, Salvador Panelo, “The president’s campaign against illegal drugs, corruption, and criminality has, in effect, been acknowledged by the international community as essential to the protection of the right to life, liberty and property.” Meanwhile, two claims have been filed against the Duterte Administration with the International Criminal Court (ICC). Additionally, in September, the International People’s Tribunal (IPT) found both the Trump and Duterte Administration guilty of human rights violations in the Philippines.
Along with the ICC, the IPT and the mounting international opposition from rights groups to the human rights violations under President Duterte stand U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden. Senator Merkley has said he “will continue to press Duterte on his human rights record,” and Senator Wyden recently stated he has “very serious concerns about undertaking trade negotiations with a Philippine president who brags about a bloody drug war.”
Their comments were welcomed by groups advocating for human rights in the Philippines and campaigning to ensure U.S. tax dollars do not fund human rights abuses. In 2018 alone, the Trump administration has supported the Duterte administration with at least 184.5 million dollars of aid to the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Merkley and Wyden’s statements come after similar remarks from another U.S. Senator, Patrick Leahy, who in 2016 said, “if President Duterte is serious about improving conditions in the Philippines, he should be focusing on improving services for Filipinos, not casting them aside.”
Pam Tau Lee, Chairperson of ICHRP-US, stated, “The Philippines’ new seat on the United Nations is a horrifying development and farcical recognition of the Duterte Administration as an upholder of human rights. The time is now for heightened scrutiny from international bodies like the ICC and the UN. We call on others in the United States government to join Senators Merkley, Wyden and Leahy in opposing U.S. complicity in the drug war, and we call on the people of the United States to continue resistance to the misuse of tax dollars for war and human rights violations.”
Founded in December 2017, the U.S. Chapter of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines has 40 member organizations and honorary individual members. We aim to inform the international community about the grave human rights situation in the Philippines today. Beyond information dissemination, it calls on freedom loving peoples, organizations, political parties and governments all over the world to express their concern about the deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines and to join the Filipino people in their quest for just and lasting peace in the land.