JPANet: Protect Human Rights in the Philippines!

PhilippinesAs the Philippines prepares for national elections on May 10, UCC church partners in the country are hoping international attention will shine a spotlight on the country’s ongoing human rights crisis.

Since 2001 the U.S. has provided significant military aid to the Philippines as an ally in the “war” on terrorism. A 2007 ecumenical report "Let the Stones Cry Out" echoes UN and human rights groups in documenting how the military and national police have conducted a campaign of extrajudicial killings, disappearances, and torture against human rights activists, labor and environmental leaders, journalists, and church leaders.

The U.S. State Department noted in its 2009 Human Rights Report that the Philippines Government is not adequately protecting its people from violence and abuse attributed to government-backed forces. Unlawful arrest, detention and abuse are common, and the courts fail to hold accountable authorities who abuse the law. Journalists, labor leaders and those who defend the rights of the poor, including church leaders belonging to our partner the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, have been targeted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the National Police, and government-armed private armies like the one behind the November 23 election massacre in Maguindanao.

The United States Government must condition all military assistance to the country on:

Pressure from the U.S. will help support a democratic vote this May, but will also hold the Government of the Philippines accountable to protect its people from violence and human rights abuses. The U.S. Congress appropriates funding to the State Department for foreign assistance. Congress must put strict human rights conditions on foreign military aid to the Philippines until the Government of the Philippines stops the campaign of violence and intimidation by government-backed forces against civilians.

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