British parliamentarians, int’l rights activists support call for peace and people’s rights in PH

Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom (UK) and activists from Hongkong, Canada and Germany expressed their support for the continuation of the Philippine government peacetalks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), as well as their concern on the continuing violations on people’s rights in the Philippines, in the light of reported political killings of farmers and indigenous peoples.  

In an early day motion a tabled on February 7, 2017, six UK parliamentarians led by Mark Durkan implored the members of the British House of Commons to welcome the “progress in the peace talks between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to end armed conflict and agree on a socio-economic reform agenda.” Through the said motion, the MPs also expressed “hopes that constructive negotiations will continue.”

Through the motion, the six MPs also enjoin members of House of Commons to support the call to “encourage(s) the Government of the Philippines to move forward with a peace agreement with the National Democratic Front …to release remaining political prisoners and to abide by its international human rights obligations more generally.”

They also appealed to the House of Commons to call on the UK Government “to support the peace talks and to raise its concerns about the war on drugs and the possible reintroduction of the death penalty in the Philippines.” The said motion has been supported by twenty-two (22) MPs, as of February 17.

The Hong Kong Campaign for the Advancement of Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (HKCAHRPP), a solidarity campaign and advocacy network for just peace and human rights in the Philippines, expressed serious concern on “the recent pronouncement of President Duterte that tags the CPP/NPA/NDF as “terrorists” and orders the immediate arrest of all protected personnel under JASIG.” HKCAHRPP also expressed alarm at “the declaration of an “all-out war” against the revolutionary movement by no less than the secretary of the Department of National Defense.” The network also stated their support for the continuation of the GRP and NDFP peace talks.

“History has taught us that a military solution will never succeed in ending the country’s decades-old civil war. It will only aggravate the anger and worsen social unrest as the vast majority of the Filipino people continue to suffer from abject poverty, landlessness, exploitation and systemic injustice in the hands of a few and powerful elites ruling the country. Just like in previous administrations, massive militarization intensifies human rights violations in the form of abductions, extrajudicial killings, disappearances, the filing of trumped-up charges and the like against political activists, human rights defenders and justice and peace advocates among the peasants, national minorities, workers, women, youth, professionals, church people,” said HKCAHRPP in a statement by its convenors Bruce Van Voorhis and Ma Wan-ki “Majai.”

HKCAHRPP is composed of migrant organizations, local and regional rights NGOs, labor groups, lawyers, journalists, Church-based institutions and individual human rights advocates and defenders. It was established in 2006, two years after several striking farmers were killed by the members of the national police in what is now known as the “Hacienda Luisita Massacre”. It was also a response to the spate of extrajudicial killings of activists and human rights defenders in the Philippines.

Berlin-based international human rights group Human Rights Matter and the Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada sent letters to President Rodrigo Duterte to urge for an immediate independent investigation on the recent killings of peasant leaders Venie Diamante, Veronico Delamente, Alexander Ceballos, and Wencislao Pacquiao. 

“The Philippines is obliged by its domestic and international law obligations to ensure investigation of the unlawful killing of Veronico L. Delamente, that results in determinations of the causes and particulars of his death, identification of the suspected perpetrators and the prosecution, trial and imposition of the punishment(s) required by law on those convicted of involvement. The investigations to date of the death of Veronico L. Delamente, have been plagued by lack of public confidence and by demonstrations of incompetence,” Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada stated.  

Human Rights Matter deplored the killing of the four peasant leaders and called on the Philippine government “to prosecute and bring to justice of the alleged perpetrators, to stop targeting human rights defenders and leaders of social organizations, and to immediately quash and suspend the so called ‘counter-insurgency programs’ which is serving as a pretext in targeting innocent human rights activists and local leaders.” The organization also called on Duterte to “move towards the advancement of a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) which is deemed to be a step forward in addressing landlessness in the countryside.” ###

Copy of the UK Parliamentarians motion can be accessed through
Copies of statements of Hong Kong Campaign for the Advancement of Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (HKCAHRPP), Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), and Human Rights Matter (HRM) are available upon request.