Karapatan: Bill seeking to block US aid to AFP, PNP, a strong statement vs Duterte’s campaign of State terror

Amid growing international condemnation on the Duterte administration’s human rights violations in the Philippines, human rights alliance Karapatan said that passing the Philippine Human Rights Act in the United States — which seeks to block or suspend US government funding for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) — “is a strong statement against Duterte’s brutal campaign of State terror, unbridled repression, and mass murder in the Philippines.”

“For decades, the US has funded State violence and State-perpetrated human rights violations in the Philippines through aid to the AFP and PNP under the guise of counterinsurgency, counterterrorism and crime prevention, and these violations have worsened under the Duterte administration. It is imperative for freedom-loving Americans to support the Philippine Human Rights Act — and we call on them to stand against the Trump administration and its support for Duterte, and to stand in solidarity with Filipinos in our struggle for justice,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay stated.

The Philippine Human Rights Act was formally introduced yesterday, September 24 (Manila time), by Pennsylvania Rep. Susan Wild and co-sponsored by 24 Democrat lawmakers, including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Wild, in her speech before the US Congress, cited the recent passage of the widely opposed Anti-Terrorism Act in the Philippines and how it is being used as a pretext to “ramp up efforts targeting labor organizers, workers and political opponents.”

From 2016 to 2019, the US has provided the Philippine military aid amounting to $554 million — making the Philippines the largest recipient of US military aid in Southeast Asia. The $554 million-military aid included $267 million worth of bombs, arms, bullets, and other war matériel that AFP has used in its brutal counterinsurgency campaigns, which has resulted to bombings and forced displacements of communities along with widespread killings, abductions, tortures, and other grave human rights abuses which have particularly targeted activists and human rights defenders especially in far-flung countryside communities. 

Palabay continued that “along with supporting the Philippine Human Rights Act, the international community must continue to help pursue efforts to hold Duterte accountable for his human rights violations and attacks against the Filipino people by supporting the call to junk Duterte’s terror law, to abolish the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, and for the United Nations Human Rights Council to conduct an independent investigation into these cases of human rights violations in country.” 

“Duterte is already an international pariah as the Filipino people’s resistance to his fascist rule, with the support of the international community, grow stronger by the day. Duterte and his cohorts will face the consequences of his crimes against the Filipino people,” the Karapatan officer ended.