Migrante International denounces the March 13th press briefing held by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Presidential Communications Office (PCOO) as a desperate attempt to silence the growing people’s movement in the Philippines and in the international community who are outspoken and critical of the large-scale human rights violations committed by the Duterte Administration.
The Philippine government’s so-called “truth mission” to Europe to discredit and malign respected people’s organizations and institutions who for decades have been bravely defending the human rights of the poor, most oppressed and marginalized in Philippine society only exposes their failed efforts to cover up their shameful record.
It is clear from the presentation given by Brigadier General Antonio Parlade and other government officials that they did not have sufficient evidence and documentation to prove to the officials of the European Union, Belgian Foreign Ministry and United Nations that certain Filipino people’s organizations they are giving financial support to are linked to “terrorist groups”. Their list of legal organizations supposedly acting as cover for “terrorist organizations” is baseless and becomes a target list for harassment, surveillance and killings carried out by the State with impunity.
While they boast to European officials that human rights are being “promoted, protected, and fulfilled” in the Philippines, people’s organizations throughout the country have diligently and carefully documented countless data, testimonies and stories of systematic violations of civil, economic, social and political rights of the Filipino people, including the killings of human rights defenders since Duterte took office.
Meanwhile, the Philippine government’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) likewise proves that the Duterte regime is hell-bent on quashing actions that undertake independent and impartial probe into the human rights situation in the Philippines. Migrante International wholly supports the statement of ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda vowing to continue the preliminary investigation into the killings under President Duterte’s fake war on drugs that has claimed thousands upon thousands of lives.
It is the right of the most oppressed sectors of Philippine society to expose the truth about their conditions and express their outrage at their government who is responsible for the systemic injustices they are facing everyday. It is not a crime for people’s organizations to actively engage in advocacy, education and lobbying efforts and utilize international platforms such as the United Nations to lift up their grave concerns. It is not a crime nor a “scam” if the Filipino people forms alliances, coalitions and partnerships with other people’s organizations all over the world who are similarly struggling for the same basic human rights which they are denied by their own governments. International solidarity is not “an obligation of developed countries to help developing countries” but a duty of oppressed peoples all over the world who are fighting for genuine democracy, freedom, peace and justice to support each other.
Migrante International fully supports immediate investigations and fact-finding missions by the UN, EU and International Criminal Court to understand the real human rights situation in the Philippines.