FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Stop U.S. Funding for Human Rights Abuses in the Philippines

Hawaii and the Philippines share a long history. The expansion of the U.S. beyond the North American continent began with the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893.

With its victory in the Spanish-American War of 1898, the U.S. gained control over the Philippines, Guam, Cuba and Puerto Rico. The Philippines was a colonial possession of the U.S. from 1899 until 1946, except for the period of Japanese military occupation during World War II.

While the Philippines nominally gained independence in 1946, the 1947 Military Bases Agreement (MBA) guaranteed U.S. possession of Clark Air Base and the Subic Bay Naval Base, formerly the largest overseas U.S. bases. In response to a growing anti-bases, anti-nuclear movement of Filipinos, the Philippine Senate rejected the extension of the MBA in 1991 and U.S. control of the bases ended.

However, after Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan in 2013, the U.S. military provided disaster relief and, in 2014, the Philippine government agreed to grant the U.S. access to and use of Philippines bases.

In May 2017, a battle for Marawi City in Mindanao between Islamic State-inspired groups and the Philippine Army led to increased U.S. military involvement in the Philippines. The U.S. military claims it seeks to win the hearts and minds of the people of Mindanao while also providing combat training to the Philippine Army.

Through Operation Pacific Eagle, an “overseas contingency operation” not subject to congressional spending limits, the U.S. provided $100 million last year in military aid, and this aid is projected this year to increase to $108 million. In fiscal 2018, the U.S. sold the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and the Philippine National Police over $63 million in arms. It also donated 2,253 machine guns and over 5 million rounds of ammunition. All in all, over $184 million was given to the Philippine military and police in 2018.

While the announced intent of this U.S. aid is to combat ISIS and support the Philippines as a bulwark against China’s expansion in the South China Sea, the truth is this aid goes to support President Rodrigo Duterte’s oppressive regime.

While Mindanao has been under martial law since 2017, the Philippines as a whole is now under de facto martial law, with arbitrary killings and jailings now increasingly commonplace.

Since Duterte became president in June 2016, more than 27,000 individuals have been killed. The majority of these killings have been extrajudicial killings (EJKs) of the poor who have been labeled drug users or drug traffickers.

In EJKs, police, military operatives or unknown persons accost or apprehend individuals on the street or at their homes and shoot them without trial.

More recently the regime is targeting human rights advocates, labor organizers, farmers, indigenous people and persons the regime views as opponents.

Fourteen farmers were recently killed by the police in Negros. Several human rights attorneys and advocates have been assassinated and journalists threatened and jailed.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned these killings, detentions and human rights abuses of the Duterte administration. For its part, the government claims that the number of EJKs is closer to 5,000, but isn’t that 5,000 too many?

The U.S. government is helping to fund these atrocities and abuses by providing funds, training and arms to those who are carrying out these killings.

We in Hawaii need to contact our congressional representatives to urge them to stop our government from funding the perpetrators of these human rights violations in the Philippines.

JOHN WITECK is a retired labor unionist and human resources who currently works part-time for the State Department of Education and is a lecturer at the Honolulu Community College. He has been hosted on four occasions by labor, community, and human rights organizations in the Philippines and attended International Solidarity events. He edited the bimonthly periodical Philippine Labor Alert for over a decade. SEIJI YAMADA is a family physician practicing and teaching in Hawaii.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
September 20, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Unipolar Governance of the Multipolar World
Rob Urie
Strike for the Environment, Strike for Social Justice, Strike!
Miguel Gutierrez
El Desmadre: The Colonial Roots of Anti-Mexican Violence
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Pompeo and Circumstance
Andrew Levine
Why Democrats Really Should Not All Get Along But Sometimes Must Anyway
Louis Proyect
A Rebellion for the Wild West
T.J. Coles
A Taste of Their Own Medicine: the Politicians Who Robbed Iranians and Libyans Fear the Same for Brexit Britain
H. Bruce Franklin
How We Launched Our Forever War in the Middle East
Lee Hall
Mayor Obedience Training, From the Pet Products Industry
Louis Yako
Working in America: Paychecks for Silence
Michael D. Yates
Radical Education
Jonathan Cook
Israelis Have Shown Netanyahu the Door. Can He Inflict More Damage Before He Exits?
Valerie Reynoso
The Rising Monopoly of Monsanto-Bayer
John Steppling
American Psychopathy
Ralph Nader
25 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare for the 2020 Elections
Ramzy Baroud
Apartheid Made Official: Deal of the Century is a Ploy and Annexation is the New Reality
Vincent Emanuele
Small Town Values
John Feffer
The Threat of Bolton Has Retreated, But Not the Threat of War
David Rosen
Evangelicals, Abstinence, Abortion and the Mainstreaming of Sex
Judy Rohrer
“Make ‘America’ White Again”: White Resentment Under the Obama & Trump Presidencies
John W. Whitehead
The Police State’s Language of Force
Kathleen Wallace
Noblesse the Sleaze
Farzana Versey
Why Should Kashmiris be Indian?
Nyla Ali Khan
Why Are Modi and His Cohort Paranoid About Diversity?
Shawn Fremstad
The Official U.S. Poverty Rate is Based on a Hopelessly Out-of-Date Metric
Mel Gurtov
No War for Saudi Oil!
Robert Koehler
‘I’m Afraid You Have Humans’
David Swanson
Every Peace Group and Activist Should Join Strike DC for the Earth’s Climate
Scott Owen
In Defense of Non-violent Actions in Revolutionary Times
Jesse Jackson
Can America Break Its Gun Addiction?
Priti Gulati Cox
Sidewalk Museum of Congress: Who Says Kansas is Flat?
Mohamad Shaaf
The Current Political Crisis: Its Roots in Concentrated Capital with the Resulting Concentrated Political Power
Max Moran
Revolving Door Project Probes Thiel’s White House Connection
Arshad Khan
Unhappy India
Nick Pemberton
Norman Fucking Rockwell! and 24 Other Favorite Albums
Nicky Reid
The Bigotry of ‘Hate Speech’ and Facebook Fascism
Paul Armentano
To Make Vaping Safer, Legalize Cannabis
Jill Richardson
Punching Through Bad Headlines
Jessicah Pierre
What the Felicity Huffman Scandal Says About America
John Kendall Hawkins
Draining the Swamp, From the Beginning of Time
Julian Rose
Four Funerals and a Wedding: A Brief History of the War on Humanity
Victor Grossman
Film, Music and Elections in Germany
Charles R. Larson
Review: Ahmet Altan’s “I Will Never See the World Again”
David Yearsley
Jazz is Activism
Elliot Sperber
Captains of Industry 
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail