NLG International Committee and NYCHRP Support Ten Years of People’s Lawyers Fighting for Human Rights

The following statement of greetings to the convention of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) in the Philippines was co-authored by the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) and the NLG International Committee.

September 16, 2017 marks 10 years that the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) has been upholding, promoting, and fighting for the rights of the oppressed and the people of the Philippines. The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) International Committee (IC) and the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) stand in solidarity with the mission and work of the people’s lawyers. We strongly commend their ten years of ongoing struggle with the people!

We support NUPL’s continued lawyering for the people. The NUPL has pledged legal counseling and assistance to the hapless and helpless drug war victims, while denouncing those responsible for the cold-blooded, unmitigated premeditated, and brutal murders. One such victim was Kian Loyd Delos Santos, a 17-year-old who was killed during a police anti-drug operation in Caloocan in mid-August.  He was a victim among many other cases of systematic murders of drug suspects by the state forces of Duterte. Coupled with Duterte’s purported drug war is the still ongoing martial law he declared in Mindanao in May as a response to ISIS elements in Marawi City by the combined forces of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups. The martial law declaration was overly broad, covering all of Mindanao despite the target groups solely being in Marawi City. The City continues to be bombed and the Armed Forces of the Philippine have taken the declaration as a signal to generally target workers, the Lumad, and the Moro people.

President Duterte’s “War on Drugs” implicates multiple violations of people’s rights to life, liberty, and due process. The War on Drugs is just a small part of the President’s larger attacks on human rights, including the region-wide declaration of Martial Law and militarization of Mindanao. President Duterte disregards fundamental international and domestic human rights by instructing and goading the police and military to shoot and bomb innocent people and then promising to protect them from reprise. Further, the Duterte government’s application of any right is anti-poor, killing them and effecting intrusive searches and tests.

With the theme of “Addressing the Escalating Human Rights Violations: The Role of the People’s Lawyer in the Struggle to Attain Just and Lasting Peace,” we are confident that the NUPL will continue its legacy of human rights defense to address the burning issues of the Philippines today.

NLG is a national association of lawyers, law students, legal workers, and jailhouse lawyers in the United States dedicated to using the law as an instrument for attaining social justice. Formed in 1937 with a mandate to advocate for the protection of human and civil rights, it is the oldest human rights/public interest bar association in the nation.

NYCHRP is a volunteer-run education and advocacy group based in New York City that works to promote social, economic and political alternatives that foster democracy and peace based on justice in the Philippines and for Filipinos in the diaspora today. NYCHRP shares the vision of human rights advanced by the National Democratic movement of the Philippines.

As human rights advocates and members of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, the NLG IC and NYCHRP echoes the concerns of the NUPL and the people they serve regarding the violations of people’s fundamental rights. We support the efforts of NUPL to link human rights work to a movement that demands the improvement of the Philippines from a political, economic, and social system burdened by semi-feudalism, bureaucrat capitalism, and imperialism to one that serves its people and allows for their participation in society.

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On Major Human Rights Anniversaries, NYCHRP Opposes Martial Law and the Drug War in the Philippines

We are in a season of human rights anniversaries. Every August 30 is memorialized as the International Day of the Disappeared, calling attention to the victims of enforced disappearances. September 21st is the anniversary of the day that martial law was declared by the dictator in the Philippines. The New York Committee on Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) calls to mind the friends, co-workers, parents, children, and community members who government forces have forcibly and secretly taken away from the people who love and care for them.

NYCHRP remembers, in solidarity, the disappeared of Mexico, particularly in Ayotzinapa. Three years since the disappearance of 43 college students from the city of Iguala, the case has exposed the link between corrupt officials and paramilitary gangs profiting from drug smuggling and other illicit activities. NYCHRP also remembers the 29 victims of enforced disappearances in the Philippines. NYCHRP opposes the culture of impunity and corruption that deny justice and accountability to people in the Philippines where an oppressive local and international elite subdues the people under semi-feudalism, bureaucrat capitalism, and imperialism.

Amidst the exacerbating crisis in society and economy, NYCHRP also denounces the unbridled violations of human rights in the Philippines. Since the start of Duterte’s War on Drugs in 2016, nearly 12,000 people have been killed, mostly alleged drug users and small-time peddlers from among the poor. Tens of thousands of others have been thrown into jail, packing into prisons in a country which only has worsened the objectionable conditions of prisoners and political prisoners alike. One facility is overcrowded with 2,975 prisoners, or 10 times its legal capacity, and three-quarters are jailed for drug-related offences.

NYCHRP also condemns the continuing violation of human rights by Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao. The University of the Philippines – Diliman campus hosted a Lakbayan of national minority peoples and groups from all over the country in its third year. This year’s Lakbayan has a special significance: it will be the broadest protest action against martial law in Mindanao, the continuing destruction of the Islamic City of Marawi, and the worsening state of the residents of the city. People have been without homes since May 23. NYCHRP supports the fight for democracy, for human rights, for the dignity of the Lumad and the people of Marawi, and against the threat of the return of a dictatorship.

September 21 is the anniversary of the declaration of martial law by dictator Ferdinand Marcos. NYCHRP laments that the Philippines, in Mindanao, is once again under martial rule, and violations of human rights are increasing. NYCHRP calls on people to hold the President accountable to enacting genuine economic, social, and economic reforms that will actually solve the problems of the Filipino people. NYCHRP calls on the Duterte government to confront the roots of armed conflict and to reengage in peace talks with the revolutionary government of the Philippines in order to finalize the Comprehensive Agreement on Economic and Social Reforms.

NYCHRP is a volunteer-run education and advocacy group in New York City that promotes social, economic, and political alternatives that foster democracy and peace. NYCHRP shares the human rights vision of the National Democratic movement of the Philippines, and organizes people and communities to uphold and support human rights in the Philippines and the world.

#NeverAgaintoMartialLaw #AliveTheyTookThemAliveWeWantThemBack

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