July 1, 2008
Reference: Katrina Abarcar, National Coordinator, GMA Watch, email@example.com
Philippine Government's "Election" as Vice-President of the UN Human
Rights Council (UNHRC) Irrelevant
GRP's Actions Speak Loudest About Commitment to Human Rights
Despite the Philippine Government's claims that its being "elected" as the
Vice-President of the UNHRC represents the "confidence" of the
international community, its election, according to human rights advocates
in the US, is irrelevant, especially to the victims of human rights
violations in the country and their families.
"It's similar to when President Arroyo commended General Jovito Palparan
also known as 'the Butcher' for his service . For victims of human rights
violations and their advocates, Arroyo's praise does not disguise the fact
that he remains a butcher," said Katrina Abarcar, National Coordinator of
GMA Watch, a US-based national grassroots advocacy network monitoring the
human rights abuses of the Arroyo administration. "And for the growing
number in the US who know about the human rights crimes committed under
Arroyo's leadership, no position can white-wash that,"
In fact, the "election" of the Government of the Republic of the
Philippines (GRP) as VP of the UNHRC may not be as significant as the GRP
claims. According to the Philippine UPR Watch, a network of human rights
victims and advocates that sent a delegation to the UN's Universal
Periodic Review (UPR) of the Philippines in April and June, the VP
position of the UNHRC is filled on a rotation basis within
regional/continental groups. They say, "…the Asian countries merely
appointed one of its members to be vice president for a year. This year is
the Philippines turn. That is why a country with a bloodstained human
rights record can be accorded such administrative position on the rights
According to Ms. Abarcar, the real measure of the GRP's commitment to
human rights are its actions. "If the Arroyo administration is a truly a
committed and active member in the human rights council, why has it failed
to implement the recommendations of UN Special Rapporteur, Philip Alston?"
she asks. "Why have there, to date, been zero convictions of military
personnel who have been linked to the hundreds of cases of extrajudicial
killings, abductions, and illegal arrests?"
"Instead, the Philippine government has resorted to calling Professor
Alston insulting names and repeatedly denied the validity of his
conclusions and observations," said Ms. Abarcar.
Among other things, Professor Alston accused the Philippine military of
being in a "state of denial" about the extrajudicial killings in which the
military has been implicated. According to Philippine UPR Watch, the
Philippines is also among a handful of states that seeks to "unseat
mandate holders like Professor Alston" in an effort to "get back at people
who speak the truth.
"These actions show utmost disrespect for the UN as an institution and
speak volumes about the Arroyo administrations true willingness to abide
by its human rights obligations," ended Ms. Abarcar. ##
July 3, 2008
Reference: BAYAN USA Executive Committee, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
US Gov't Should Follow Suit From Mandela by Removing Sison, CPP, NPA
Off Terrorist List As Well
The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, a national
alliance of Filipino organizations in the United States expresses
heartfelt congratulations to South African freedom-fighter Nelson Mandela
over his recent dropping from the a dated US immigration watchlist of
possible terrorists. The US State Department has also dropped Mandela's
organization, the African National Congress (ANC) from the same list after
more than decades of being tagged. This precedes the Foreign Terrorist
Organization (FTO) list developed by the US State Department after
September 11, 2001. BAYAN USA also calls on the US government to follow
suit with this momentous victory by dropping Professor Jose Maria Sison,
another freedom-fighter and political refugee in the Netherlands, as well
as his former organizations the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)
and its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), off the FTO listing as
Effective last Tuesday, President George W. Bush signed off on a bill that
would allow Mandela to travel to the United States without having to get
certification from the US Secretary of State that he's not a terrorist.
"Today the United States finally has removed from its legal code a vestige
of that time of collective insults against human dignity," said House
Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman, one of the bill's
"Categorizing someone as admired as Nelson Mandela and the ANC as
terrorists is an indication that US government labels are ridiculous and
not indicative of the truth. Nelson Mandela was awarded a Nobel Peace
Prize for his activism while the US government listed him as a terrorist.
Meanwhile, Jose Maria Sison is still demonized by the US and Philippine
governments and European Union, and is still in exile. The reality is that
what Sison symbolizes to the marginalized and impoverished Filipino
majority and others around the world is also deserving of worldwide
admiration, not condemnation," states BAYAN USA Chair Chito Quijano.
As for the CPP-NPA listing, the alliance stood firm that although they
themselves do no endorse or engage in armed struggle, they assert the
listing of these organizations as terrorists are unfounded and unjust.
"Just like the US State Department retracted its listing of the ANC as a
terrorist organization, they should also retract such labels on the
CPP-NPA. If we are to qualify terrorist organizations as those who inflict
unnecessary harm and sow fear among the people, the Philippine military
under the command of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime is more of the
real terrorist, not the CPP-NPA. They are waging a principled struggle in
the countryside based on legitimate demands of the majority of the
Filipino people who are fed up with a rotten and abusive system. We may
have no link to them, but we do recognize the legitimacy of their fight as
a popular one, " Quijano added.
"If Mandela and the ANC can be hastily labeled as terrorists by the US
government then be dropped decades later out of acknowledged error in
judgement, surely we can deduce that the US government was just as hasty
and erroneous when they labeled Sison, the CPP, and the NPA as terrorist
organizations as well. We hope the US government will also acknowledge
their error as they did with Mandela and the ANC," Quijano ended.
The FTO labels on the CPP-NPA were a strong contributing factor to
declaring the Philippines as the so-called Second Front to the War on
Terror by the Bush administration in 2002. This led to the massive
deployment of US troops to the Philippines to conduct joint military
exercises under the auspices of anti-terrorism.
Professor Jose Maria Sison has been the target of several assassination
attempts, including an illegal arrest and raid last year in Utrecht.
Although a recognized political refugee in the Netherlands, Sison's
democratic right to travel and to work were stripped due to the FTO
listings of the US government and EU. His office in Utrecht remains a
popular hangout for peace and anti-war advocates visiting the Netherlands.