The Guild’s National Executive Committee recently approved a resolution on political repression and its impact on women in the Philippines, which was submitted by the International Committee, Philippines Subcommittee, Merrilyn Onisko and Vanessa Lucas. The Filipino GABRIELA Network was touched by our resolution and very grateful for our determination to continue working together.
Text of the Resolution Condemning Political Repression in the Philippines
WHEREAS the number of extra-judicial killings in the Philippines has reached nearly 800 since Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took office in 2001; the number of political prisoners nears 300; opposition electoral parties and their organizers are the focus of vilification campaigns; and President Arroyo is trying to change the Constitution to cancel the 2007 parliamentary elections and extend current terms, as well as eliminate the constitutional requirement that bans foreign military bases, troops, and facilities unless duly ratified by Congress or a national referendum;
WHEREAS lawyers, judges, activists, community leaders, journalists, peasant and labor organizers, women and human rights workers have all been among the targets of the U.S. backed Arroyo regime; and
WHEREAS the conditions in the Philippines are currently comparable to the days under the Marcos regime. In February 2006 President Arroyo declared a State of Emergency which included provisions for warrantless arrests, suspensions of demonstrations and a crackdown on the media, despite lifting of the State of Emergency, several of these provisions are still in place and six progressive members of congress have been charged with rebellion with one remaining in custody to this day;
WHEREAS 80 women have been assassinated since Arroyo took power; the Philippines has one of only a half-dozen all-women electoral parties in the world, the Gabriela Women’s Party; half of the women assassinated have been from the GABRIELA National Alliance of Women; and Congressperson Liza Maza of the Gabriela Women’s Party, the sole women’s sector representative, is one of those accused of rebellion;
WHEREAS the United States is financially supporting a Filipino military that is murdering its own people; U.S. military aid to the Philippines has increased 2000 percent and U.S. soldiers have served as advisors to the Philippines military since January 2002 when President Arroyo pledged support of George W. Bush’s “War on Terror”;
WHEREAS six U.S. soldiers met a young Filipina near the Subic Bay Freeport and several hours later she was found lying semi-naked in a roadside ditch; four of the soldiers were charged with rape and one was convicted; the U.S. utilized tactics to delay the trial and at first tried to get the soldiers off the island; the U.S. refused to provide embassy personnel to testify, at different points in the hearing did not require the defendants that were in its custody to attend the hearing, and the convicted soldier remains in U.S. custody; the presence of U.S. troops in the Philippines has always been particularly devastating to women; the Visiting Forces Agreement between the U.S. and the Philippines has created temporary bases throughout the country, which have created new areas for prostitution; prostitution in the Philippines has increased 600 percent in the last five years;
WHEREAS a delegation of women lawyers including three Guild lawyers travelled to the Philippines in the spring of 2006 and released a comprehensive report entitled Probing Political Persecution, Repression and Human Rights Violations in the Philippines, which documents the dire situation in the Philippines; and
WHEREAS members of that delegation along with other human rights attorneys and activists have been placed on a list which bars them from entering the Philippines;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:
FIRST, the National Lawyers Guild condemns the political repression, persecution and human right violations in the Philippines;
SECOND, the National Lawyers Guild condemns particularly the killing of women organizers and activists and the devastating effect that the U.S. military presence is having on women in the Philippines, recognizing that the world is becoming increasingly hostile to women activists, women’s rights and gender equality;
THIRD, the National Lawyers Guild calls on the U.S. to suspend military aid immediately and launch an investigation of human rights violations in the Philippines.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Lawyers Guild through the Philippines Subcommittee will continue its public awareness campaign by disseminating the report of the women lawyers and will partner with GABRIELA Network in a campaign to attract Congressional attention, especially on the issue of the misuse of the military aid to the Philippines.
Submitted by the International Committee