Capitol Hill hearings on human rights in PH set for July 25
WASHINGTON, DC — The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation will hold a hearing on the human rights situation in the Philippines on Thursday, July 25.
The hearing will cover three other countries in Southeast Asia in addition to the Philippines– Vietnam, Cambodia and Rohingya, Committee Chair Rep. Brad Sherman announced Thursday, July 18.
The announcement comes a week after the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution calling for a comprehensive investigation into the human rights situation in the Philippines.
Since his election in 2016 President Rodrigo Duterte’s so-called war on drugs have earned the attention of international and governmental bodies including the UN Human Rights Commission for nearly 30,000 deaths allegedly resulting from the policy. A recent example is the death of three year old Myca Ulpina in a police drug operation,
Duterte has been accused of widespread attacks against human rights defenders, trade unionists, women, church people, farmers and indigenous people. Critics cite as examples the massacre of 14 farmers in Negros in a joint operation between military and police, and the recent government shut down of 55 schools serving indigenous children in the hinterlands.
“The Philippines can feel so far from the San Fernando Valley, but when friends and family become victims of Duterte’s human rights abuses, it hits close to home,” said Dominico Vega, member of Malaya Movement in Southern California and a constituent of Rep. Sherman.
Vega’s close friends, two Filipino Long Beach-based journalists, Eric Tandoc and Hiyas Saturay, experienced Duterte’s repression directly when they were arrested while filming a workers’ strike in the Philippines.
The Malaya movement has been advocating for a congressional hearing alongside advocacy groups such as the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, the Ecumenical Advocacy Network on the Philippines, and Amnesty International. In April, over 400 rights advocates gathered in Washington, D.C. and lobbied 100 offices to call for a congressional hearing, restrictions on aid to the Philippine military and police, and support for House Resolution 233 and Senate Resolution 142 to free Amnesty International prisoner of conscience Senator Leila de Lima, an outspoken critic of President Duterte.
“We applaud Congressman Brad Sherman for initiating a hearing that will cover the human rights situation in the Philippines. As people in the United States who advocate for peace and justice here, in the Philippines, and around the world, we oppose any form of aid that supports Duterte’s attacks on the people in the Philippines,” said Pam Tau Lee, chair of ICHRP-US.
The hearing will take place on the heels of a global day of protest against Duterte scheduled in over 20 countries. In the US, protests in 10 cities are being organized by the Malaya Movement, including one in front of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC.
Their united call worldwide — “Tama Na, Sobra Na, People Power Na (Enough is Enough, People Power Now!), references the 1986 and 2001 People Power uprisings in the country that led to the ouster of former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos and Joseph Estrada.