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Press Statement June 1, 2009

Contact:

Angelica Cabande, San Francisco CHRP, email: (SFCHRP) sfchrp@yahoo.com

Gary Labao, New York CHRP, email: nychrp@yahoo.com

Claire Oliveros, Portland CHRP, email: portlandchrp@gmail.com

(San Francisco, CA, New York, NY, and Portland, OR) In the 10th year marking of the Visiting Forces Agreement ratification, Committees for Human Rights in the Philippines (CHRP) across the U.S., member organizations of BAYAN USA, launches protest to demand the termination of the VFA and justice for victims of abduction and all human rights violations, which have climbed to record levels in the Philippines since the VFA was ratified on May 27, 1999.

“The VFA paved the way for U.S. military advisers, troops and equipment to flood the Philippines and to train and equip the Philippine military which has been implicated in 1,017 extra-judicial killings and 1,010 cases of torture”, stated Angelica Cabande from SF CHRP. “The VFA also stripped away the rights and welfare of our fellow Filipinas by standing firm to the VFA laws in the case of Daniel Smith, who was acquitted from charges of raping Nicole. After Nicole, another rape victim, Vanessa, has come out, but decided not to file a case because she was scared that the Philippine government would only favor the US.”

“This treaty between the Philippines and the United States governments has been nothing, but detrimental to our country and people. The Philippines has its own constitutions and laws, but yet this kind of act under the leadership of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime emphasizes that the US imperialist interest is firmly what the Philippine Government will uphold.” Lolan Sevilla of NY CHRP said.

Committees for Human Rights in the Philippines (CHRP) across the U.S also denounced recent claims by the Arroyo government’s Presidential Human Rights Commission (PHRC) that the abduction of Juanito Carabeo, John Edward Handoc and Filipino American, Melissa Roxas, was a mere fabrication by BAYAN Philippines and human rights group Karapatan, as well that the disappearance of the three involved immersion with the New People’s Army (NPA). The statement from the PHRC was posted May 28th on the website of the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC. All efforts to cover up the truth must be stopped and exposed, starting with the removal of the Philippine Embassy’s latest post on its website.

Roxas, Carabeo, and Handoc, all members of a volunteer health worker team preparing for a medical mission in La Paz, Tarlac, Philippines, were reportedly abducted at gunpoint on May 19 by at least eight heavily-armed masked men riding motorcycles and in a van without license plates. The circumstances of their abduction typify the pattern of dozens of politically-motivated abductions of activists critical of the Arroyo administration, and evidence points to the military as responsible for these acts. Roxas, Carabeo and Handoc officially surfaced on May 24th, 25th and 27th.

“Melissa’s abduction adds an American citizen to the list of over 200 victims of enforced disappearance under Arroyo. We are elated all 3 have surfaced, however, we are outraged by all the abductions, killings and human rightsviolations that have been occurring since GMA took office,” said Claire Oliveros from Portland CHRP. “We call for justice for all three, including a full investigation and prosecution of the abductors. We also reprove the United States in its continuing funding to the Philippines and demand a stop of using American tax dollars in funding violent acts of human right violations to civilians.”

What should alarm Filipinos in the US even more than Melissa’s case is the fact that the Arroyo administration, one that has been internationally chided time and time again for perpetrating rampant human rights violations through the Philippine military, continues to receive a generous military aid package from the US government. In 2007, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Philip Alston released a scathing report on the Philippines pointing out the Philippine military’s culpability as the main perpetrators of human rights violations. That same year, testimonies by a Philippine church delegation to the US Senate identified a correlation between the continuing rise of human rights violations in the Philippines to an increase in US military aid.

Committees for Human Rights in the Philippines (CHRP) across the U.S stress the importance of raising public awareness and participation in pressuring U.S. legislators to stop sending military aid to the Philippine government responsible for the extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances as sited in Professor Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur.

Committees for Human Rights in the Philippines (CHRP) across the U.S will be participating in an Emergency Summit on Human Rights in the Philippines. The one day event is on June 6, 2009 at the United Methodist Building, 100 Maryland Ave., NE, Washington, D.C. 20002.

The goal of the Summit is to build upon the strong but relatively dispersed response of US-based communities of faith, human rights and labor advocates, and members of the Filipino community to the human rights crisis in the Philippines. It aims to convene institutions, organizations, networks, individuals and initiatives to share their work and analysis on human rights in the Philippines. The hope is that participants will be able to identify ways to better coordinate and mutually support each other’s efforts to increase pressure on the Philippine government and create more impact.

For more information regarding the event Summit and a co-sponsorship form, please contact Katrina Abarcar at da_keese@hotmail.com

Activism it not a CRIME!

Terminate the VFA!

No U.S. Military aid to the Philippines!

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