PCFS commends European Parliament resolution on human rights violations in the Philippines

The South-led rural people’s movement Peoples Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) warmly commends the recent European Parliament (EP) resolution condemning the continuing extrajudicial killings, other serious human rights violations, and “red-tagging” in the Philippines.

The EP passed a resolution on 16 February calling on the Philippine government to “immediately end all violence and human rights violations” including “unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests, acts of torture and other abuses, and to disband private and state-backed paramilitary groups involved in the ‘war on drugs.’”

The resolution also demanded the abolition of the notorious National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which is “in charge of carrying out red-tagging.”

“Red-tagging has long been used to justify the killing of activists in the Philippines. We have buried at least 340 farmer leaders in the last five years, murdered in cold blood after being tagged as ‘communists,’” said PCFS Global co-chairperson Sylvia Mallari, who is a Filipina.

According to Julie Smit, the Coalition’s Europe representative, even the Philippine-based secretariat of the PCFS routinely experiences being labelled a “communist front,” which endangers their lives.

Under the Duterte administration, more than 30,000 civilians and at least 600 activists have been killed in the bloody ‘war on drugs’ plus hundreds unjustly imprisoned. The EP resolution also called on the International Criminal Court to continue its inquiry into the allegation of crimes against humanity in the Philippines and hold Duterte and others responsible accountable for these violent policies.

PCFS specifically welcomes the fact that the EP reiterated its call for the European Commission to take steps to temporarily withdraw trade preferences that benefit the Philippines, should the government fail to show substantial improvement in complying with its human rights obligations.

“This would be a clear sign that the EU is concretizing its commitments to human rights and democracy in its dealings with trade partners,” said Smit.

Ensuring democratic elections

The European Parliament also expressed regret that the Philippine authorities did not invite the EU to conduct an observation mission for the upcoming May elections. Against this background, PCFS welcomes the EP’s call to the EU delegation and Member States’ representations in the Philippines to give full support to independent local observers that are monitoring the elections.

“Ensuring fair and democratic elections in May will be crucial in addressing human rights violations in the Philippines. The son of the former dictator Marcos is a presidential candidate with another Duterte as his running mate, both mobilizing troll armies and even the military to gain a foothold,” Mallari said.

Philippine-based media have already reported the extensive use by the Marcos-Duterte tandem of disinformation and so-called trolls in the campaign. Furthermore, numerous viral videos have shown police and military officers actively campaigning for the Duterte-backed candidates.

“For our part, we will be supporting the International Observers’ Mission (IOM) led by the International Commission on Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), which is supported by several international rights groups including PCFS Global,” said Smit. She added that the IOM would be conducting its monitoring work from February to May as a contribution to ensuring democratic elections in the Philippines.

“We call on our members and allies to support the IOM and continue echoing the demands of the Filipino people for justice and accountability, and we hope that the EU will stand by its promise to support these independent initiatives,” Smit said. ###

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