The ‘Stop the Killings’ caravan organized by the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines – United States chapter conducted a rally in Portland on May 5, 2018. Speakers of the rally included community leaders, human rights, activist, a representative of Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, and Bayan Metro Manila Chairman Mong Palatino. Below is the text of Mong’s speech:
Our dear friends, allies and kasamas, thank you for coming and for showing support to the ‘Stop the Killings’ campaign.
There were those who wanted to silence our voices by preventing one of our speakers, Jerome Aba, from joining the caravan. But they failed because despite his deportation, Jerome was still able to deliver his message; and more importantly, he succeeded in uniting various groups here in the United States to denounce the torture he endured and the impact of the so-called war on terror on the civilian population in Mindanao.
Our caravan started in D.C. before coming to New Jersey, New York, Chicago, Seattle, and now in Portland, Oregon. From East to West of the U.S., we were overwhelmed by the warm welcome shown by the American people to our delegation. We met legislators, church leaders, university professors, union officials, students, migrant activists, journalists, and kababayans who all expressed concern over the deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines.
Here in Portland, we held meetings and informal caucuses about President Rodrigo Duterte’s triple wars – the misnamed ‘war on drugs’, the war on terror, and the all-out-war against communist rebels. But all these should be known as a war against the poor because they involve the massive use of force to arbitrarily kill thousands of urban poor residents, hundreds of landless farmers, indigenous peoples, while forcing the evacuation of almost half a million residents of Marawi.
These wars have nothing to do with protecting the people and defending democracy. The truth is that these wars reflect the tyrannical rule of Duterte who wants to instill fear in society and deter people from opposing his unpopular policies.
Duterte is aware that his anti-people policies – from imposing higher taxes, reneging on his promise to end labor contractualization, allowing foreign military buildup, to changing the constitution – would generate intense political backlash. The use of repressive tactics is clearly intended to prevent citizens from challenging these unpopular programs and Duterte’s insulting pronouncements against women, the LGBT, and indigenous peoples.
Aside from the triple wars, Duterte is also attacking the free press, the critical members of the political opposition, the chief justice, and the organized Left. He even branded many activists as terrorists.
The killing spree, the widespread human rights abuses, and the undermining of civil liberties are done to promote the selfish agenda of Duterte and the ruling party. This deadly regime is propped up by foreign powers, big business, and dynastic oligarchs who all seek the establishment of an authoritarian government which would enable them to grab more power and profit at the expense of the working people.
They stand to benefit from the rise of a dictatorship which would eliminate any opposition to destructive mining operations, expansion of palm oil plantations, exploitation of cheap labor, plunder of the country’s resources and invasion of our territories.
Our mission here in the US is to raise awareness about these issues and explain that the human rights atrocities committed by state forces are not limited to the bloody anti-drug campaign.
We are here to appeal for your support in reminding your government about its role in enabling Duterte’s triple wars.
We are here seeking more voices who will join the clamor for the resumption of the peace process, the implementation of genuine land reform, the building of an economy that will uplift the conditions of all Filipinos, and the advancement of the people’s national democratic aspirations.
We are thankful for the opportunity to share the stories of the urban poor, the farmers, the Moro, and the Lumad. We are extremely touched by messages of solidarity which give us hope as we continue the struggle for human rights protection and democratic reforms in society.
Seeing all of you here today affirms our faith in the power of solidarity.
We know you are one with us in our call to stop the killings in the Philippines, and the withdrawal of US military aid and the deployment of war drones that are being used in Duterte’s repressive wars.
We are friends, allies and kasamas in the common struggle for respect for rights and dignity.
From Portland to Mindanao, we stand up for the rights of the Lumad and migrants.
From the US to the Philippines, we raise the banner of the people’s movement resisting tyranny, opposing wars of aggression, and fighting a brutal system that separates families, dehumanizes social relations, and kills the poor.
And so from both sides of the Pacific, we say, stop the raids, stop the killings!
Long live international solidarity! Mabuhay!
Photos by Nikki de Leon