You are on page 1of 6

9th November 2018

PRESS RELEASE
The UK Government cannot turn a blind eye to human rights
violations in the Philippines, MPs told
LONDON “The UK government must do more to pressure the Duterte government to end
the huge wave of extra-judicial killings in the Philippines unleashed in its so-called war on
drugs, and to bring to an end martial law in the province of Mindanao” according to Cristina
Palabay, Secretary General of Karapatan, an eminent human rights organisation in the
Philippines. It is estimated that 14-20,000 deaths have resulted from the “war on drugs” in
the last two years.

Ms Palabay was addressing British MPs at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group
on Human Rights (PHRG) and the Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines (CHRP)
on Monday 5 November. She informed MPs of the numerous death threats she and other
human rights defenders had received and the constant police surveillance which human
rights organisations experience.

The meeting also heard the concerns of human rights activists and academics in the UK,
including about British sales of surveillance technology and arms to the Duterte regime which
appeared to violate rules about the export of technology to repressive regimes, widespread
impunity of security foreces allegedly responsible for serious violations, and violent
repression in connection with conflicts over land rights.

Lloyd Russell Moyle MP, a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Arms Export, argued
that the UK government was not taking concerns about the situation in the Philippines
seriously enough. He felt that the Philippines was a test case: if the human rights argument
could not be won with the UK Government on the Philippines, then It was unlikely it would
prevail in respect of other countries post-Brexit, where greater commercial interests were
involved.

Those at the meeting, which was chaired by Helen Goodman MP, agreed that continued
international pressure and engagement was important, and called on the UK Government to
be monitored and held to account for its trade relations with, and arms sales to,the
Philippines. Ms Palabay also stressed the importance of an independent investigation into
human rights violations taking place there, eg by the International Criminal Court or the UN
Human Rights Council.

Sadly, within 24 hours of the meeting in London, Benjamin Ramos, a prominent human rights
lawyer on the island of Negros in the Philippines was shot dead in the street by unidentified
gunmen. Ramos had been assisting victims of a massacre at a sugar plantation at the end
of October, when nine poor farmers were killed, allegedly by private security forces of the
local landlord. The Philippines National Police had publicised the lawyer’s name and picture
in a poster, thereby effectively endorsing his assassination.

For more information contact: Stuart Howard, +442038931872, email info@chrp.org.uk

Page 1 of 6
Notes

Extra quotes from those present:-

Olivia McLaughlin, a member of the Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines who recently returned
from a fact-finding mission to the country said, ‘Across Metro Manila and the surrounding regions, we
came face-to-face with victims of land-grabbing, police harassment and injustice. What was astounding
was the level of resistance many Filipinos are putting up against the proliferating human rights abuses
afflicting the country.’

Professor Tom Smith, a post-doctoral fellow and lecturer at the University of Portsmouth,who lived in the
Philippines for his doctoral thesis on the conflict in Mindanao highlighted the imminent threat being
shared by Filipino migrants and expats in the UK, especially those who are critical of Duterte’s war on drugs
and some of his recent policy. Smith added that Filipino migrants who dissent and disagree with Duterte
are often faced with online and offline harassment and threats from staunch supporters of the Philippine
president.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Rights, a cross-party platform in the House of Commons,
sponsored the meeting on Extra-Judicial Killings and Attacks on Human Rights Defenders in Duterte’s
Philippines on November 5, 2018. The meeting was chaired by Helen Goodman MP, Shadow Minister for
Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

The Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines condemns in the strongest terms the recent murder of
lawyer Ben Ramos. His death adds to the ever-mounting list of human rights defenders, progressive
lawyers, freedom fighters and others who have perished since the commencement of the Duterte regime.

[1] https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/in-depth/205921-justice-elusive-war-on-drugs-duterte-second-
year

[2] https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/11/07/18/manny-pacquiao-tells-oxford-students-no-ejks-in-ph-drug-
war

[3] https://www.facebook.com/karapatan/photos/a.275623205152/10160954739845153/?

[4] http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/673887/progressive-solons-condemn-killing-of-
human-rights-lawyer-ben-ramos/story/, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/21/world/asia/philippines-
attack-farmers.html

Photos available below

Page 2 of 6
Page 3 of 6
Page 4 of 6
Page 5 of 6
Page 6 of 6