I drafter this letter to the government concerning the pending sale of 16 helicopters to the Philippines. This is a country with a terrible record of human rights abuses and terror because of uprisings and protest movements seeking social equality, livelihoods, land, democracy and real peace.
February 08, 2018
Hon. Harjit Singh Sajjan
Minister of Defense, Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Re: sale of Canadian military aviation equipment to the Republic of the Philippines
We are writing to you in the name of human rights and just peace because of the pending sale of 16 military helicopters to the Republic of the Philippines (RP). We object to this transaction and strongly demand that you cancel the sale. We furthermore object to any military aid to the RP when it has a well attested and confirmed record of extrajudicial and political killings of civilians, and other human rights abuses—thousands of cases year after year! The Canadian government ought to take a stand against the human rights abuses and call for peaceful negotiations to end the civil wars.
I am informed by many years of human rights advocacy regarding the people of the Philippines. I am particularly aware of the role of transnational corporations, specifically Canadian mining companies, in perpetuating the poverty and violence in the Philippines, and I still join in advocating human rights and just peace.
I am sure you are aware of the situation of extreme poverty and unacceptable living conditions as well as many of the wrongdoings of successive governments against its long-suffering peoples. It is precisely because of these inhumane conditions that people feel extreme desire to protest, organize and even take up arms. Except for the corrupt and parasitical bureaucratic-capitalist, landowning class that is responsible for the poverty and mayhem, and regularly starves and beats down their compatriots, the people are generally in drastic need, need for democratic governance, public education and health care, housing, clean water, secure jobs, ancestral hereditary rights and reparations for the human rights atrocities and military repression. In short, they require just peace. If their many grievances are addressed, the struggling will relax. History has shown that police and military action against the people will not solve the problems.
In December, 2017, RP President Duterte extended the nightmare of marshal law. Marshal law, as I am sure you know, is a suspension of habeas corpus, the assumption of innocence until proven guilty and the right to a fair trial. This action is itself an abhorrence that merits universal condemnation. President Duterte claims it is justified on moral grounds and justice. What kind of justice? As the world knows by now, he is the Philippines “Idi Amin” who, puffed up like a rooster, likes to talk tough but is frequently illogical and usually defiant of any talk of rights, norms and law. He embraces vigilante justice, the mean and ruthless implementation of the knife or gun and trial by torture chamber and terror. To actually arm this monster, whatever riders you my think legitimize the sale of the helicopters, is to be a part of mass killings and extrajudicial terror. Please do not do it. This is not a model leader who can be respected and trusted. In fact, the case of the RP and President Duterte should be considered as one for sanctions.
Human rights defenders are themselves the subjects of numerous attacks and harassment. KARAPATAN reports an escalation of human rights abuses since last summer. Even its own investigators of such incidents have been killed and harassed. Such was the experience of the Fact-Finding Mission carried out in Bayawan, Negros Oriental last November. Female human rights advocates were persecuted in the Cordillera Region last October. Just today, I received notice that an elderly peace negotiator of the political staff of the people’s uprising, the National Democratic Front, was wrongly apprehended and incarcerated. This is not a guerrilla fighter. We urge the Canadian government to demand his release, and condemn these and all such human rights violations, and take measures to confront President Duterte and his military and national police.
The International League of People’s Struggle takes this position according to its Charter and defense of the principles of human rights, sovereignty, the right to self-determination and just peace. Also, we regularly study the world situation and follow the work of our member and allied peoples’ organizations around the world. Whatever opinions any of us may have about the targets of the Duterte regime and the armed struggles against it, we stand by well established international principles and condemn any military solution to the conflicts in the Philippines and other conflicts. We stand by the well documented record of human rights atrocities it and previous successive regimes have been carrying out against its peoples, and we condemn those human rights abuses and any complicit actions and support.
We call upon the Canadian government to withdraw from any participation in the military involvement in the RP and to stand up for human rights there and elsewhere. Negotiations between the Philippines state and the revolutionaries and independence leaders must take place to eventually arrive at just peace. There is a negotiation process between the National Democratic Front and the RP, and it must be respected, supported and resumed. Given the appalling conditions that most Filipinos endure and the extreme economic disparity, is your duty to urge the state of the Philippines to listen to the just demands of these movements. Questions of land, livelihood, national sovereignty, democratic governance and restitution for victims of human rights terror must be addressed for the roots of the problems to be removed.
Furthermore, we strongly recommend a critical stance on US militarization and US relations with the RP. The US should also stop providing military aid to the corrupt and vicious Duterte government, and its military must leave the region. The Philippines peoples should be left to reunite and develop their country according to terms they deem fit.
For the Vancouver Committee of the ILPS-Canada
Cc: Min. of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Chrystia Freeland