SF CHRP (San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines) is a San Francisco based human rights advocacy group. Latest news and views on human rights in the Philippines.
Reference: Rupert Estanislao, chair
On International Human Rights Day, on December 10th, a delegation comprising of representatives from Bayan-USA, Bayan-Northern California, Gabriela-USA, babae-San Francisco, Anakbayan-USA, and the San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (SF CHRP) meet with Deputy Consul General Ramon T. Ascalon at the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco, CA.
The concerned delegation gave to Consul Ascalon a letter from the sister of Daguil Capion, Erita Capion, that was addressed to President Noynoy Aquino over the anguish she felt over the death of her sister-in-law and two nephews and expressed concern that Aquino was not doing enough to root out the culture of impunity that is pervasive within the Armed Forces of the Philippines and which led to the massacre of the Capion family in South Cotabato. The delegation also gave Consul Ascalon a list of demands in regards to the massacre of the Capion family by troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
“The delegation was able to meet with Consul Ascalon for a good 45-minutes and convey our deep sense of concern over the ever worsening human rights crisis in the Philippines,” said SF CHRP chair Rupert Estanislao. “Specifically, the delegate from SF CHRP was able to address to Consul Ascalon the way in which multinational mining corporations have contributed to the ever worsening human rights situation by the way in which they operate. Instead of heeding to the concerns of local communities multinational mining corporations ride roughshod over their concerns and use the AFP and local government backed militias and security agencies to harass, intimidate, and coerce people out of their homes. In the case of the Capion family these type of practices lead to their massacre by AFP soldiers.”
Delegates from babae-San Francisco and Gabriela-USA also expressed their concern over the militarization of the Philippines and its direct contribution in the increase of violence against women by military personnel, militias, and even U.S. military forces. With the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, units from the AFP directly target local communities in the countryside and allows AFP units to directly set-up camp within sitios and barangays across the Philippines which further puts the lives of women at risk through harassment, intimidation, rape, abduction, and death.
The delegate from Anakbayan-USA also conveyed concerns over Oplan Bayanihan and the role the AFP and Philippine National Police (PNP) play in the violation of the rights of children and youth within the communities they camp out in. In a policy that is, in form and essence, nationally set and coordinated, troops from the AFP and PNP routinely use schools (either partially or wholly) as their base of operations, displacing students and intimidating families in direct violation of International Humanitarian Law.
Soldiers also use this as an opportunity to accuse specific national democratic youth and student groups, such as Anakbayan, as being “fronts” of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and “recruiters” of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA), directly placing the lives of these community youth organizers at risk for illegal detention, abduction, and assassination from state and military agents.
“Our demands were simple: that the president of the Philippines move towards a more comprehensive goal in creating an atmosphere, in word and deed, in where human rights are respected and are at the forefront of his administration,” said Estanislao. “However, Aquino’s words have so far rung hollow especially in the recent promotions of known human rights abusers within the AFP, his dismissing of human rights concerns as ‘leftist propaganda,’ his inclusion of number one human rights abusers AFP and PNP within an interagency ‘human rights’ body, and his complete silence and lack of concern over the massacre of the Capion family by his own troops.”
“We also handed a list of demands from our organization and the Portland and New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines concerning the multinational mining company Xstrata-SMI and the AFP’s massacre of the Capion family,” continued Estanislao. “We are asking that President Aquino expel Xstrata-SMI from the Philippines for its continual abuse of Philippine nationals and for using deplorable tactics in trying to drive the B’laan indigenous people from their ancestral land for nothing more than bottom-line profit motives. We also put it to Aquino to finally change his past practices of coddling AFP human rights abusers and prosecute all soldiers involved in the massacre as well as key commanders within the 27th Infantry Battalion responsible for ‘counter-insurgency’ operations within South Catabato where the massacre took place.”
When meet with the concerns over Xstrata-SMI Consul Ascalon, without directly addressing these concerns, expressed his own concern to our delegation that we not “paint” all multinational corporations “with the same brush” and seemed to instead push the perspective that multinational corporations, whether mining, gas, oil, or other, were actually good for the people of the Philippines and for economic development.
“Our concern as a delegation was not whether multinational corporations were ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for the Philippines but that those multinational corporations, such as Xstrata-SMI, continue to ignore the concerns of everyday Filipinos and have a track record of being involved in some hideous human rights abuses,” explained Estanislao. “This is especially true when it comes to mining. Wherever multinational mining corporations set up shop in the Philippines, either in Palawan, Mankayan, Compostella Valley, or Cotabato, an increase in militarization and human rights violations seem to go hand in hand.”
SF CHRP is asking that the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco takes the concerns of local Filipino Americans and Filipino immigrants seriously and continues to engage with SF CHRP in tackling the dreadful human rights situation in the Philippines. We are also demanding that Aquino prosecute human rights violators within the Philippines and to stop dismissing the concerns of human rights organizers as “leftist propaganda” and that Xstrata-SMI and the 27th Infantry Battalion be held responsible for the massacre of the Capion family.