As US Bases Return to the Philippines, Human Rights Advocates Tackle Military Agreements in DC Tribunal

WASHINGTON DC– As the Aquino government reopens Subic Naval Base for US military use, Filipino human rights advocates are in Washington DC to testify on the adverse impact of increasing US military presence in the Philippines in the context of the Asia Pivot. The International Peoples’ Tribunal on the Philippines will try both Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and the US government under Barack Obama for gross human rights violations and crimes against the Filipino people, including violations to the right to self-determination and liberation through the imposition of the US War on Terror and US military intervention.

WHAT: International Peoples’ Tribunal on the Philippines

WHEN: Thursday, July 16 to Saturday, July 18; Proceedings begin 8:00 am

WHERE: Catholic University of America, Gowan Hall, 620 Michigan Ave., N.E. Washington, DC 20064

WHO:   Witnesses from the Philippines include Philippine Congressman Neri Colmenares and Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) survivor Efleda Bautista; Convenors include the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), and Ibon International; former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark will serve as lead prosecutor; jurors include NLG President Azadeh Shahshahani and prominent Latin American human rights advocate, author, and attorney Camilo Bustillo-Perez.

         Media is invited to cover this event. Interviews will be made available


In 2001, the Bush administration tagged the Philippines as the “Second Front” to the Global War on Terror. This set a pretext for increasing US military exercises in the country under the guise of counter-terrorism.

Since then the presence of US military personnel has been linked to various human rights abuses in the country, including the gang rape of Filipina Suzette “Nicole” Nicolas in 2005 and murder of Filipina transwoman Jennifer Laude in 2014.

In the context of Obama’s Asia Pivot, an April meeting between the two heads of state in Manila led to the signing of a new military pact—the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. (EDCA).

Secret US drone operations in Mindanao recently came to light with direct US military involvement in the botched February 2015 anti-terrorist operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao that led to the death of over 70, including 44 Special Action Forces of the Philippine National Police.

One expert witness and outspoken critic on US military presence in the Philippines, former Philippine Congresswoman Liza Maza, was prevented from boarding her plane to the US last July 9, due to an order from US Homeland Security to her airline, Korean Air. Liza was on her way to the US upon the invitation of community organizations and to testify at the IPT. Despite holding a valid 10-year multiple-entry visa to the US, Liza was barred from travel to the US.

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