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AFL-CIO urges cut U.S. aid to Philippines, endorses Philippine Human Rights Act

By staff

Washington DC – Last week, the largest federation of unions in the United States joined the growing call in the United States to cut U.S. military aid to the Philippine government under President Rodrigo Duterte.

The AFL-CIO, made up of 55 national and international unions, together representing more than 12 million active and retired members, voted to endorse the Philippine Human Rights Act (PHRA). The PHRA calls on the U.S. Congress to “suspend United States security assistance to the Philippines until such time as human rights violations by Philippine security forces cease and the responsible state forces are held accountable.”

A resolution of the AFL-CIO executive committee stated, “In the four years since the election of Rodrigo Duterte as president of the Philippines, we have been increasingly troubled by the increased repression of labor, human rights, environmental and political activists in the Philippines.”

The resolution also stated, the AFL-CIO “strongly urges introduction in the U.S. House and Senate of the Philippines Human Rights Act, which would suspend U.S. taxpayer-funded military aid to the Philippines until security officials stop the routine violations of human rights and those responsible for abuses are held accountable.”

“We welcome and applaud the AFL-CIO's statement calling on Congress to introduce and pass the PHRA. Our coalition of support for human rights and democracy in the Philippines is growing within the labor movement, faith groups, youth, educators and academics, community-based organizations and even city-level government agencies,” states Drew Elizarde-Miller of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines.

“Now with the pending passage of the Anti-Terror Law in the Philippines, we are seeing intensifying political repression in the country under Duterte’s rule, a targeted national campaign to silence and kill off his critics and voices of dissent. The Duterte government is even using the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown to justify its abuse of executive power and crackdown on the Filipino people, who continue to struggle against tyranny. As Filipinos in the U.S. and our supporters, we must fight as well and echo the cries for democracy and justice,” states Yves Nibungco of Malaya Movement.

“As Filipino-American youth, we want a future where the human rights violations in the Philippines aren't funded by U.S. tax dollars. We don't want our families separated because of a U.S. military presence in the Philippines, we don’t want to see the military occupation and violence in Philippine schools,” states Christine Fabro of Kabataan Filipino-American Youth Alliance, based in Washington D.C.

Co-sponsors of the PHRA include the Communication Workers of America, United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society, the United Church of Christ Justice and Peace Ministries and the Ecumenical Advocacy Network on the Philippines.

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