Emergency Human Rights Summit on the Philippines

Proposed Collaboration: Emergency Human Rights Summit on the Philippines
Location: Washington, DC
Date: June 6, 2009


The Need

The ever-growing epidemic of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, illegal arrest and detention, politically motivated prosecutions, targeted harassment of activists and critics of the Arroyo administration, and other human rights abuses has continued to gather the concern of human rights and labor advocates, communities of faith, and members of the Filipino community. Already there are dozens of organizations, networks, and initiatives that have emerged in the US since human rights advocates and victims of abuses and their families have managed to internationally project the grave problem. But unfortunately, the efforts of concerned US based folks have been relatively dispersed and perhaps their impact has been muted because of the relative independence of these initiatives.

That is not to say the initiatives have not had impact. For example, the efforts of churches and institutions led to the Ecumenical Conference on Human Rights in the Philippines and the Congressional Hearing Chaired by Senator Boxer (D-CA) in 2007. The scrutiny these events put on the Philippine administration no doubt contributed to the decrease in extrajudicial killings that year. Unfortunately, the killings, abductions, and harassment have never stopped and in fact appear to be on the rise again.

It is our belief that there is a need to take stock of all the independent initiatives organizations, institutions, networks, and individuals that are working on the issue of human rights in the Philippines in order to better coordinate and lend mutual support to these initiatives.

It is especially pressing at this time with Philippine elections on the horizon in 2010. Historically, electoral violence is common. In the 2007 election season, around 120 were killed and 120 more wounded in election related violence with many of the targets being volunteers, organizers, and sympathizers of progressive Party List groups. In fact, churches in the Philippines organized an International Observers Mission to monitor the rampant violence and fraud. This coming election season, with the Arroyo administration’s current efforts to amend the charter in a not so veiled attempt to cling to power, one can expect even more human rights abuses targeted at critics.

It is within this context, that the idea for an “Emergency Human Rights Summit on the Philippines” emerged.

The Goal

The goal is to convene a gathering of representatives of human rights organizations and committees, national and regional networks, churches, universities, labor unions and other concerned individuals and entities to:

  • Discuss and come to common understanding about the current and ever-more pressing human rights crisis in the Philippines.
  • To share the current campaigns, research efforts, and initiatives the participants are working on.
  • To identify more effective methods of responding to the human rights crisis in the Philippines that will increase pressure on the Philippine government or create more impact.
  • To identify or create a mechanism that will allow the participants to learn of and mutually support each others endeavors on a continual basis.

In order to make this Summit a success, the group of initiators are seeking “Co-Sponsors.” We envision co-sponsors committing to any or all of the following listed below:

  • Lend their organization’s or institution’s name to this Summit
  • Send a representative to the Summit
  • Help advertise and promote the Summit
  • Invite other organizations, institutions, networks and concerned individuals to attend or co-sponsor the Summit
  • Provide financial assistance or in-kind support to cover operational costs for the Summit