Jan Schakowsky, 49 US Legislators call to rescind Anti-Terror Law
July 16, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC – On
Wednesday morning, U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), a
Senior Chief Deputy Whip in the U.S. House of Representatives, urged
the Philippine government under President Rodrigo Duterte to rescind
the newly-signed Anti-Terror Law (ATL), which goes into effect in
the Philippines on July 18.
“We stand with people of
the Philippines, Filipino Americans, and grassroots orgs like Malaya
Movement and ICHRP-US in demanding a genuine democracy where dissent
is accepted and encouraged instead of criminalized,” said Rep.
“In the past four years,
Duterte has unleashed state perpetrated terror against poor
Fililpinos, farmers, workers, Indigenous peoples, people of faith,
trade unionists, and human rights defenders. Only through an
organized mass movement can we defeat Duterte's dictatorship,” said
Nicanora Montenegro, Malaya Movement spokesperson.
Rep. Schakowsky, along
with 49 additional members of the U.S. Congress, sent a letter to
Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel Romualdez to convey
these concerns, raising the documented numerous cases of human
rights violations and extrajudicial killings that have occurred in
the four years of the Duterte administration.
“With a long track record
of using drug laws and martial law in parts of the country to target
innocent activists who did nothing other than speak out against
government policies, we clearly are left with no option but to view
this as just the latest and most egregious effort to silence those
fighting for basic and fundamental human rights in the Philippines,”
said the letter.
The U.S. Members of
Congress who signed onto the letter include the Chair and Ranking
Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Eliot Engel (D-NY)
and Chris Smith (R-NJ), as well as the Chair of the Congressional
Asian Pacific Caucus, Judy Chu (D-CA).
“We see the targeted
killing of labor rights and human rights activists, silencing of
Rappler media outlets, ongoing attacks against any who dare to speak
out against Duterte’s violence and trampling of rights. We are
telling them these egregious attacks cannot stand,” said Rep. Judy
Chu, the first Congressional Representative to speak out against the
attempted assassination of U.S. citizen and activist Brandon Lee in
front of his home in the Cordillera region of the Philippines last
Lawyer and former
Philippine Congressman Neri Colmenares thanked the U.S.
representatives for showing concern for the worsening human rights
situation in the Philippines and encouraged U.S. Congress to support
the Philippine Human Rights Act (PHRA), a bill that would put
restrictions on US military aid to the Philippines due to human
rights violations being linked to Philippine state security forces.
“I'm sure not a single
American taxpayer would like to spend American dollars to buy
bullets or guns to kill the Filipino people. It is important for us
to pass the Philippine Human Rights Act because it will put pressure
on the Filipino government to tone down its human rights attacks.
This bill will save lives in the Philippines,” said Colmenares.
Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines- US chapter thanked
the 50 representatives for their action and encouraged the
international community to continue to support the Filipino people’s
fight against the ATL and to defend their basic democratic rights.