Canada must suspend military and police support to Philippines as crisis continues

Following the “Bloody Sunday” events in March, PSAC joined a group of unions, human rights groups, faith-based organizations and prominent Canadians to urge the Canadian government to condemn state-sponsored terrorism in the Philippines.  

PSAC has a longstanding commitment to supporting the rights of workers across the world. As part of this initiative, PSAC sits on the sub-committee of Investigate PH, a global initiative concerned with the state of human rights in the Philippines. The group is currently holding independent investigations into human rights violations in the Philippines, the final results of which will be shared with the United Nations Human Rights Council at its September 2021 meeting. 

Investigate PH’s recently released second report on the crisis clearly shows that state-sanctioned political violence continues to escalate. The Duterte administration’s anti-drug operations have infamously resulted in the killing of thousands of poor, urban-dwelling people by police. Hundreds of thousands of Indigenous peoples, land and human rights defenders, and low-income people are being displaced, terrorized, jailed and killed by the government. Yet survivors are courageously speaking out to tell the world about their situation.

As part of a long list of recommendations, Investigate PH is asking the United Nations to: 

  • hold the government of the Philippines accountable for the thousands of extrajudicial killings, abductions and disappearances, illegal arrests and detentions, harassment, and other violations of human rights and international humanitarian law sanctioned by the state;
  • ensure that government officials are held accountable for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law;
  • ensure that President Rodrigo Duterte is held criminally liable for official orders, reinforced by his public statements, to kill drug users and dissenters that have emboldened state security agencies and other government agencies to stifle dissent. 

Meanwhile, Canadian organizations supporting Investigate PH have sent a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs expressing alarm over escalating state-sanctioned human rights violations in the Philippines. We urge Prime Minister Trudeau’s government to act by suspending all military and police assistance and training until respect for human rights and international humanitarian law is restored in the Philippines. We also urge the the federal government to uphold respect for human rights as a precondition for any current or future Canadian cooperation with the Duterte administration. 

As union members and activists, we encourage you to learn more about the worsening situation in the Philippines and support Investigate PH's work.


July 23, 2021