18SEVERAL groups within the Filipino American community are raising concerns regarding U.S. President Joe Biden’s invitation to Philippine President Ferdinand “Bong Bong” Marcos, Jr. for an official visit.
A letter from leaders for various policy, religious and labor groups urged Biden to retract the invitation to Marcos unless human rights issues are addressed, and until Marcos has complied with court orders, both in the Philippines and in the U.S., to fully compensate the victims of martial law.
“Make no mistake. This visit will be a critical test of President Biden’s respect for the rule of law. There should be no official invitation unless Marcos repudiates Duterte’s murderous administration and stops the assaults on the Philippines’ constitutional democracy,” said John Cavanagh, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.
Loida Nicolas Lewis, National Chair of the U.S. Filipinos for Good Governance, points out that Marcos, who campaigned for “unity” must be “held accountable for this promise by repudiating his predecessor’s undemocratic policies and his war on drugs that have torn families apart and destroyed thousands of lives.”
Lewis denounced Marcos’s decision not to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is investigating former President Duterte’s war on drugs. During Duterte’s six years in office, at least 6,252 people were killed and an estimated 30,000 more were victims of vigilante-style killings — deadly consequences of Duterte’s war on drugs.
Irene Natividad, co-chair of the Asian American Action Fund and President of the Global Summit of Women, noted the incarceration of former Sen. Leila De Lima. “Marcos must underscore his commitment to transparency and good governance by immediately releasing De Lima, who has been unjustly treated for criticizing Duterte’s war on drugs,” she said. “The new administration must also stop harassing Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa, a staunch advocate of freedom of the press.”
On Duterte’s policy of “red-tagging peaceful labor workers and activists,” labor leaders in the US are reiterating previous demands “to honor the human rights of all Filipinos and to observe the will of Filipino workers who have come together to demand dignity and respect. In the US we are barely recovering from the recent attack on our freedoms by the previous administration,” noted Brady Calma, president of the Asian Pacific America Labor Alliance (APALA). “Democracy and the rule of law are more fragile than we thought, and we must be vigilant in upholding them.”
Marcos is scheduled to speak before the UN General Assembly on September 20, while Vice President Sara Duterte is slated to attend a special UN meeting on education the week of September 19. (AJPress)