The Guardian • Issue #2089

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2089
Parliament House.

Photo: Long Zheng – (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Contact: Sr Patricia Fox

Phone: 0423 233 152
The House of Representatives & The Senate, Australian Parliament, Canberra, ACT.

Open Letter

29 February 2024

Dear members of the House of Representatives and Senate

Re: Pres Bongbong Marcos addressing the Australian Parliament

The Australia Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines is appalled that President Ferdinand R Marcos Jr. of the Philippines will address the Australian Parliament on 29 February 2024. His presence in the home of Australian democracy is an affront to justice, democracy, and human rights.

Under President Marcos Jr human rights abuses abound in the Philippines, corruption is worsening (from already excessive levels), and the perversion of the justice system in fact promotes injustice. State terrorism is promoted through the so-called Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

795 political prisoners face trumped up charges and a dysfunctional system incapable of delivering justice, not only in a timely manner, but not at all. Peasants, workers, human rights defenders, trade unionists, environment defenders, and community and health workers suffer the same fate as high-profile victims such as ex-Senator and Human Rights Commission Chairperson Leila de Lima – years of detention sanctioned and extended by the failed system of justice in the Philippines.

The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 [ATA] (Republic Act 11479) is a failure of legislative drafting, which sadly, was aided by the last Australian government. The definition of terrorism drawn from overseas examples is vague and supposed safeguards for legitimate political dissent are ineffective. The ATA “Implementing Rules and Regulations” (IRR) permit unfettered tagging of legitimate activities, speech and organisations as ‘terrorist’ at the whim of government, the Armed Forces and the National Police. The Anti-Terrorism Council’s power is not constrained in the ATA or the IRR. The system of justice is incapable of delivering remedies for individuals and organisations attacked under the ATA.

Crimes against International Humanitarian Law are committed in the name of “anti-terrorism”. Indiscriminate bombing of rural communities abounds such as that in Buhalan, Kalinga province in March 2023, and in Guihulngan, Negros Oriental on 5 August 2023. Extrajudicial killings continue with an established pattern beginning with terrorist tagging of legitimate organisations and individuals by the Anti-Terrorism Council, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) or military personnel. Death threats then arise from “unknown” sources. An assassination in broad daylight takes place.  Authorities and the justice system have not been able to bring any perpetrators to justice.

The Marcos Jr administration has undermined justice, democracy and the rights of the Filipino people. It is a mistake for the Australian government to accord Mr Marcos Jr. the high honour of addressing the Australian Parliament. He will try to cover up injustice in his country, and his family’s legacy of corruption. Shame! on the Albanese government for allowing this to happen.

Yours faithfully

Sr Patricia Fox, Coordinator,
Australia Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines

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