DSA Denounces U.S. Military Aid to the Duterte Regime of the Philippines

The Trump administration callously continues to support the strong-arm rule of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, whose brutal “War on Drugs” and other anti-people campaigns have taken the lives of over 29,000 urban poor, peasants, workers, indigenous and environmental activists as well as human rights defenders, religious leaders, and peace advocates.

As of November 2018, there have been 216 confirmed extrajudicial political killings, 378 victims of frustrated political killings, 100 victims of torture, around 2,000 victims of illegal arrests, over 70,000 victims of threats and harassments, and nearly half a million internal refugees under the Duterte administration.

Meanwhile, more than 16 mayors and vice mayors have been killed since President Duterte took office, and Duterte has publicly advocated the killing of Catholic bishops in press conferences during a period in which three Catholic priests were assassinated.

Union and labor leaders have also been among those attacked by the administration, with 30 labor leaders killed, 3 labor leaders being held as political prisoners, more than 200 notices of strikes taking place under Duterte’s administration, and violent dispersal of many strikes by the Philippine National Police.

In terms of Duterte’s “War on Drugs,” Philippine government agencies themselves report that 4,948 suspected drug users and dealers, including 60 children, died during police operations from July 1st, 2016 to September 30, 2018, and the Philippine National Police report 22,983 deaths classified as “homicides under investigation” since the “War on Drugs” began.

Meanwhile, Filipinos with actual drug addiction problems or histories of drug use are used as scapegoats, criminalized, and made targets by military and police, and are suffering immensely under regime policies in which funding is used to systematically murder, instead of alternatively directing funds to services to give the medical and psychological help those living with drug addiction need to alleviate their situation and contribute to their dignity and membership in Philippine society.

The “Foreign Military Financing to the Armed Forces of the Philippines” in the U.S. House Appropriations Bill 2019 states that “Extra-judicial killings in the Philippines, including those committed in the conduct of the anti-drug campaign, erode confidence in the Government of the Philippines’ commitment to human rights, due process, and the rule of law.” Nonetheless, the U.S. government continues to allocate money to the Philippines through Appropriations for the Department of State, and Foreign Operations and Related Programs. Current annual appropriations for the Philippine military amount to $184.5 million. 

Democratic Socialists of America calls on the U.S. government to immediately cease all funding and related support to the Duterte administration and the Philippine military and police. DSA furthermore calls on all U.S. political actors to uphold the findings of the International People’s Tribunal, which in 2018 found Duterte guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes. Finally, DSA calls on its members to support peaceful resistance to the Duterte administration, through their local chapters and in solidarity with Filipino and Filipina comrades living in the U.S. and the Philippines.