Why should Filipinos in Canada care about the International Peoples Tribunal (IPT)?

The International People's Tribunal (IPT) 2024, a quasi-judicial tribunal, will investigate alleged war crimes and violations of international humanitarian law committed by the Filipino people against the US-backed regimes of Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and Rodrigo Duterte. (Photo by IPT.Media.)

By Malaya Movement Canada

Note: This is the first of a series on the International Peoples Tribunal (IPT) 2024

In 1980, the dictator Marcos the Father was tried by the Permanent People’s Tribunal. Six years later, in 1986, he was ousted by People Power. This year, Marcos the Son will be tried alongside former president Rodrigo Duterte for alleged war crimes and violations of international humanitarian law at the International People’s Tribunal.

The world’s attention will be on the  International Peoples Tribunal (IPT) 2024 on May 17-18, 2024. This quasi-judicial tribunal will investigate the case of the Filipino people versus the US-supported governments of Marcos, Jr., and Rodrigo Duterte on the alleged war crimes and violations of international humanitarian law.

Early this year, news reports talked about the promise of millions of aid by Canada under PM Justin Trudeau in its Indo-Pacific Strategy, Canada’s roadmap for its relations with the Philippines. The Philippines and Canada also signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Defense Cooperation which could evolve into a Visiting Forces Agreement VFA) with Canada, like the US VFA with the Philippines. This would mean Canadian boots on Philippine soil, joint military exercises, war games, and support for the Philippine military.

It has not been too long ago that the scandal over the sale of Canadian helicopters to the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte in 2018 hit the news with human rights complaints from human rights groups and critical voices from the NDP foreign affairs critic Helene Laverdiere and Cesar Jaramillo of the arms- control group Project Ploughshares.

Why should Canadian citizens and nearly a million Filipinos in Canada care about the IPT?

One, Canada-Philippines relationship, aid, and strategies should not trump the human rights of the Filipino people and should not be used to support the Philippine military, which already has a notorious human rights record documented by Philippine and international human rights groups. Taxpayers in Canada would do well to know where their hard-earned tax dollars go.

Second, as Canadians and overseas Filipinos who say we uphold human rights, we cannot ignore and dismiss the suffering of the victims of the gross violations of human rights in the Philippines. Last April 2, the Philippine Air Force indiscriminately bombed and fired rockets in Abra and Ilocos Sur. This incident followed a series of aerial bombings and air strikes on the border provinces of Camarines Sur and Quezon Province, Escalante, Negros, and Bukidnon. All these incidents are violations by the Philippine military of International Humanitarian Law. These are just some of the examples that do not hit the mainstream media.

BRIEF HISTORY: The idea of such an international people’s court is not new. In 1967, the Russell Tribunal, popularly known as the International War Crimes Tribunal, exposed the war crimes committed against the Vietnamese people. Note that among the notable Russell Tribunal members was Amado V. Hernandez, Filipino labour leader, poet and writer, and political prisoner. The Russell Tribunal inspired the formation of the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) which was founded in 1979 by law experts, writers, and other intellectuals.

The long history of people’s tribunals on the Philippines started in 1980 with the case of the Filipino people and the Bangsa Moro People against the Marcos, Senior regime. In 2005, the IPT held at UP Diliman tried the regime of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for gross human rights violations against the Filipino people.

In 2007, the PPT on the Philippines indicted then President Macapagal-Arroyo regime for human rights violations, economic plunder and transgression of the Filipino people’s sovereignty.

In 2015, the IPT in Washington DC found then President Aquino III and the US government under then President Obama guilty of violations of the Filipino people’s civil and political rights, economic and socio-cultural rights; and right to self-determination.

IPT 2018 (Photo credit: peoplestribunal.net)

In 2018, the IPT in Belgium found then President Rodrigo Duterte, then US president Donald Trump and international monetary organizations guilty of violating the political and economic rights and the right of the Filipino people to self-determination.

The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) officially endorses and supports the IPT 2024 on the Philippines as the objectives of the IPT align with the call of the ICHRP for an end to the armed conflict in the Philippines by addressing its root causes.

The IPT 2024 will be convened by the International Association for Democratic Lawyers (IADL) and the Friends of the Filipino People in Struggle (FFPS).

Make sure to follow the IPT 2024 online at https://peoplestribunal.net/ . ###