Statement on the killings of 14 innocent farmers in Negros Oriental in the Philippines

Farmers fight back

From the Philippine Australia Solidarity Association (PASA)

Philippine Australia Solidarity Association (PASA) is deeply distressed by the recent killings of 14 innocent farmers in Negros Oriental on the 30th March 2019 by elements of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

These killings which took place under the cover of so-called ‘legitimate’ police operations, and the need for government forces to defend themselves, have been shown by witness testimony to have been brutal attacks on defenseless civilians.

Farmer families mourn their dead

These killings are especially disturbing, considering the worsening human rights situation in the Philippines. Thirty thousand people have been killed in a so-called ‘drug war’, political opposition and civil society organisations are increasingly under attack, and killings of human rights defenders and community activists has dramatically increased over the last 12 months.

We are particularly concerned at the silence of our Australian government and its failure to make significant diplomatic and public protests in regard to the deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines.

We are disturbed that the Australian government continues to provide extensive support and training to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, regardless of the appalling human rights record of the Philippine military. We are particularly disturbed by the uncritical support that the newly appointed Australian ambassador Steven Robinson has extended to the Philippine president.

Only days after this most recent and brutal attack on innocent farmers in Negros, Robinson announced further support for the military and spoke of the President in obscenely affectionate terms, saying “And many people have said to me that they find the President to be sincere and passionate. I’ve now experienced that, so I believe that to be true.”

Members of peasant organizations and support groups rally in front of the Department of Agriculture (DAR) headquarters in Quezon City as they continue to demand justice for the farmers that was recently killed in the southern Philippines. Lighting candles and singing songs, they lit candles to remember the Negros 14 farmers. April 5, 2019

That such affirmation can come from our Australian representative given the murderous rhetoric and the self confessed human right crimes committed by the President. which are a matter of public record, are deeply disturbing and raise real questions about the moral complicity of the Australian government in the human rights crimes of the Philippine government.

PASA joins the many voices both within the Philippines and internationally that are calling for immediate and independent investigation of these events, and for those who are responsible, to face prosecution for the abuses and human rights violations that they have inflicted on the victims, their families and communities.

We call on the Australian government to raise meaningful diplomatic protests, in regard to murderous actions of the Philippine security forces in Negros and in regard to the deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines, suspend military support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and  distance itself from what has emerged as one of the most brutal regimes in Southeast Asia.

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