Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Weapons for Duterte

Anti-war and human rights groups have issued an open letter calling on the U.S. Congress to put a halt to two pending arms sales to the Philippines totally nearly $2 billion, warning that President Rodrigo Duterte's track record of human rights violations.

At issue are two possible sales of U.S. military hardware adding up to nearly $2 billion. The larger of the two, at an estimated $1.5 billion, is for six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters. The other possible sale is for six AH-1Z attack helicopters and related equipment totalling roughly $450 million.

"What could help the Filipinos right now is aid for their under-resourced healthcare system and for programs to assist poor people to survive during the current lockdown, not an arms sale," the letter to U.S. lawmakers reads. "We plead with you to use your voice against the gross human rights violations in the Philippines and put forth a resolution to stop arms sales to the Duterte administration until the government takes the effective steps to end human rights abuses."

Duterte has placed the military in charge of COVID-19 response. On April 1, he ordered troops to “shoot dead” quarantine violators, causing human rights abuses to immediately surge. The next day, a farmer, Junie Dugog PiƱar, was shot and killed by police for violating the COVID-19 lockdown in Agusan del Norte, Mindanao. Police have locked curfew violators in dog cages, used torture and sexual humiliation as punishment against LGBTQ people, and beaten and arrested urban poor people protesting for food. Beatings and killings to enforce “enhanced community quarantine” continue.


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