ICHRP Canada launches in Ottawa

Community News & Features May 24, 2019 at 4:09 pm
ICHRP canada

Coni Ledesma, member of the negotiating panel with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and Edre Olalia, president of National Union of People’s Lawyers, were speakers in Toronto on May 14, 2019. Photo: Rene Sevilla

OTTAWA, May 13, 2019—Over 100 community leaders from cities across Canada came together at the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) headquarters in Ottawa on May 11 and 12 to launch a cross-country campaign against a backdrop of “troubled times for human rights in the Philippines” and form the Canadian chapter of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP-Canada).
The group has vowed to “strengthen our solidarity with counterparts on the ground in the Philippines” and to “exert more effective pressure on both the Canadian and Philippine governments to respect human rights in the Philippines.”
ICHRP-Canada has elected a 6-person national coordinating committee composed of human rights and peace advocates, church leaders, academics and community leaders, namely Andy Tran, Regional Coordinator for Ontario; Dani Gay, Regional Coordinator for Quebec; Whitney Haynes, Member at Large; Rev. Ndhlovu Japhet, Member at Large; Doug Booker, Secretary-General/Treasurer; and Rev. Patricia Lisson, Chairperson.
P4_DSCF9677-X3The formation of ICHRP-Canada was the result of several years of campaigning by Canada-based solidarity groups calling for freedom for political prisoners, calling to stop the killings and enforced disappearances, and raising concerns on the implications of Canadian foreign aid and investment in the Philippines.
Prior to the launch a conference was held with prominent speakers. Dr. Angie Gonzales, Global Coordinator of ICRHP, shared how the international coalition began with the “Stop the Killings” platform.
Meanwhile, people’s lawyer Edre Olalia provided a general overview of the current human rights situation in the Philippines. He discussed the so-called conspiracy “matrix” from alleged coup plotters against the government resorting to state red-tagging and what’s left of the rights of people under Duterte.
P4_DSCF9903-X3Rev. Marma Urbano, who participated in forming the US Chapter of the ICHRP, shared her personal story depicting the violence faced by community leaders and human rights defenders. Filipina fair trade activist Ruth Fe Salditos, whose own life is at risk, recounted the fight against unscrupulous landlords in Panay island, central Philippines. Both also conveyed a message of hope through the peace process in the midst of the civil war between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Coni Ledesma spoke about the relation of peace talks to the call to defend human rights further explaining that only by addressing the roots of the armed conflict would real change happen.
P4_DSCF9832-X3Canada-based members are expected to participate at the ICHRP global assembly on June 23-26, 2019 at the HKFYG Jockey Club Sai Kung Outdoor Training Camp, New Territories, Hong Kong.
“The war on drugs is a distraction from the social and economic problems plaguing the country. It’s really a war on the poor. It’s taking drug addiction as a disease, as the fundamental problem and not as a symptom of an even bigger problem.”
Dani Gay, Quebec regional representative for ICHRP Canada from the Jeunes Socialistes pour le Pouvoir Populaire (JSPP)
P12_ICHRP Logo_download“In the Philippines, if you’re not a Duterte supporter, you’re either a protector of drugs or a communist. If you criticize, if you resist, if you stand in their way, they will get you out of the way…We have to stand together amidst all the misery, amidst all the oppression, amidst all the tyranny. We have the truth! We have the people!”
Edre Olalia, president of National Union of People’s Lawyers
“For the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, our vision is clear. We want and will continue to struggle for just and lasting peace. It is only when the deepest aspirations of the people are met: land for the landless, jobs, food, education and healthcare. That is, when national and social liberation is achieved would there be peace.“
Coni Ledesma, member of the negotiating panel with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Press release