* For Immediate Release
Sunday, April 25, 2010
In the lead-up to the much anticipated Presidential elections in the Philippines, taking place in May 2010, social justice activists gathered in front of St James United Church in downtown Montreal on Saturday to highlight the over 1000 political killings in the Philippines occurring since 2001 under the administration of current President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Today, political organizers implicated in movements for social change in the Philippines are under the gun.
Amnesty International concluded in a recent report that “over recent years reports of an increased number of killings of political activists, predominately those associated with leftist or left-orientated groups, have caused increasing concern in the Philippines and internationally.”
Human rights activists held the vigil in Montreal to highlight the systemic political killings in the Philippines just two weeks before the crucial Presidential elections.
Saturday’s vigil also featured presentations from the five-person Quebec delegation traveling to the Philippines to observe May 10 Philippine elections with the Peoples’ International Observers Mission (IOM). The vigil led by Reverend Shaun E. Fryday, Minister at the Beasonsfield United Church and Fr Art Calaycay from the Philippine Independent Church (IFI).
PIOM Quebec delegate, Laura Cliche, also gave her testimony as a participant in the 2009 fact-finding mission for the Ampatuan massacre while doing an internship with the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines. Meanwhile, a street theatre paying tribute to some of the victims of political killings and enforced disappearances was also presented, along with the song Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa (Love of native land) by Bayan Canada members in Montreal.
As April 24 is also Cordillera day, the organizers of the event included a tribute to the victims of political killings among the members of the Cordillera people and played a recorded message by Dr. “Chandu” Claver, chairperson of Bayan Canada and member of the indigenous Bontoc tribe in Northern Philippines. Also present were some members of the BIBAK (Bontoc, Ifugao, Benget, Apayao, Kalinga) community in Montreal.
The event was organized to raise broad public support and awareness for the victims of the Philippine state’s Operational Plan Bantay Laya (operation “guard freedom” – a counter insurgency plan), election related violence and the important People’s International Observers Mission (PIOM) heading to the Philippines.
Event organized by the Stop the Killings in the Philippines Campaign
BAYAN Canada (Montreal)
Centre for Philippine Concerns