Groups call on Biden to bring up human rights issues in meeting with Marcos

Groups call on Biden to bring up human rights issues in meeting with Marcos
In this image provided by the White House on December 30, 2021 US President Joe Biden speaks on the phone.
White House

MANILA, Philippines — Ahead of the meeting between President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and US President Joe Biden, groups are hoping that the American leader can actually bring up human rights and the Marcos family's issues during their talks. 

Over a hundred faith organizations and groups penned an ecumenical letter urging Biden not to greenlight new military agreements with Marcos that would further lead to human rights violations and also called on Biden to support the Philippine Human Rights Act — a bill that would suspend security assistance unless the Philippines investigates allegations of rights abuses.

RELATED: US lawmaker reintroduces bill to suspend US security aid to the Philippines

“We are aghast that despite the human rights situation, our government continues to channel various forms of resources to the Philippines,” the letter read. 

“As people of faith, we strongly oppose and condemn the use of a large portion of our country’s budget to support regimes that oppress their populations.” 

Biden and Marcos Jr. are set to meet as the latter engages on an official working trip to the US in hopes of securing more economic opportunities for the Philippines. Defense talks, specifically on how to counter China in Philippine waters, are also on the table. 

'No letup' in 'war on drugs'

Just last month, Washington committed to investing more in its Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with Manila – expecting total investments in the EDCA projects in the Philippines  to reach over $100 million by the end of its fiscal year. 

But groups warn this could only worsen the human rights situation in the country.

Faith groups noted a Human Rights Report that said there has been 'no let up' in the war on drugs that was kickstarted by former President Rodrigo Duterte, facilitated by police forces. Killings continue, with Karapatan Human Rights Alliance reporting 17 extrajudicial killings from July to December 2022 and cases of red-tagging were also noted by rights groups. 

Meanwhile, the US Filipinos for Good Governance Advocacy Group also wants Biden to bring up the case of detained former Sen. Leila de Lima and his family’s history. The group noted that Marcos Jr. is the executor of estate of his late father, with a Hawaii US Court judgment. 

"Biden's officials should suggest to Marcos Jr. to settle these court cases to improve his family's reputation in the US Congress where the Philippines will have a clearly difficult time getting additional military and economic aid," USFGG said in a separate statement. — Kaycee Valmonte with a report from Gaea Katreena Cabico

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