Report – By the Pacific Media Centre news desk
Philippine solidarity groups in New Zealand are concerned that more than 1000 activists and journalists have been allegedly killed during the leadership of former president Macapagal-Arroyo and the number is still rising under the current Aquino presidency, say social justice advocates.
Gathered at a Northland farm, members of the Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA) conveyed a message to Philippines President Benigno Simeon Aquino III who is visiting New Zealand for two days: “We don’t like our milk going to a country where activists are tortured and killed.”
“When the previous President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, came to New Zealand in 2007, [former PM] Helen Clark raised the human rights issue with her. We challenge John Key to do the same with President Aquino.
“Considering that the Philippines is one of New Zealand’s trade and economic partners, we believe that the attainment of political stability and resolution of the human rights crisis in the Philippines should also concern the New Zealand government,” said Murray Horton, secretary of the Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA).
In a joint letter, Helen Kelly, president of NZ Council of Trade Unions, together with leaders of church-based groups Pax Christi, Christian World Service, United Methodist Church and Asian Council Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand joined calls for President Aquino to address continuing human rights abuses in light of 113 reported victims of extrajudicial killings under Aquino’s watch.
Helen Te Hira of Auckland Philippines Solidarity (APS) said: “We’re greatly disturbed that such killings continue under Aquino’s watch, especially as the victims are our indigenous brothers and sisters defending their papatuanuku (the land) and resisting mining plunder in their communities.
Māori activist Hira, an indigenous Māori activist, said: “In the Māori world view, land gives birth to all things, including humankind, and provides the physical and spiritual basis for life.”
The latest victims were members of the B’laan tribe, Juvy Capion and her two sons, who were allegedlymassacred by the Philippine army.
Juvy was a member of Kalgad, an organisation of the B’laan tribe that is opposed to the entry of Xstrata-Sagittarius Mines, Inc (SMI) as there are about 30,000 Blaan who will be displaced from their ancestral lands with the entry and operation of Australia’s Xstrata-SMI.