Filipino activists held a candlelight vigil at Grove Street Plaza in Jersey City, urging congressmen from New Jersey to support the Philippine Human Rights Act (PHRA).
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
They want to see the end of U.S. financial support for the regime of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.
Yves Nibungco, of the Malaya Movement, said they are jailing and killing “regular people like you who only wanted a better life for themselves are being systematically murdered by the Philippine government under the dictatorial rule of Rodrigo Duterte.”
“More than $700 million of our tax money has been sent to fund the Philippine military and the Philippine national police. These are our tax dollars that could have stayed in our community to fund social services to fund housing that is badly needed in Jersey City, to fund jobs, to fund infrastructure, to fund our crumbling infrastructure here in Jersey City. But, instead, it is being sent halfway across the globe.”
He noted that the protest in Jersey City was part of a nationwide action concurrent with events in Los Angeles and New York City.
“There’s a lot that we can do in Jersey City. There are four legislators in New Jersey that are part of the House Foreign Affairs Committee … that can make a difference.”
He noted that along with local U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8), U.S. Reps. Andy Kim (D-3), Tom Malinowski (D-7), and Chris Smith (R-4) are members of the committee and urged people to write them in favor of the PHRA.
“None of them have co-sponsored the Philippine Human Rights Act. Stand for human rights. Stand for democracy and stand for the people who only want civil liberties, who only want democracy,” Nibungco added.
He continued that the PHRA would suspend “funding the Philippine government until the government can prove it’s not funding mass genocide and murder in the Philippines.”
“Call our legislators that we can no longer waste any time. They are killing innocent civilians just like you that want to have a better life.”
Additionally, activist Chris Phan noted many have lost their lives fighting for a better life in the Philippines to be free of exploitation.
He decried the regime for imprisoning activists, journalists, unionists, and church leaders. Another activist said the regime has killed 30,000 dissidents.
“There is no other choice but to resist in the Philippines where the conditions are so bad … They were killed and shot down by the Filipino government,” Phan said.
Photos of some of the victims of the Duterte regime were displayed with the dates that they disappeared next to flowers and candles.
He also noted that Duterte is a fan of former dictatorial President of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos and has been more even vicious.
Phan explained an anti-terror law passed last year has made it worse there, since the Anakbayan and Gabriela groups are considered terrorists by the regime.
Phan said that other Filipino organizations on West Side Avenue have followed orders from the Filipino consulate and called them terrorists.
“The consulate is working with Filipino organizations here … working with Duterte supporters here … to actively target the organizations that are vocalizing the concerns and banding together,” Phan stated.
He led the group chanting, “From New Jersey to the Philippines, stop the U.S. war machine!”