Home Youth activism Students watch for Duterte’s victims

Students watch for Duterte’s victims

USC Troy Philippines, in partnership with the Philippine Human Rights Law District 37 Campaign, Anakbayan Los Angeles, Kabataan Alliance and Migrante Los Angeles, held a vigil for Duterte’s victims.
Participants hold signs that read messages, including "Karen Bass, endorse the PHRA - Philippine Human Rights Act!" and "Stop the killings."
Participants held placards in support of Philippine human rights law and lobbied for Bass’s support. (Talha Rafique | Daily Trojan Horse)

Holding photos of victims of police violence and chanting “more money for Duterte’s crimes,” more than 30 USC students and community members gathered on Monday evening to honor victims of the war on drugs Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and to approve the passage of the Philippine Human Rights Act. .

The event was hosted by USC Troy Philippines, District 37 Philippine Human Rights Law Campaign, Anakbayan Los Angeles, Kabataan Alliance and Migrante Los Angeles. There were speeches, a musical performance, an interfaith prayer and a call to action for human rights in the Philippines.

Speakers spoke of the loss of victims and expressed support for Philippine human rights law. The law would end U.S. funding for the Philippine military and police, which human rights groups say Duterte armed against Filipino citizens, especially the urban poor, until certain human rights measures are respected. The U.S. government provided more than $ 550 million in military aid to the Philippines between 2016 and 2019, according to the Stratbase ADR Institute.

Troy Philippines President Johannah Suegay, a communications graduate, spoke to the crowd about the history of Filipino activism and the importance of PHRA.

“USC Troy Philippines and countless other Filipino youth organizations exist today to embody this long-standing legacy of youth activism,” said Suegay. “Our organizations were created to be active, to be political and to fight for change. Filipino youth have always demanded more, demanded better for our communities, our country and our future. As an organization, we endorse the Philippine human rights law and urge United States Representative Karen Bass of District 37 here in Los Angeles to do the same.

Alex Montances, a volunteer with the Philippine Human Rights District 37 campaign team and administrative assistant at the Dornsife USC Wrigley Institute, stressed the importance of the movement, saying the money sent to the Philippine government to expand its police power would be better used to help local communities.

“We don’t want our US taxes to be used for acts of violence or to hurt people in the Philippines,” Montances said. “It’s better for health education or even for serving our communities here.”

When introduced in the last session of Congress, the Philippine human rights law brought together several cosponsors. Karen Bass, congressman from the 37th District of California, was not one of them.

Bass, whose district encompasses much of southwestern downtown Los Angeles including the USC University Park campus, sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and chairs a subcommittee on rights of man in the world. She is now running for mayor of LA, but activists like Montances are continuing their work to gain support for the PHRA.

“Whether or not she is a mayoral candidate, we are part of her constituency,” Montances said. “We are from Los Angeles. Even Karen Bass is actually a USC [alumna]. For us, we [want her to] listen to the community.

Adilene Klink, a first-year major in psychology, read the names and told the stories of the victims as the crowd lit candles to honor the lives lost.

“Even though it’s such a sad subject to bring up and broach, I felt I was able to relate to these names no [by] knowing them personally, but [by] be able to read their stories, ”Klink said. “They were living people, just like you and me, who had just been killed by the [Duterte] administration and deaths could have been preventable… They were caught too early.

In addition to asking for Bass’s support, the students stressed the need for USC to take action on human rights in the Philippines.

“First of all, it’s Filipino-American History Month. We’re trying to get the University to recognize this, or at least recognize it, on a larger scale, ”said Suegay. “I hope that by recognizing this and celebrating our history and our culture, we can also bring [these issues] enlighten. “

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