MANILA - A US -based human rights group has announced the launching of protest actions in Washington DC to coincide with the President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's visit of US President Barack Obama at the White House on July 30.
Katarungan: Center for Peace, Justice and Human Rights in the Philippines, in an event notification posted in Facebook, said that “Filipino Americans, activist networks, social justice & faith-based organizations and concerned citizens are gathering across the U.S. to inform Pres. Obama that GMA is on the “wrong side of history.”
The group said that Obama must not support Arroyo as it cited a portion of the US president’s inaugural speech: "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit, and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history."
The group said that Mrs. Arroyo “has been criticized for human rights violations in the Philippines and remains stagnant in the pursuit of justice for victims of extra-judicial killings, torture, and disappearances, GMA’s credibility and accountability is in constant question.”
They appealed to the US president to include in his discussion with President Arroyo the case of Filipino American human rights activist Melissa Roxas.
The Fil Am activist has accused the Philippine military of abducting and torturing her. Roxas returned to Manila last week from the United States to attend and testify at hearings being conducted by the Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights on her alleged abduction and torture case as well as a Court of Appeals hearing on her motion for writ of amparo. Roxas has been taken under the protective custody by the CHR.
Katarungan said that Roxas is the first American victim of torture under both the Obama and Arroyo administrations.
The US-based group also said that with Mrs. Arroyo’s reputation on human rights, the Philippine president “still possess the audacity to pursue charter change (CHA-CHA) in order to prolong political power.”
The group announced that the protest action would be held on July 30, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. in front of the White House on sidewalks in between West and East Avenues.
It also said in its Facebook event notification that the Columban Office for Advocacy and Outreach would be organizing a prayer vigil at noon on July 30 in Washington DC. The activity is reportedly co-sponsored by the Ecumenical Advocacy Network on the Philippines, the Episcopal Church, the Methodist Federation for Social Action, the Peace with Justice Program, General Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church USA-Washington DC Office, the United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries, the Migrant Heritage Commission and the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines.
On its Web site, Katarungan said it was formed in 2006 in response to the international campaign to stop the extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations in the Philippines. It said it has “transformed from an ad-hoc committee to a center that would promote peace, justice, and human rights in the Philippines through research, education and grassroots advocacy.”
The group’s announcement comes as a Malacañang official slammed a Washington Times editorial criticizing Obama's decision to invite Mrs. Arroyo to the White House on July 30.
President Arroyo is set to deliver her State of the Nation Address Monday afternoon.