A global network concerned about human rights in the Philippines has launched a chapter in Canada.

International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines-Canada (ICHRP-Canada) was established at a meeting on May 11 and May 12 in Ottawa at the national headquarters of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).

PSAC is the biggest labour union representing federal Canadian employees.

ICHRP-Canada elected a six-person national coordinating committee: Andy Tran, regional coordinator for Ontario; Dani Gay, regional coordinator for Quebec; Whitney Haynes, member at large; Rev. Ndhlovu Japhet, member at large; Doug Booker, secretary-general/treasurer; and Rev. Patricia Lisson, chairperson.

Gay of Quebec said that the Philippine government’s war on drugs is a “distraction from the social and economic problems plaguing the country”.

“It’s really a war on the poor. It’s taking drug addiction as a disease, as the fundamental problem and not as a symptom of an even bigger problem,” Gay said.

Edre Olalia, president of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, a group based in the Philippines, was a guest in the launch of ICHRP-Canada.

“In the Philippines, if you’re not a Duterte supporter, you’re either a protector of drugs or a communist,” Olalia said, referring to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. “If you criticize, if you resist, if you stand in their way, they will get you out of the way.”

ICHRP is a global network of organizations outside the Philippines. It seeks to inform the international community about the human rights situation in the country.

ICHRP has member organizations in Asia, Middle East, Europe, and the Americas. Its global council includes Bern Jagunos of Toronto, who is the coalition’s general secretary.


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