Wild accusations

There was something supremely ironic about a bill filed by a US congresswoman seeking to suspend American security assistance to the Philippines until the Duterte administration institutes reforms in the military and police to end human rights abuses here.

Wild accusations

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania Rep. Susan Wild sought the enactment of her proposed Philippine Human Rights Act, which would halt US assistance for the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, which she said are responsible for committing human rights abuses against labor organizers, workers and the political opposition.

Wild cited widespread human rights violations perpetrated by what she described as President Duterte’s “brutal regime.”

Six months before Wild’s sponsorship speech, Louisville white police officers who did not identify themselves barged into the apartment of a 26-year-old Black woman, Breonna Taylor, and shot her dead in an anti-drug operation gone wrong. No drugs were found and Taylor, an emergency medical worker, had no criminal record. But the police used a refrain we have long heard here: the other side shot first. Taylor’s boyfriend, who insists the police failed to identify themselves, had squeezed off one shot at the intruders before Taylor was killed in a hail of police bullets.

Less than a week after Wild’s sponsorship speech, a grand jury in Louisville, Kentucky cleared all three police officers of wrongdoing in the shooting death of Taylor, signaling that there are no legal consequences of breaking into an innocent Black woman’s home and shooting her dead, as long as you are police in search of drugs. Sounds familiar.

On May 25, two months after police shot Taylor dead, a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, planted his knee on the neck of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who was already handcuffed and lying face down and being restrained by two other officers. Despite Floyd’s pleading that he could not breathe, the white police officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes—until he was dead.

The transcripts of bodycam footage as well as video shot by bystanders who pleaded with the police to stop, show Floyd said more than 20 times he could not breathe. He was also pleading for his mother and begging “please, please, please.”

Both killings sparked widespread outrage and protests, not only from the Black community but from all Americans who were sickened by the abuse of power by the police.

On June 1, peaceful protesters at Lafayette Square near the White House in Washington DC calling for action on Floyd’s murder were violently dispersed by law enforcement officers to clear a path for President Donald Trump to walk to a nearby church so that he could hold up a Bible in a bizarre photo op.

A number of law enforcement agencies were involved in the violent dispersal at Lafayette Square, including the US Park Police, the US Secret Service, the DC National Guard, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Arlington County Police Department, US Marshals, Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Defense Department officials also directed National Guard helicopters to use a “persistent presence” to disperse protesters. Helicopters, including a twin-engine UH-60 Black Hawk and UH-72 Lakota, were observed in a “low-flying show of force” over protesters who had again gathered later in the evening.

Given her own country’s spotty track record in combating abuse of power, Wild’s attempts to impose a moral imperative on the Philippines seem ironic, indeed.

Congresswoman Wild is free to propose any legislation before the US Congress, of course, but wouldn’t it be a more productive use of her time and energy to address the rampant police abuse and clear human rights violations in her own country, before she pokes her nose into ours?

Topics: Duterte administration , Susan Wild , Philippine Human Rights Act
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