After Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia, the Philippines will only be the third country in history to be the subject of a session twice by the Permanent Peoplesâ€™ Tribunal (PPT).
In the website of the PPTâ€™s Second Session on the Philippines, the PPT is described as follows:
The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal is an international opinion tribunal, independent from any State authority. It examines and judges complaints regarding violations of human rights and rights of peoples that are submitted by the victims themselves or groups representing them. The Tribunal was founded in June 1979 in Italy by law experts, writers and other intellectuals. It succeeded the Russell Tribunals I and II or the International War Crimes Tribunal, which held two sessions in 1967 to expose the war crimes committed against the Vietnamese people.
The PPT is an organ of the Lelio Basso International Foundation for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples (FILB). Established in 1976 through the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peoples at Algiers (also known as the Algiers Declaration), the FILB conducts historical and juridical studies based on what it calls the â€œLaw for the Rights of Peoples.â€
â€œThe purpose is to contribute to the elaboration of principles to regulate a new order of relations which aim to promote peace, in that they are no longer based on hegemony but on interdependence,â€ reads an item on the FILBâ€™s old website.
â€œThe themes broached by the Foundation in these past years are interconnected and cut across the world crisis: democracy and market; environment and development model; relationship between development models and peoples’ cultures; minorities and nation-State,â€ the website item further reads. â€œThe South of the world is the main field for research, in that there more than anywhere else people are deprived of the fundamental rights due to every human being.â€
The FILB was set up in 1976 by Lelio Basso, an Italian anti-Fascist activist, philosopher, lawyer, journalist and statesman. Basso sat in the Russell Tribunal, presided upon by internationally-respected British philosopher and human rights advocate Bertrand Russell to judge the crimes committed by the U.S. government in its war against Vietnam. In 1973, he worked to establish a second Russell Tribunal to examine the repression by U.S. sponsored regimes in Latin America. The PPT was established in 1979, a year after his death.
Salvatore Senese, an Italian legislator, is president of the PPT. Italian physician Gianni Tognoni is the PPTâ€™s general secretary.
For its sessions, the PPT selects Member Jurors who are particularly noted for their moral and intellectual stature. It has held 34 sessions from 1979 to 2006.
In 1980, the PPT convened a Session on the Philippines to hear the case filed by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) against then President Ferdinand Marcos, the U.S. government, and U.S.-controlled financial institutions, multi-national corporations and commercial banks. The Marcos dictatorship, which was supported by the U.S. government, was specifically charged with violation of human rights and peoples rights, and crimes under international law.
After a trial, the PPT delivered a â€œGuiltyâ€ verdict on Marcos and his government â€“ in effect becoming the first international body to condemn the Marcos dictatorship. It also recognized the NDFP and the MNLF as the â€œlegitimate representativesâ€ of the Filipino and Moro peoples, respectively.
The Member Jurors of the PPT First Session on the Philippines were: Sergio Mendes Arceo, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Guernavaca, Mexico; Richard Baumlin, Swiss legal scholar and parliamentarian; Harvey Cox, professor of theology at Harvard University and author of the book Secular City; Richard Falk, professor of international law at Princeton University and noted environmentalist; Andrea Giardina, professor of international law at the University of Naples; Francois Houtart, professor of sociology at the University of Louvain; Ajit Roy, Indian writer; Makoto Oda; Ernst Utrecht, professor at Sidney University and a fellow of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam; George Wald, Nobel Prize winner and president of the First Session on the Philippines; Muireann Oâ€™ Brian, Irish lawyer; and Gianni Tognoni, coordinator of the First Session on the Philippines.
Convening in The Hague this Oct. 30 is the PPTâ€™s Second Session on the Philippines. In March next year, the PPT will be hearing a case filed against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the U.S. government, and multi-national agencies â€œacting as their accomplices in violating the individual and collective rights of the Filipino people.â€
Filing the indictment on behalf of the Filipino people are: Hustisya (Justice), an organization of human rights victims under the Arroyo administration and their relatives; Desaparecidos, a group of relatives of victims of enforced disappearances; Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainee Laban sa Detensyon at para sa Amnestiya (SELDA or Society of Ex-Detainees Against Detention and for Amnesty); and the multi-sectoral Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance).
The indictment places the highest priority on what the plaintiffs describe as the violations of civil and political rights.
The indictment, in summary, focuses on the following:
Violations of human rights, especially civil and political rights, with particular focus on summary executions, disappearances, massacres, torture as well as other vicious, brutal and systematic abuses and attacks on the basic democratic rights of the people.
Violations of human rights, especially economic, social and cultural rights of the Filipino people through the imposition of â€œfree marketâ€ globalization to exploit them; transgression of their economic sovereignty and national patrimony; various forms of economic plunder and attacks on their economic rights; and the destruction of the environment.
Violations of the rights of the people to national self-determination and liberation through the imposition of the U.S. war of terror; U.S. military intervention; as well as the perpetration of crimes against humanity and war crimes; misrepresentations of the people’s right to national liberation and self-determination as terrorism and the baseless â€œterroristâ€ listing of individuals, organizations and other entities by the U.S. and other governments.
Tognoni will be presiding during the Second Session on the Philippines. Bulatlat