Akbayan (Ctitizens' Action Party) today protests an arms deal between the Philippine government Israeli military company Elbit Systems. In particular, on June 22, 2014, the government signed a US$20M deal with the Israeli military company Elbit Systems for 28 Israeli upgraded armored personnel carriers (APCs) that will be delivered in 2015. While this deal enables the government to upgrade our military facilities, it compromises the support of the Philippines for the investigation into Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people, and our general position for lasting peace in Gaza and the rest of the Palestinian Territories.
Akbayan and our allied networks of civil society and peace and human rights advocates from Palestine, represented by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) urge the Philippine government to scrap this deal especially given the crucial role of Elbit Systems has in perpetrating the oppression and massacre of innocent Palestinian people.
According to BNC, Elbit is heavily involved with the Israeli government’s military excursions in Gaza and Lebanon. In particular, Elbit “provides equipment for the Israeli Merkava tanks and produces the armed frones used in the wards and attacks against civilians in Gaza and Lebanon,” and “provides the “intrusion detection systems” for the Israeli Apartheid Wall, which is crippling Palestinian communities by isolating them in walled-in ghettos.” Likewise, “Elbit subsidiaries supplied and incorporated LORROS surveillance cameras in the illegal Ariel settlement section, as we as around Ar-Ram in the OPT (occupied Palestinian Territories).”
This indicates the clear and direct complicity of Elbit in Israel’s grave violations of universally recognized human rights.
Furthermore, according to BNC, it is precisely for this reason that the Norwegian finance ministry through their state pension fund, the largest sovereign fund in the world, led the divestment from Elbit Systems, followed by “over a dozen private and public financial institutions in Europe and elsewhere.” The gravity of Elbit’s involvement in the atrocities also prompted the UN Special Rapporteur for human rights situation in the occupied Arab territories to call for a boycott of Elbit systems. Additionally, on July 9th, 2014, an international legal opinion 10 years adter the International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on the Wall in Occupied Palestine issued by 92 high level legal experts and 41 Palestinian and international legal organisations was released. This report identifies serious breaches of international law of companies such as Elbit, and the illegality of public contracts with these war-mongering corporations.
Dear colleagues, the Palestinian people have consistently been robbed of their right to sovereign state and a dignified life by the Israeli government and its allied military corporations. With its contract with Elbit Systems, the Philippine government undermines its own position for the promotion of human rights, international law, justice and peace in Palestine.
We urge Congress to join Akbayan, the BNC and the people of Palestine in calling upon the government to scrap the deal with Elbit Systems. Certainly, the modernization of the Philippine military must not come at the expense of the lives of innocent Palestinian people and peace in Palestine and Israel.
We plan to propose cancellation of this unacceptable arms deal during the coming budget briefing of the Department of National Defense.
Thank you very much.
Hon. WALDEN F. BELLO
AKBAYAN Party-list Representative
House of Representatives
Quezon City, Philippines
((This speech was delivered Sept 1, 2014, at the House of Representatives (Parliament) of the Republic of the Philippines. The subject of the speech will be the subject of a future hearing in the appropriate congressional committees.)