Santa Monica resident Kelly Hayes-Raitt plans to join a team of peacemakers who will travel to the Philippines next month to meet with human rights workers, community leaders and government officials in and around the capital of Manila.
Hayes-Raitt, who has served as a member of the Santa Monica Commission on the Status of Women, was a candidate for the 41st Assembly District seat in 2006, eventually won by Assemblymember Julia Brownley.
Hayes-Raitt and the peacemakers plan to visit the sites of former U.S. military bases at Subic Bay and Clark, where abandoned hazardous wastes still endanger the health of people living in nearby impoverished communities.
They will also travel to the southern island of Mindanao, where a decades-long armed conflict between indigenous Muslim groups and the Philippine government continues despite peace negotiations.
“The U.S. gives millions of dollars in military funding to the Philippines every year; I hope to find out more about the human rights situation in that country,” said Hayes-Raitt. “During the past few years, there have been hundreds of killings and disappearances of community workers, journalists, and even church leaders. I’d like to better understand why my government is funding such repression.”
Hayes-Raitt traveled to Iraq five weeks before the U.S.-led invasion and bombings of Baghdad in 2003, and again 12 weeks after the war began. She addressed more than 200 audiences and briefed Congresswomen in the Capitol about her experiences.
From the Philippines, she plans to blog regularly at www .PeacePATHFoundation.org
The delegation is organized by Christian Peacemaker Teams, a faith-based initiative of the “historic peace churches” (Mennonites, Church of the Brethren and Quakers), with support and membership from a range of Catholic and Protestant denominations.
Since 1993, Christian Peacemaker Teams has placed violence-reduction teams in conflict settings in the Middle East, Haiti, Latin America, Europe and North America. The organization sent its first delegation to the Philippines in January 2007 and Hayes-Raitt traveled with the group in March to the West Bank in Israel.
Hayes-Raitt plans to address local organizations about the Philippines after her return March 8th.
To schedule a presentation, www.PeacePATHFoundation.org.