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Militarization Still Remains Despite “Lifting” Martial law in Mindanao

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Martial Law in Mindanao has been “lifted” after two and a half years of bombardments, displacement, curfews, checkpoints, among other increased human rights violations. However it remains under a “state of emergency” as described by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Our National Democratic alliance of BAYAN USA, composed of Migrante USA, Gabriela USA, and Anakbayan-USA understands this move by the U.S.-Duterte regime as a mere PR stunt, scrubbing the title of “martial law” while the conditions of militarization by both the Philippine and U.S. military will remain in Mindanao. 

“While martial law has been lifted, the economic destruction, political persecution and displacement of communities continue. More than 200,000 people are still displaced in Mindanao with 100,000 of them still homeless after the Marawi siege in May 2017,” says Bernadette Herrera, Migrante USA Chairperson. “Meanwhile, the government has readily paved the way for the U.S., China and other foreign countries to benefit from the destruction of Marawi through construction projects, foreign loans and other means,” adds Herrera.

The current state of the Philippines is that a de-facto martial law is in force across the whole country. With Oplan Kapanatagan and Executive Order 70, among other memoranda, the US-Duterte regime has weaponized the civilian bureaucracy to engage in the “whole of nation” counterinsurgency approach, creating a National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTFELC). The government departments are organized into twelve “operational clusters” to support military operations against the revolutionary movement as well as groups and individuals opposing Duterte and labeled as “communist fronts” in order to justify violent attacks against them.  

EO70 and M32 have institutionalized Duterte’s counter-insurgency program throughout the entire civilian bureaucracy, so now he has no need for the label of martial law. We are witnessing de facto martial law in effect, through the nationwide crackdown on activists and their organizations, from Negros to the Cordilleras. The AFP and PNP goons of NTFELC are surveilling, harassing, vilifying, charging with fabricated crimes, and murdering farmers, religious leaders, journalists, lawyers, workers, and students who continue to resist the repression of the Duterte regime,” stated Rhonda Ramiro, BAYAN-USA Chair. 

“The control that US Military exerts over Mindinao draws parallels to the control exerted over working women’s bodies and livelihoods amidst the semi-feudal and semi-colonial crisis in the Philippines”, stated Irma Shauf-Bajar, Chairperson of Gabriela USA. “ AFP, PNP and CAFGU, the state-sponsored forces who enforced Martial Law in Mindanao,  are directly trained and armed by US tax dollars and personnel. We have seen the devastation and degradation of self determined communities of women and all oppressed masses over the course of this overseas contingency operation.”

The Filipino people will not be fooled by this stunt of the Philippine government. The conditions that stoke conflict in Mindanao—landlessness, the plunder of resources by multinational companies, the lack of dignity and respect for the Moro people, among many others—are still present despite martial law being lifted in name. “We must ramp up, not let up, our fight against these root problems,” asserted Adrian Bonifacio, chairperson of Anakbayan-USA. “The youth—who have been terrorized by martial law in indigenous schools, at agricultural plantations, and at the picket line—must be ready to struggle even harder and lead the next generation in the fight for genuine democracy and independence.”

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CAUTION: CHARTER CHANGE SECRETLY RAMMED FORWARD BY DUTERTE REGIME

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 19, 2019 

Contact:  Nikole Cababa, secgen@bayanusa.org 

Rhonda Ramiro, chair@bayanusa.org 

CAUTION: CHARTER CHANGE SECRETLY RAMMED FORWARD BY DUTERTE REGIME

On Dec 11th, the House of Representatives in the Philippines passed a charter change resolution behind closed-doors to seek to amend the 1987 Constitution and lay the ground to pass charter change provisions early next year.  The resolution was secretly passed without the knowledge of the public and media, and while the Southeast Asian Games absorbed national attention.

What is Charter Change?  

Charter Change, widely dubbed as “Cha Cha” is any revision (e.g. structural change: federalism) or amendment (e.g. changing term limits) to the Philippine Constitution. The resolution was led by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and passed by a small executive committee of 14 members, while the House is nearly 300 members.  

The provisions passed included:

 

  • Extending the terms limits of House representatives from 3 years to 5 years, and three consecutive terms
  • Cutting senatorial terms from 6 years to 5 years (3 consecutive terms)
  • Requiring the election of three senators from 9 regions, increasing the current number from 24 to 27 senators
  • Requiring the President and Vice President be elected from the same party
  • Giving the Congress and Senate (largely controlled and influenced by Duterte and his allies) the power to enact a law to ease restrictions on foreign ownership of Filipino businesses and utilities.

 

The 1987 Philippine Constitution currently restricts foreign ownership of businesses to 40%, while this new provision entitles the Congress to by-pass the public and be allowed to pass laws allowing for potentially 100% foreign ownership.

 

Why is this important?

The Philippine Constitution is considered the most important written document outlining the law of the land, principles of the government to uphold national interests, and protection of the rights guaranteed to every Filipino citizen.  As reflected in the Constitution, this closed session meeting circumvents the Congress’ responsibility to convene a Constituent Assembly, Constitutional Convention, or People’s Initiative where people can directly oppose charter changes.

Ultimately, this Cha Cha resolution is an attempt to relax the current Constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership of public utilities, media, natural resources, land, advertising, and educational institutions.  This only leaves the country and its citizens at the mercy of more neoliberal policies, private ownership, corruption, and foreign monopoly control resulting in outrageously high prices, low quality services, lack of transparency and accountability to everyday Filipinos.

“The biggest benefactors of this Charter Change resolution would be the foreign multi-national corporations from the US, China, and other big countries, while nationally-owned Filipino businesses would drown in a sea of foreign investors.  This back door deal is only meant to profit the Duterte regime, the ruling elite and foreign investors salivating over the natural resources of the Philippines.” said Rhonda Ramiro, Chairperson of BAYAN USA

The Fight Continues

The proposal requires a three-fourths vote from both the House and the Senate, and, if passed, it would pave the way for the Duterte regime to advance its economic provisions and attempts to change the government structure to federalism. 

We must remain vigilant in monitoring and condemning any attempts by the Duterte regime and his cronies to ram forward Charter Change and undermine Philippine sovereignty.  Ramiro continued, “The traitorous Duterte has proven he leads loyalists in Congress who treat their government positions as mere tools for business transactions with wealthy elite and foreign investors, rather than honor their sworn commitment to be public servants of the people.”  There is widespread opposition to cha-cha given its immense impact on the people, politics, economy, environment, and future generations. “We can not allow Duterte to shamefully undermine the Philippine Constitution and national sovereignty. History has taught us that only the people united can hold officials accountable and topple corrupt officials like Duterte and foreign oppressors.” 

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BAYAN-USA is an alliance of over 29 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing students, scholars, women, workers, artists, and youth. As the first and largest international chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of the Philippines and as a center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist and progressive Filipinos in the U.S. For more info, visit bayanusa.org

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Filipino People Rise to Resist Fascism and Defend Human Rights on International Human Rights Day

Filipino People Rise to Resist Fascism and Defend Human Rights on International Human Rights Day

 

Washington D.C. – BAYAN USA DC-MD-VA commemoration of the 71st Human Rights Day, alongside allies in the People over Profit, Planet Over Profit Action.

 

The well-known resilience of the Filipino people is not inherent but derived from years of resistance against oppression.  Just as Filipinos fought the US-Marcos regime, the Filipino people continue to fight back against the U.S.-Duterte regime. As basic human rights are violated and lives are stolen, the imperative to oust this regime is urgent. But beyond mere survival, Filipinos have always fought for liberation. We must intensify and elevate this revolutionary legacy to smash the power of the oligarchs and build a new government that reflects the aspirations of the people. 

Today, on International Human Rights Day, let us all honor the contributions of those who have fought to defend the basic human rights of peasants, workers, women and children, and have been abruptly taken from this world at the hands of the state. According to Philippine human rights organization Karapatan, more than 293 people have been targeted and extrajudicially killed by the government forces and this will only increase with his counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapanatagan intensified through Executive Order 70. In addition, there are nearly 30,000 people killed in the “drug war.”

Karapatan also counts more than 629 political prisoners, with 382 of them arrested under Duterte’s regime. Let us also continue to demand for their immediate release, especially because their alleged charges are false and lack any evidence.  We call for the release of peace advocates and peace negotiators in the Philippines, namely, Rey Claro Casambre, Vic Ladlad, Renante Gamara, and among others who were illegally arrested, in violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

Though the peace talks between the Government Republic of the Philippines(GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines(NDFP) was halted soon after Duterte declared Martial Law in Mindanao, we must continue to push to resume negotiations to address the root causes of the armed conflict which would ultimately address the massive poverty, landlessness, and need for self-sustainability of the Philippines and the Filipino people. There is not only hope for a better Philippines but a detailed roadmap, which can be seen if one just takes a look at the full comprehensive program outlined by the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms- CASER.

This is what the Philippines could be. This is what the National Democratic movement is fighting for. As Duterte continues down the violent fascist path through the drug war and Oplan Kapanatagan, he is simultaneously digging his own grave. As the death-toll rises, more and more people who have never thought of themselves as activists are drawn to join a movement that seeks to dismantle the current state of the Philippines and build a new state that does not utilize repression to maintain its power. They want to be part of something much larger than themselves. Today, on International Human Rights Day, let us not only remember those who have been martyred by the political turmoil in the Philippines, let us continue what they were fighting for and take the necessary steps to grow the movement for National Democracy – national industrialization, genuine agrarian reform – a self-sufficient sovereign Philippines!

Brandon Lee is a survivor of an attempted killing by the Philippine State because of his human rights work in the Cordilleras; he is resilient and will continue his path towards recovery!  Let us continue supporting him and his family by donating HERE 

International Human Rights Day Greetings from Brandon Lee:

 

 

Fight Tyranny! Resist Duterte’s dictatorship!

Stop the Killings! Stop the Attacks!

Justice for Brandon Lee! Justice for All!

Free All Political Prisoners!

End Martial Law in Mindanao Now! End Oplan Kapanatagan, MO 32, and EO 70!

 

BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 29 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing students, scholars, women, workers, artists, and youth. As the first and largest international chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of the Philippines and as a center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist and progressive Filipinos in the U.S.  For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org.

BAYAN USA “Updates from the Philippines” on Apex Express Radio 94.1 KPFA

BAYAN USA’s “Updates from the Philippines” segment was featured on Apex Express Radio show explores President Duterte’s “accomplishments” in the Philippines at his mid-term of 3yrs and what people are doing to stop him in his tracks from completing a full term as the year comes to a close.

Listen as it opens the show, and continue listening to hear more about the Sri Lankan Presidential elections results splitting the country across ethnic lines. 

Donate to the #SaveBrandonLee campaign here