Month: June 2017

Duterte’s First Year: Unfulfilled Promises

For Immediate Release

June 30, 2017

Contact:  Jessica Antonio, BAYAN USA Secretary General, secgen@bayanusa.org

Duterte’s First Year:  Unfulfilled Promises

Today marks the completion of Rodrigo Duterte’s first term as President of the Philippines. Last year, the People’s Summit at the University of the Philippines brought together youth, workers, peasants, women, indigenous people, health professionals, artists, and educators to produce a 15 point people’s agenda laying out the demands and much needed reforms on various topics such as the economy, social policy, peace and human rights, national sovereignty, and governance.  The election of Duterte, the former Mayor of Davao City in Mindanao, demonstrated a clear desire from the Filipino people for genuine change; however, how much has really changed?

Duterte began his term on a promising note with his appointment of progressive Filipino leaders such as Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Judy Taguiwalo to the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD), and Liza Masa to the National Anti-Poverty Commission.  In contrast to his predecessor, Duterte made a distinctive move to pursue peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) which successfully completed four rounds of talks, resulted in the release of 19 NDFP peace consultants, and forged an agreement on free land distribution. On the other hand, much of Duterte’s progressive rhetoric simply became unfilled promises.

(Photo Caption: Peasant leader Florida “Ka Pong” Sibayan finally receives her Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) from the Department of Agrarian Reform after years of struggle for land and justice.)

(Photo: Bernabe Ocasla on respiratory support before his death.)

 

Prospects for Peace

Duterte’s flip-flop fashion can also be seen in the struggle for genuine peace in the Philippines.  He began his year making promises to release more than 400 political prisoners facing trumped up charges. Instead, he has yet to grant general amnesty, and his administration is marked with new political prisoners and the untimely deaths of Bernabe Ocasla and Ed Serrano

Bowing Down to the US and Violating Philippine Sovereignty

Duterte made bold headlines by declaring he would pursue an independent foreign policy, particularly away from US foreign influence.  Yet after a year, Duterte has not terminated any of the lopsided agreements that benefit the US, including the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).  Instead, Duterte has conceded even more power to the AFP and US minions such as General Eduardo Ano and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.  Foreign intervention in the Philippines continues unabated with US military troops, advisors and special forces present for the recent Balikatan war exercises, intelligence gathering using drone surveillance, “battlespace awareness” provision in Marawi, and weapons.

(Photo Caption:  United States Army Col. Ernest Lee, center left, with Philippine Marine Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat during a handover of counter-terrorism weapons in Taguig, east of Manila, last week.Credit: Bullit Marquez/Associated Press)

Workers Worse Off

A critic of labor contractualization in word, the Duterte administration failed to do anything significant in action to regularize workers or raise the national minimum wage.  At least 21 million Filipinos continue to live in extreme poverty on less than two dollars a day. The International Trade Union Confederation released a report naming the Philippines as one of the worst countries in the world for workers.  The police forces continue to intervene in labor union activities by using violent dispersals and union busting tactics in order to protect foreign companies, such as the Korean-owned Shin Sun Tropical Fruit Corporation. 

(Photo Caption: Kilusang Mayo Uno/”May First Movement” leading the campaign to demand a a national minimum wage)

Social Services and Neoliberal policies

The Duterte administration has also failed to provide basic social services to the people to improve their quality of life, including housing, health, and education.  The failure of his administration to address the housing crisis has also left many urban poor communities with no other option but to organize for their rights and occupy government housing projects that lie idle.  

Duterte’s over-reliance on foreign investments and the lack of concrete steps towards national industrialization will only worsen the import-dependent and export-oriented economy.  Without addressing widespread government corruption, the problem of pork barrel persists, and the deep cuts to social services and education only demonstrate Duterte’s pursuit of upholding neoliberal policies and exporting Filipinos as cheap labor across the globe.  

(Photo Caption: Kadamay “Association of the Urban Poor” led the organizing efforts to occupy public housing that lay idle for years.)

Youth and Education

In the first year of the implementation of the K-12 program, it is estimated that at least 2.5 million Filipino youth dropped out of school. The commercialization of education and the lack of decent jobs has pushed more youth into the margins, particularly working class and poor youth.  The costs of tuition and school fees are also on the rise at 1,013 elementary and high schools, placing the burden on impoverished families struggling to survive.

(Photo Caption: Student activists call on Duterte to stop tuition hikes and provide free education to the youth.)

Human Rights Violations

Duterte’s infamous “Oplan Tokhang” Drug War has led to over 8,000 extrajudicial killings.  Duterte’s drug war has disproportionately affected urban poor communities neglected by his own administration, instead of targeting big drug dealers and corrupt government officials that perpetuate the drug epidemic.  A persistent culture of impunity within the administration also fails to hold accountable the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for human rights violations.  

(Photo by:  Dondi Tawatao, Getty Images.  Wife embraces her husband, a victim of the Duterte’s drug war.)

Duterte’s “all-out war” and “Oplan Kapayapaan” counterinsurgency program have resulted in the military occupation of schools and indigenous communities, aerial bombings, mass displacement, illegal arrests and harassment of civilian communities.  The problem has only exacerbated with over a month of Marcos-style Martial Law being implemented on the entire island of Mindanao.  The incessant bombings have forced over 400,000 Filipinos in Marawi and surrounding areas to seek refuge in makeshift evacuation centers while their homes and livelihood continue to be destroyed.  Many of those fleeing for refuge have undergone trauma, family separation, illness, and starvation.  While Duterte has made his rounds to various military camps to promote his martial law declaration, he has even gone as far as promoting violence against women and making rape jokes at the expense of vulnerable women and children living under military rule and abuse of power.  The recent arrest of the “Davao 4” in Mindanao, the human rights activists from Karapatan and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), is indicative of the continuous criminalization of activism.

What Must Be Done

We call on Duterte to immediately lift Martial Law, pursue the peace talks to address critical socio-economic reforms, end Oplan Kapayapaan and Oplan Tokhang, and fulfill his promises to release political prisoners, create a national minimum wage, and uphold Philippine sovereignty.  Whether Duterte decides to follow the will of the people or bow to the interests of U.S. imperialism and the militarists in his regime, the masses will never stop organizing for genuine social change and the liberation of our nation.

(Photo: June 12, 2017 National Day of Prayer and Action for Peace and Human Rights, Philippines)

 

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BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 20 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas 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 Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org

Loud & Clear Radio: Will Duterte Declare Martial Law Across All of the Philippines?

Loud & Clear Radio: Will Duterte Declare Martial Law Across All of the Philippines?

Listen to “Will Duterte Declare Martial Law Across All of the Philippines?” on Spreaker.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has raised the possibility of initiating martial law across the country, one day after it was declared on the island of Mindanao. Is the country returning to the bleak days of dictatorship? Bernadette Ellorin, the chair of BAYAN-USA, joins the show.

Pagpupugay Para Kay Ka Bal (Salute to Ka Bal)

June 13, 2017

It is with great sadness and inspiration that BAYAN-USA pays tribute to Kasamang Baltazar “Bal” Pinguel, who passed away last Saturday, June 10. We send our heartfelt condolences to Ka Bal’s wife, Chato, his family and loved ones for their loss.

BAYAN-USA remembers and thanks Ka Bal for dedicating his life in service of the Filipino people, and other peoples oppressed by U.S. imperialism. In life and beyond, Ka Bal is an inspiration to generations of young Filipino activists who embrace the cause of genuine national freedom and democracy in the Philippines, including those of us in the Filipino diaspora. As the last open spokesperson of the Kabataang Makabayan before it went underground in the early 70’s, Ka Bal was well-known as a fiery orator who contributed to the agitation of thousands of Filipino youth and students to wage a nationwide anti-imperialist struggle against US military presence in the Philippines, and particular to that time the use of U.S. bases in the Philippines as launching pads for the U.S. invasion of Vietnam and Indochina for over 20 years.

Ka Bal was also a victim of the US-backed fascist dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, and was a long-held political prisoner and torture victim who along with eight others led the first mass jailbreak under martial law in 1973. After being arrested and imprisoned again in 1980, Ka Bal participated in a prisoner hunger strike that caught the attention of the international media and led to his release in January 1985. Ka Bal would later help form the largest anti-dictatorship united front in the country– Bagong Alyansang Makabayan or BAYAN– later that year. Ka Bal served as  BAYAN’s first Deputy Secretary-General.

Years later, Ka Bal sought and was granted political asylum in the United States, where he continued as a peace and justice activist with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), and as a leader in United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), a U.S. anti-war coalition founded in 2002 in response to the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ka Bal kept in close touch with comrades in the Philippines as well as with Filipino activists in the US. He supported BAYAN-USA and agreed to serve as an advisor.

In 2016, his final year, Ka Bal was with BAYAN-USA activists and others protesting the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani (National Heroes Cemetery) in front of the Philippine Consulate in New York City.

The spirit of Ka Bal and fruits of his example will live on in younger and future generations of Filipino activists in the Philippines and around the world. In this time of intensifying global crisis as well as U.S.-led war, militarism, and neo-fascism, let us best honor him by advancing the Filipino people’s struggle for genuine freedom and democracy in the country, and towards the liberation of the world’s peoples from imperialist aggression, oppression and exploitation.

Mabuhay ang Diwa ni Kasamang Bal Pinguel!

US Troops Out of the Philippines!

Down with US Imperialism!

Mabuhay ang Sambayanan Pilipino!

Continue the Struggle for Genuine Philippine Independence! US OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES!

In commemoration of Philippine Independence Day, BAYAN-USA joins thousands of people in the Philippines and worldwide in a National Day of Prayer calling for genuine peace, justice, sovereignty, and human rights in the Philippines.

After 377 years under Spanish colonial rule and 44 years of U.S. direct colonial rule, the Philippine Revolution of 1898 for genuine independence remains unfinished. Despite the June 12, 1946 declaration of Philippine Independence, BAYAN-USA recognizes that U.S. imperialist domination of the Philippines persists.  We condemn the recent actions of President Duterte and his pro-U.S.imperialist lackeys Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces Chief Eduardo Ano to continue allowing the U.S. to trample on Philippine sovereignty.  The declaration of martial law in Mindanao, Duterte-supported intervention of U.S. Special Action Forces in Marawi, Mindanao and increased militarization will not address the root causes of the armed conflict in the region or the country. President Duterte must end martial law in Mindanao, remove all U.S. troops, personnel and advisors from Philippine soil and put an end to the gross human rights violations and impunity in the Philippines.

At the same time, we protest the aggressive moves of China to claim more territory in the West Philippine Sea and increase its presence in the Philippine economy. President Duterte has shown a lack of political will in asserting the Philippines’ sovereign right to the territory as confirmed by the ruling of the U.N. Permanent Court of Arbitration. Moreover, his dealings with China’s leaders point to an invitation to China to pour capital into questionable infrastructure projects in the Philippines that benefit purely foreign interests.  We call on President Duterte to live up to his original pronouncements of pursuing an independent foreign policy, including guarding against aggravating threats of Chinese imperialist incursions.   

An independent foreign policy must focus on the internal development of the Philippine economy to eliminate its historic and current export-dependent, import-oriented character towards a self-reliance via free land distribution, domestic agricultural development and national industrialization. This includes voiding all U.S. and foreign agreements that favor foreign interests at the expense of national interests, including military agreements such as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). While rumors about the presence of “foreign terrorists” in the Philippines run rampant, we remind President Duterte that the #1 terrorist force in the world is already confirmed to be operating in the Philippines: the U.S. military. It was U.S. Special Operations Forces who were deployed on a “permanent rotational” basis in Mindanao since the declaration of the Philippines as the “second front” in the so-called war on terror in 2001. It was U.S. FBI and intelligence personnel involved in the Mamasapano debacle which resulted in the needless deaths of Filipino civilians and police forces. It has been thousands of U.S. troops deployed year after year to conduct military exercises with Philippine forces. Now, it is U.S. Special Action Forces deployed to provide “technical assistance” to Philippine military in Marawi. For as along as U.S. military intervention remains in the Philippines, genuine Philippine independence remains unrealized.

The recent declaration of martial law by the Duterte regime is also the hand of the U.S. government at play. The declaration comes when the peace process between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines reached a critical stage– an agreement to free land redistribution at the end of the 4th round of talks.  The 5th round was set to tackle its implementation along with other urgent social and economic reforms outlined in the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) that would pave the way for the eradication of crushing poverty, landlessness, and joblessness suffered by the vast majority of the Filipino people, and at the root of the armed conflict in the country. The declaration of martial law in the whole island of Mindanao as a response to armed clashes in one city in one province in the Moro territory is also an orchestrated play to include and revive the Bush-Arroyo era branding of the New People’s Army (NPA) also as terrorists and therefore an open target of the Philippine military, in effect sabotaging the peace process, now with an increased presence of U.S. Special Forces.

The roots of the armed conflict and chronic social crisis and unrest in the Philippines lies in its economic underdevelopment, dependence on foreign dictates, and lack of sovereignty. BAYAN USA calls on President Rodrigo Duterte to act on his prior pronouncements of being the leader of a sovereign state and reject the pro-U.S. militarists in his Cabinet behind the martial law declaration.. Just as Duterte rejected U.S. military presence in Mindanao while he was still Mayor of Davao City, Duterte as President of the Philippines must reject U.S. military presence in the Philippines, revoke martial law, and pursue a diplomatic and peaceful means of resolving the conflict and human rights crisis in Marawi. Continue the peace process with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines towards the implementation urgent economic reforms the Filipino people need for food, livelihood, dignity and justice.

We call on the Filipino people to remain vigilant against increasing U.S. intervention– overt and covert– in the country.

 

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