Author: National EC

On Heels of Massive Action for Victims of Kidapawan Massacre, Bay Area Residents will Join 24 Hour Fast Tonight at 6pm

For Immediate Release


April 7, 2016

Contact: Katie Joaquin, ICHRP-Norcal, 510-388-0025,


On Heels of Massive Action for Victims of Kidapawan Massacre, Bay Area Residents will Join 24 Hour Fast Tonight at 6pm



San Francisco, CA – Roughly 200 Filipino advocates, community organizations and faith groups protested outside the Philippine Consulate on April 5, demanding justice and accountability for the Philippine government’s violent dispersal of thousands of farmers that occurred in Kidapawan, Philippines on April 1 that led to the deaths of 2 farmers, 116 injured, and 78 detained. A  delegation of community members went inside to speak with Consul General Henry Bensurto, while over a dozen representatives of faith-based, women, youth, LGBT, and migrant worker organizations participated in civil disobedience in the lobby of the consulate.

“This action is a culmination after several sit down meetings with various representatives of the Philippine Consulate about the human rights situation in the Philippines, with no clear action from the officials,” says Terry Valen of the National Alliance for Philippine Concerns (NAFCON). “The Consulate officials mirror the Philippine government’s response by not doing anything to help the starving Filipino people asking for food aid and especially not addressing the genuine needs of the people,” continued Valen.


Reverend Jeannelle Ablola, Co-Chair of the United Methodist Church Cal-Nevada Philippine Solidarity Task Force, joined the delegation that spoke with Consul General Henry Bensurto. “This culture of impunity must end. Every day the people go without justice and without their basic rights is a sin committed by those in government who have been entrusted to serve the people,” said Reverend Ablola.  “Inaction or long delays in the process of giving relief is unacceptable and prolongs the suffering of the poor and marginalized with whom Jesus chose to so clearly and compassionately stand for and with.”

“We are enraged by the dire situation faced by the farmers, and the blatant disregard by the Aquino administration and other members of the Liberal Party,” said Princess Bustos of Migrante Partylist-USA. “Governor Lala Mendoza shows that the Liberal Party truly has no concern for the lives of their constituents and other Filipinos when more than 5,000 farmers and their families are literally starving for months with no support from the government.”

Upon learning of the Kidapawan massacre, Bay Area Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike took swift action to activate the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines – Northern California (ICHRP-NorCal) and organize the rally, civil disobedience, and delegation that met with consulate officials.  “Access to food is the most fundamental human right. Farmers and their families suffered with hunger for extended months without government action. Their demands are just, and their protest to call attention to their situation is legitimate. We want them to know that they are not alone in their fight, and that members of the international community support them,” said Marienne Cuison, a volunteer with ICHRP-Norcal.

For more on the action and the Kidapawan massacre: follow #RiceNotBullets or join the ICHRP-NorCal Facebook page.  More photos, video, or interviews available upon request.

ICHRP-Norcal is launching a 24 hour fast in solidarity with the farmers in Cotabato and the victims of the Kidapawan Massacre on April 7 at 6pm. This effort is in coordination with a Global Day of Action for Food and Justice on April 8th, 2016. For more information please visit: Solidarity Fast with Victims of Kidapawan Massacre.



Rice Not Bullets! Filipino Community and Allies Protest Massacre of Drought-Stricken Mindanao Farmers at the Philippine Consulate

Rice Not Bullets! Filipino Community and Allies Protest Massacre of Drought-Stricken Mindanao Farmers at the Philippine Consulate

BAYAN NE and allies in front of the Philippine Consulate (PC: Roman Damaso)

NEW YORK – Yesterday, almost one hundred Filipinos and allies gathered at the Philippine consulate to condemn the massacre of drought-stricken farmers and indigenous Lumads by the Philippine National Police in Kidapawan City, Mindanao. Called for by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) USA Northeast, the protest carried through despite the rain and police barricades, joining the international outcry against state repression and violence towards the Kidapawan farmers. From Los Angeles toHong Kong, Filipinos are joining together in outrage, demanding that justice be served for the farmers and that the Aquino administration be held immediately accountable.

The massacre in Kidapawan began when 6,000 farmers blockaded a national highway in the southern Philippine province of Cotabato. They were protesting for the release of 15,000 bags of rice as part of calamity funds to support their families in the face of severe El Niño-induced drought. Mindanao farmers lost almost 70% to 100% of their food crops, resulting in thousands of households starving and without livelihood, many forced to eat their own feed. The protest escalated on April 1st when Philippine National Police indiscriminately opened fire at the human blockade, leaving 6 dead and 116 injured. Those killed were already on their knees when they were shot by the police and many were beaten with batons and water cannons. Now, thousands of farmers are seeking refuge in the Kidapawan Methodist Church, which is currently under threat of getting their business permit revoked by the municipal government for “harboring the leaders and members of illegal demonstrators.”

This massacre is not the first time that Philippine farmers and indigenous peoples have faced repression from their own government when they organized and protested for their rights. Both Aquino administrations have been responsible for numerous incidents of state-inflicted violence and terror towards peasants, with a track record of the Mendiola massacre, Hacienda Luisita massacre (which was owned by the Cojuangco-Aquino family), Mamasapano massacre, Lianga massacre, and now the Kidapawan massacre. Recognizing this, protesters at yesterday’s rally held bloodied rice bags as props, decrying President Aquino as the massacre king. They chanted “Bigas hindi bala! Bugas dili bala! Rice not bullets!” calling on the Philippine government to be accountable to its people by providing food and relief, not killing or terrorizing the people who are already being deprived of their basic human right to food and livelihood.

The Kidapawan massacre also comes at a time in which the island of Mindanao faces intensifying militarization and human rights abuses. More than 6,000 indigenous Lumads have been forcibly displaced by military forces, leaving them without access to their land and livelihood. More than 60% of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is deployed to the one island of Mindanao, acting as “Investment Defense Forces” to secure land for local and foreign corporations that seek to extract the island’s trillion dollars worth of minerals and natural resources. “While we condemn the grave human rights violations of the Philippine government and its military and police forces, we must recognize how foreign imperialist interference plays a direct role in this violence against the people in the countryside of Mindanao,” said Theresa Endoso, member of Anakbayan New York, who stayed with indigenous Lumad communities for four months and saw first hand the plight of peasant and indigenous farmers. “Had it not been for the World Bank funded Public-Private Partnership Program (PPP) which is rapidly privatizing irrigation systems across the Philippines, the farmers in Cotabato may not have been as severely affected by the drought. These farmers are indentured to a semi-feudal land system, exploited by neoliberal markets when they are growing crops, and when they are unable to grow crops, they are still not fed even by calamity funds.”

BAYAN USA Northeast calls on the international community, especially Filipinos living abroad, to condemn the Kidapawan massacre and ongoing state repression of communities and activists, and support the struggle for a truly just and peaceful society. “The vast majority of Filipinos overseas left the country in search of livelihood. We still cannot find jobs in our own country and so we leave to ensure our families can eat. In essence, the diaspora is a result of the same conditions of poverty, hunger, and landlessness that drives farmers and Lumads into misery,” said Berna Ellorin, chairperson of BAYAN USA. “We are with the farmers and Lumads standing for their right to food, land, and livelihood. As overseas Filipinos, our dollar remittances keep the Philippine economy afloat. This economic power must also translate to political power. We have a responsibility to act in favor of an alternative system that is sustainable and puts people’s needs over profits.”

The Northeast region of BAYAN USA will join the call for a Global Day of Action on the Kidapawan Massacre on April 8th. Submissions of solidarity statements are encouraged from allied organizations to strengthen the international call for justice and accountability for the victims of the Kidapawan massacre. There will also be a human rights forum on May 21st in New York as part of Lakbay Lumad USA, a speaking tour with indigenous Lumad activists who are traveling throughout the United States to advocate against the ongoing militarization of Mindanao and to educate on ways to get involved and contribute to their fight for genuine peace with justice.


Originally posted on BAYAN USA Northeast page


IMG_0231Protesters condemn President Noynoy Aquino as massacre king (PC: Roman Damaso)

IMG_0238Bloodied rice bags bear the calls “Bigas Hindi Bala!” or “Rice Not Bullets!” (PC: Roman Damaso)

END the Philippine Government’s Fascist Attacks on Farmers and Rural Activists NOW!

END the Philippine Government’s Fascist Attacks on

Farmers and Rural Activists NOW!

Justice for the Victims of the Kidapawan Massacre

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On the morning of April 1, 2016 more than 5,000 farmers and community members staged a protest in Cotabato, Mindanao demanding immediate relief and aid from the Philippine government due to the severe drought in the region when combined forces of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) opened fire into the crowd including children, killing at least three and injuring more than 30 people.

“This speaks to the core to what is absolutely rotten in Philippine society– the domination of corrupt landlords over the government and the landlessness of the majority of the Filipino people. The farmers and protesters were simply demanding food aid and relief from the government, and what they got in return was violence. The Aquino government is guilty of these crimes against humanity, and justice has yet to be served for the more than 300 extrajudicial killings under his term,” stated Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson of BAYAN USA. “The attacks on farmers and indigenous communities have become part of Aquino’s legacy, continuing in the same vein as the Mendiola and Hacienda Luisita massacres.”

The Philippines is one of the top producers of rice and yet cannot feed its own people. Instead, most of the rice produced in the Philippines is exported out of the country. The priority of the Philippine government is on cash crops like pineapple, rubber and sugar, while more than 23 million Filipinos live in extreme poverty. With the neoliberal policies of the government opening the Philippine’s natural resources to be extracted by foreign corporations, there has been an increase in violence upon indigenous communities, especially against the Lumad indigenous groups in Mindanao because their ancestral land is literally filled with gold, metals, and minerals.

“The Philippine government’s military and local police along with armed paramilitary groups have illegally occupied schools, murdered school and community leaders, opened fire at children in these schools and now violently dispersed peaceful protesters with impunity,” Ellorin continued. “With the National Philippine Elections approaching, we all can see that the current government has never had any backbone in its claims of ‘Daang Matuwid,’ and the same old games of corruption and violence will only continue if the Aquino-supported clique is elected. The withholding of calamity aid and food relief for the starving farmers is linked to the Aquino government’s electoral corruption, wherein public funds for calamities are instead pocketed by government bureaucrats. We need genuine change in our economic and political system, one that is people-centered and focused on developing Philippine national industries and agrarian reform in order to build a self-sustaining country that can feed and support its people.”

BAYAN USA calls upon all people who stand for human rights and self-determination to take a stand against the Philippine government’s violence upon the farmers and indigenous communities!


Take Action NOW to Demand Accountability for Police and Military Violence Against Farmers and Indigenous People Protesting the Government’s Withholding of Food Aid!

  • PROTEST: At the Philippine Embassy or local Philippine Consulates
  • CALL: the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC to protest the violent dispersal and killing of peaceful protesters, demand accountability, and demand the immediate release of food aid to farmers. Call, Office of the Philippine Ambassador to the U.S., Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., Tel: 202.467.9366
  • WRITE: President Aquino to register your condemnation of the violence of state forces against farmers and indigenous people.  Cc members of the U.S. Congress Appropriations Committee.
  • EDUCATE: Conduct activities to educate the community about this issue and to urge them to take action
  • HOST: a delegation of Lumad indigenous people from Mindanao is coming to the U.S. from April – May. Host a speaking engagement for them to educate more members of your community about the issues of indigenous people. Contact for more information.





An Open Letter to Leonardo DiCaprio Regarding the Fight of the Lumad, the Indigenous Peoples of Mindanao in the Southern Philippines

Learn from the Lumad, Leo!


March 7th, 2016

Dear Mr. DiCaprio,

Congratulations on your achievements and recognition by being awarded the Oscar for Best Actor 2016 for your role in the film The Revenant. Thank you for taking those few minutes awardees are provided to place the spotlight not on yourself, but to what you called “the most urgent threat facing our species”: climate change, a very real and present situation that has been exacerbated by globalization and capitalist interest in the exploitation of people, all living beings and our planet Earth for profit only to be reaped by the few.  

You were also awarded Best Actor for the same film at the Golden Globes 2016, at which you made a statement speaking to the indigenous communities: “It is time that we recognized your history and that we protect your indigenous lands from corporate interests and people that are out there to exploit them. It is time that we heard your voice and protect this planet for future generations.” Your words are heard globally because of your status in American society; can you imagine the ripples of impact you can have if you also pair your bold words with even bolder action? To cross over the barriers of advocacy and be part of the action you are calling for when you said, “we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating”?

The ruthless murder of celebrated Honduran environmentalist and indigenous leader Berta Caceres in her home on March 3 is a harsh wake up call for the world– indigenous lives and all those who fight to protect the earth from corporate takeover are snuffed out.

As Filipino community organizers in the US, we are connected to the indigenous struggles in our homeland, the Philippines. The Philippines is the 5th most mineral-rich country in the world, the mining capital of Asia, and one of the most dangerous countries for environmentalists and anti-landgrabbing activists, most of whom are indigenous, in the region. Militarization and violent state repression has forced more than 63,824 people to evacuate their homes. In one incident alone more than 3,000 Lumad were forced to evacuate due to the military occupation of their community and schools. The Lumad consist of 18 ethnolinguistic tribes indigenous to and situated in the hinterlands of Mindanao in the southern Philippines. The looming Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement bodes even more violence and displacement, as multi-national corporations position themselves to take over the Lumad’s resource-rich lands for the profit of big mining, logging and agricultural businesses. The Lumad communities established their own award-winning alternative schools because there were none provided by the government. One of the best things about these schools is that they are centered on the cultural practices of the Lumad tied to the land and teach the students and communities that they have the right to protect and fight for their lands. At the end of last year, the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), was attacked by paramilitary groups supported by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. They murdered the school’s executive director, Emerito Samcara, and two other prominent Lumad leaders.  And in a span of just 30 days from January-February this year, six more Lumad leaders and a 15-year old student were killed by paramilitary henchmen. The displaced Lumad have also been harassed at their evacuation camps, including the most recent arson fire on February 24, 2016.

You asked to hear the voices of indigenous people, and the Lumad are giving you the opportunity to hear directly from them when they travel here to the U.S. this spring. We invite you to meet them, to learn from them, and to be inspired by their courageous action to defend their life and their land. We ask you to hear their voices, to follow Marlon Brando’s footsteps and provide a global platform for the Lumad in order for them to speak for themselves about the issues they face. The US military aid to the Philippines has just been increased from $40 million to $66 million this year despite the numerous UN-documented human rights violations and impunity of the Philippine government and the paramilitary units under its control. We dread that the actions of the U.S. government will only aggravate the current militarization in the Philippines especially among the Lumad, and we need you and others to stand with the Lumad against increasing militarization and for their resistance and self-determination.

We invite you to meet with the Lumad leaders who will be in the US this April thru May, in this time of great peril for indigenous people who need your solidarity.


Bernadette Ellorin