For Immediate Release
July 7, 2019
Contact: Rhonda Ramiro, email@example.com
BAYAN USA condemns to the utmost extent the speaking tour of the disingenuous Mindanao Indigenous People’s Council of Elders (MIPCEL) that is traveling the US to vilify community groups and progressive organizations that support the indigenous Lumad fight for self-determination. This treacherous tour must be exposed and opposed as an extension of the US-Duterte counterinsurgency efforts to obscure the fascist, dictatorial nature of the US-Duterte regime by blaming the human rights crisis on the people’s movement.
With stops in cities throughout the United States like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington DC, MIPCEL is meeting with organizations and institutions like the United Nations to terrorist-tag alternative Lumad schools and progressive organizations—including BAYAN and member organizations like Anakbayan and Gabriela. The tour unsurprisingly coincides with the vote of the United Nations Human Rights Council to launch an independent investigation into the human rights violations in the Philippines. This smear campaign is a desperate attempt to discredit the mass movement both in the Philippines and the United States at a time when diplomatic isolation of the US-Duterte regime is gaining strength.
MIPCEL, formerly known as the Mindanao Indigenous People’s Conference for Peace and Development (MIPCPD), is a self-proclaimed “umbrella group” of pro-government Lumad that unleashes divide-and-conquer tactics against their own communities. Formed in 2003, the group has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and is tasked to deceive Lumad communities into collaborating with the AFP. MIPCEL serves as a contract negotiator between local tribes and private business, deceiving Lumad into signing away their ancestral domain. They also promote the recruitment of indigenous people into paramilitary groups like the Alamara in Talaingod and the Magahat-Bagani in Caraga. These paramilitary groups are armed and trained by the AFP to terrorize and displace fellow Lumad in order to seize their land and clear the path for foreign corporations and big business. Members of the MIPCEL touring the US are themselves associated with the paramilitary groups committing human rights violations against the Lumad.
Counter to the lies being spread by the MIPCEL tour, the true terrorist plaguing Lumad communities with decades of forcible displacement, illegal occupation, food blockades, murderous rampages and land grabbing as part of US-patterned counterinsurgency operations is the Philippine government. Bastardized calls for “peace” through terrorist-tagging and manipulation by MIPCEL and AFP have only brought bloodshed and terror to Lumad communities. Under Duterte’s administration alone, more than 400,000 indigenous people have been displaced in Mindanao under martial law on top of the rampant human rights violations and extrajudicial killings happening throughout the entire country.
The community groups that MIPCEL was designed to quell are righteously asserting the Lumad right to education, ancestral domain and self-determination. The reactionary MIPCEL tour parallels the many tours that progressive groups have successfully organized to raise awareness on the plight of the Lumad such as the annual Manilakbayans from Mindanao to Malacañang and the Lakbay Lumad in the US in 2016. Around the world, governments and institutions are rising up in solidarity with community leaders and local activists to condemn the US-Duterte regime for its atrocities against the Filipino people and 28 nations have already endorsed a resolution calling on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to investigate the human rights situation in the Philippines.
The surging people’s movement will not be deceived or subdued by these orchestrated attempts to confuse the international community from recognizing the atrocities of the US-Duterte regime. These efforts only prove the righteousness of resistance and amplify the international furor against the Duterte administration. The days of the rotten Philippine state are numbered, and more so are those of Duterte in office. We stand with the Lumad people and all organizations that support their true aspirations for self-determination. We struggle for the unity and liberation of the Lumad people—and the liberation of the entire Philippine nation.
AFP-MIPCEL, GET OUT OF LUMAD COMMUNITIES!
ACTIVISM IS NOT TERRORISM!
END US-BACKED COUNTERINSURGENCY!
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 Immediate Release
June 12, 2019
Contact: Rhonda Ramiro, firstname.lastname@example.org
Today, June 12th, marks the anniversary of the Philippine revolution winning independence from Spain after over 300 years of colonial rule. A historical victory of the Filipino people that should be celebrated, however if we continue down the road of Philippine history it will also mention that this Philippine independence was short lived due to the US engaging in the Philippine-American war immediately after and inserting themselves as the new colonial power. When the US granted nominal independence to the Philippines on July 4, 1946, US colonialism transformed into U.S. imperialism, as the Philippines became a neocolony with puppet regimes doing the bidding to uphold U.S. interests and US military presence to this day. And now, China as a rising superpower has expanded it’s control over the Philippine economy and West Philippine Sea. Therefore, we raise the question, is the Philippines truly free and independent from foreign intervention?
The Philippines continues to be an export-oriented, import-dependent nation with a backwards economy largely dominated by foreign multi-national corporations and their lap dogs, namely the ruling elite and big business owners benefiting from the unequal trade agreements. Last November, Duterte signed 29 agreements with Chinese President Xi Jinping to secure funding for his “Build Build Build” program and plunge the Philippine economy into an even deeper debt trap. The flooding of Chinese investments and loans with strings attached have been met with protest due to the landgrabbing of mineral rich areas, the impact on indigenous people’s ancestral land, lopsided trade agreements, and Duterte silence on China’s aggressive occupation of the West Philippine Sea. This year alone, there have been at least 600 Chinese ships (mainly navy, coast guard or naval militia) surrounding the Pagasa island and multiple cases of harassment of fisherfolk communities such as the 22 Filipino fishermen left at sea after a “hit and run” incident with a Chinese vessel.
Despite Duterte claiming to promote independent foreign policy, the Duterte regime has only continued unequal military policies and counter-insurgency programs such as Oplan Kapayapaan and Operation Pacific Eagle, that force the Philippines into a subservient position ultimately turning the entire nation into a US military base. We demand an end to US military and police aid to the Philippines that amounted to $184.5 million in US tax dollars in 2018, as well as lop-sided agreements that protect US military interests such as the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
We call on the Filipino people and solidarity allies across the United States to unite to hold mass actions on July 22nd, People’s State of the Nation Address in major cities and join the Washington D.C. National Day of Action, to amplify the call to oust Duterte for his subservience to foreign interests and continue the fight for genuine sovereignty in the face of imperialist powers such as the US and China. We stand committed to the fight for a just and lasting peace in the Philippines which includes our demand for a pro-Filipino and independent foreign policy that protects the natural wealth of our motherland for the benefit of the majority of Filipino people.
Who is Melissa?
Melissa Roxas was born in Manila, Philippines. In 1986, the same year after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship, Melissa was nine years old and migrated along with two siblings to Los Angeles to be reunited with her mother. After graduating from high school in 1996, Melissa’s interest in community work, particularly in health care, manifested when she was a student at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). She had the intention of one day going to medical school. Melissa worked as a community health youth organizer with Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA), in Los Angeles, where she facilitated workshops on tobacco prevention, and promoted health and well-being. A gifted writer, Roxas’ body of poetry and creative writing earned her such accolades as a fellowship with PEN USA Rosenthal Emerging Voices and a fellowship with Kundiman for two consecutive years. Melissa also co-founded Habi Ng Kalinangan, or Habi Arts, a Los Angeles-based Filipino cultural organization dedicated to promoting community empowerment and progressive social change.
Today marks the 10 year anniversary of the abduction and disappearance of Melissa Roxas, a Filipina American, health worker, poet, and human rights activist. Melissa was participating in a medical mission in Tarlac, Philippines on May 19, 2009 when she was abducted and tortured for six days in a military camp by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Massive public outcry from the Philippines, United States, and across the world led to her release on May 25, 2009. Since then she has filed her case with the Department of Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court, Commission on Human Rights, filed complaints with the US State Department and United Nations, testified at the 2015 International People’s Tribunal and spoken out on major media outlets demanding justice for her and all victims of state-sponsored violence in the Philippines.
Activism is Not a Crime
Under then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the AFP ramped up its counter-insurgency program called Oplan Bantay Laya I & II, a program in which the US provided millions of US tax dollars to give funding, training, and direction to the AFP in an attempt to eliminate the ongoing revolutionary struggle in the Philippines. The Philippine military is one of the largest US military aid recipients for counterinsurgency, but this counterinsurgency program only led to a crackdown on activists like Melissa Roxas who were doing humanitarian work with the most impoverished communities. According to human rights group Karapatan, there were 1,206 extrajudicial killings and 204 enforced disappearances under Arroyo’s presidency. Since 2009, President Arroyo has not been held accountable for Melissa’s ordeal or other human rights violations on her bloody track record; instead, President Duterte has even gone so far as to dismiss corruption cases against Arroyo and promote her as House Speaker.
The US-Duterte Regime
Ten years later under President Rodrigo Duterte, the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ power and influence has only expanded with most of Duterte’s cabinet filled with AFP military officials. Despite the numerous cases and clear evidence of the AFP carrying out brutal harassment, illegal arrests, torture, extrajudicial killings, and violence against women, children, and indigenous people, Duterte continues to direct and support the AFP’s dirty work by promoting officials and increasing their salaries. While the number of human rights violations under Duterte continue to soar beyond 29,000, we see little hope for true justice for Melissa and other human rights victims especially under this violent fascist administration.
The only way we can see true justice for Melissa and victims of state-sponsored violence is to get rid of the rotting semi-colonial and semi-feudal system that emboldens human rights violators such as Arroyo, Duterte, and the AFP. We demand justice for Melissa and an end to the culture of impunity and state-sponsored violence. The victims, survivors, and their families of the ‘desaparecidos,’ or disappeared, long for genuine change, justice, and healing. Only through revolutionary struggle and people power can we achieve lasting change in the Philippines and hold perpetrators of state violence accountable.
Justice for Melissa Roxas! Activism is Not a Crime!
Justice for All Victims of State-Sponsored Violence in the Philippines!
Cut All US Military and Police aid to the Philippines!
Learn more about Melissa: justiceformelissa.org
JOIN THE SOCIAL MEDIA WEEK OF ACTION
#10YearsNoJustice #Justice4Melissa #ActivismIsNotACrime
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