Category: BAYAN USA

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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BAYAN-USA to President Duterte: Stop Arresting the Peace Process!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 31, 2017
Reference: Jessica Antonio, BAYAN-USA Secretary General, secgen@bayanusa.org

BAYAN-USA to President Duterte: Stop Arresting the Peace Process!

“President Duterte’s threat to arrest peace consultants threatens to arrest the peace process itself,” stated BAYAN-USA Chair Bernadette Ellorin, in response to President Duterte’s speech to the Philippine Navy during which he warned that he would “throw [into] the slammer” the consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) who are participating in peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).
“Any action by the Philippine government to detain the NDFP peace consultants would willfully violate the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), a binding agreement signed by both the NDFP and GRP that guarantees all negotiators, consultants and staff of the peace talks to be immune from surveillance, arrest, detention, and other forms of harassment. By arresting NDFP consultants, keeping political prisoners in captivity, and waging its counter-insurgency operations under Oplan Kapayapaan, the GRP has already violated the JASIG repeatedly. Continuing to do so would render JASIG useless and prevent the talks from continuing in earnest,” continued Ellorin.
President Duterte’s comment comes on the heels of the GRP’s decision not to participate in the 5th round of peace talks with the NDFP. During the 5th round, the GRP and NDFP were set to discuss the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), including national industrialization and agrarian development. Such reforms are considered fundamental to addressing the root causes of poverty, landlessness, and injustice which lie at the center of armed conflict in the country. If pursued, such reforms stand to change the domination by the landed ruling elite in the Philippine government over the vast majority of impoverished and landless farmers and rural communities, including indigenous peoples, in the country.
“In the U.S., members of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines just concluded a successful Peace Tour, during which thousands of Americans attended events and actions supporting the call for a just peace in the Philippines and the continuation of the NDFP-GRP peace talks. They also condemned the role of the U.S. in sabotaging the peace talks, through its historic role in occupying, conducting military exercises and operations, and designing counter-insurgency programs in the Philippines,” said Ellorin.
President Duterte’s statements were also made just one week after his declaration of martial law in Mindanao. Since the imposition of martial law, dozens of civilians have been reported wounded and killed, and forced nearly 60,000 people to evacuate Marawi City.
“History shows that without the JASIG, the work of the peace consultants will be paralyzed. History shows that with martial law, violations of human rights and civil liberties will continue with impunity. We urge President Duterte to break away from the militarists and opportunists in his regime such as Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who is drumbeating a pretext for greater militarization, especially U.S. military intervention, just as the US-backed Arroyo administration did in 2002. Duterte should instead side with the people who are demanding the continuation of the peace process and the lifting of martial law,” said Ellorin.
“The people want and deserve a just peace, not militarization and continued impunity. We join the people of Mindanao, the entire Philippines and around the world in calling on the GRP to immediately lift martial law, comply with previously-signed agreements in the peace process, and continue with the peace negotiations. Duterte must end the impunity, not contribute to it, in order to create an environment conducive for the peace process to flourish,” ended Ellorin.
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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

Filipino-Americans to Duterte: Revoke Martial Law in Mindanao!

For Immediate Release

May 23, 2017

Reference: Jessica Antonio, BAYAN-USA, secgen@bayanusa.org

BAYAN-USA, Anakbayan-USA and GABRIELA USA condemn the declaration of martial law by the Duterte administration in Mindanao and call for it to be immediately revoked to ensure the protection of civilian communities from greater militarization and violence.

“The increased militarization and bombings in Marawi City must stop! Martial law will never lead to peace in Mindanao. It will only aggravate the roots of the armed conflict in the region and place thousands of innocent civilians in danger of violent attack,” states Bernadette Ellorin, BAYAN-USA Chairperson.

“With more military operations, women and children will be even more vulnerable to rape, harassment and other sexual abuse,” says Irma Shauf-Bajar, GABRIELA USA Chairperson.

We call on President Rodrigo Duterte to pursue diplomatic and peaceful means to address not only the attacks by the Maute group in Marawi, but also the roots of the armed conflict in Mindanao. This includes implementing urgent social and economic reforms outlined in the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms. Discussion of these reforms is part of the ongoing peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, which include respecting the Moro people’s right to self-determination and respect for ancestral domain.

“The declaration of martial law throughout the island of Mindanao denies the historic right of the Moro people to self-determination, and it puts those who continue to legitimately fight for their right to land and self-determination, including the Moro people and the Lumad, at increased risk of state repression,” states Adrian Bonifacio, Anakbayan-USA Chair.

Crushing Poverty, Landlessness Amidst Natural Wealth

The social unrest and armed conflict in the Bangasamoro region of Mindanao must be placed within the proper socio-economic and historical context. Lanao del Sur, the province where the Maute group operates, has the highest poverty rate in the Philippines, yet remains one of the most resource-rich in the country, a prime attraction for foreign corporations for lucrative investments and large-scale extractive operations.

 A February 2006 leaked cable from Wikileaks revealed the Liguasan Marsh in the Cotabato Basin, spanning 288,000 hectares, and stronghold of several armed Moro groups such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, holds the largest deposits of oil and natural gas in the Philippines and in the region, worth hundred of billions in U.S. dollars.

“The armed conflict in the Bangsamoro territory of Mindanao is essentially rooted in the Moro people’s legitimate struggle for self-determination, including aspirations for genuine sustainable development that would allow for the Moro people’s livelihood off of their own land. It would also mean freedom from over a century of U.S. counterinsurgency (COIN) operations that continue until this day, designed to keep the natural resources of the region under foreign control,” Ellorin continued.

Vigilance Against U.S. Warmongering

“But the U.S.-backed mainstream media and die-hard militarists in the Duterte administration, such as Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, opportunistically distort the narrative into one of so-called Islamic extremism, so-called terrorism, and drumbeat a pretext for greater militarization, especially U.S. military intervention, just as the US-backed Arroyo administration did in 2002. The media’s aggressive highlighting of the involvement of US-CIA trained and armed groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda speaks directly to US warmongering,” Ellorin asserted.

In addition, BAYAN-USA, Anakbayan-USA and GABRIELA USA also call for greater vigilance against increasing U.S. intervention in the region, as the Trump administration recently increased the U.S. defense budget by $59 billion, resulting in $639 billion for US-led war and militarization abroad, and especially in Asia. “The Trump administration’s increase in military spending goes hand in hand with a proposed $9.2 billion cut in the national budget for public education, alongside cuts to other social services. We condemn the diversion of funds that should be spent on the people toward war and militarization in the Philippines and around the world,” continued Bonifacio. Mindanao remains the region in the Philippines with the largest deployments of Philippine military and largest concentration of U.S. military personnel.

GENUINE & SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, NOT MARTIAL LAW, IN MINDANAO!

NO TO US WARMONGERING IN THE PHILIPPINES!

SOLIDARITY WITH THE MORO PEOPLE’S STRUGGLE FOR SELF-DETERMINATION!

 ADVANCE THE GRP-NDFP PEACE TALKS TOWARDS A JUST AND LASTING PEACE!

 

#StandWithMarawi #NeverAgainToMartialLaw #NoToMartialLaw

Duterte: Demilitarize Your Cabinet! Justice for Melissa Roxas & All Victims of State Repression!

Duterte: Demilitarize Your Cabinet!

Justice for Melissa Roxas & All Victims of State Repression!

 

May 19, 2017 marks the eighth anniversary of the abduction and disappearance of Melissa Roxas, a founding member of BAYAN USA, who was abducted on May 19,  and surfaced on May 25, 2009 after international outcry.  

Melissa’s case made headlines as the first case of such a human rights violation committed against a US citizen in the Philippines under President Obama’s term.  As one of the few survivors of abduction by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Melissa courageously went public with her story, seeking justice not only for herself, but for all victims of human rights violations.  Melissa filed her case in the Philippine courts, testified in various venues, and fully cooperated with the investigation undertaken by the Commission on Human Rights.  Eight years after her abduction, we are still fighting for justice for Melissa and all victims of human rights violations in the Philippines.

Unfortunately, recent moves by President Rodrigo Duterte appear to embolden the hard-core militarist faction in his administration which has denied justice for Melissa all these years. President Duterte recently announced that current chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) General Eduardo Año will be appointed to head the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) at the end of his term with the AFP in October. Año is notorious for orchestrating human rights violations as the chief of the AFP, continuously overseeing the rampant extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances such as Melissa’s case, torture, harassment and intimidation of activists and communities fighting for genuine land reform and national industrialization. Año is most known as one of the perpetrators of the abduction of Jonas Burgos a youth activist abducted 10 years ago on April 28, 2007 under the infamous counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya II.

President Duterte and Gen. Año’s dubiously named counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan (Operation Peace) is simply a continuation of all of the previous counter-insurgency programs. Oplan Kapayapaan has already resulted in the extrajudicial killings of dozens of activists, now also being committed under the guise of Duterte’s infamous drug war. From July 2016 to March 2017, at least 47 peasants and indigenous people have been killed in counter-insurgency operations. Año is just one of many former military men Duterte has appointed to key government positions, including former AFP chief Roy Cimatu, who replaces Gina Lopez as Secretary for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and former AFP Major General Delfin Lorenzana as Defense Secretary.

BAYAN USA demands that President Duterte step off the “trapo” path and take seriously the people’s cry for justice by demilitarizing his cabinet and not appointing Gen. Año to the DILG.  We urge him to end Oplan Kapayapaan and to focus on the real path towards peace and genuine development through continuing the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and beginning to implement reforms outlined in the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms.  We also demand an end to the impunity which has reigned in the Philippines since before and after Melissa’s abduction, the thousands of extrajudicial killings, abductions and enforced disappearances, illegal arrests and detention of innocent people, torture, violent displacement, and military occupation of schools and churches.

 

JUSTICE FOR MELISSA!

JUSTICE FOR ALL VICTIMS OF STATE-SPONSORED DISAPPEARANCES AND TORTURE!

 

For more information on the Justice for Melissa campaign visit: JusticeForMelissa.org