BAYAN-USA Condemns US Threat of Airstrikes in the Philippines
Yesterday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with President Duterte announcing continued U.S. military and intelligence support to the Philippines. The Pentagon is considering airstrikes on the people of Marawi, Philippines under the guise of waging the “war on terror” and preventing ISIS militants from establishing the Philippines as a launchpad for the spread of terrorism in Southeast Asia.
Let’s be honest. That’s bullshit.
Their stated intentions are lies. This is not a humanitarian mission to save lives. This is not an attempt to protect people or planet.
In reality, the U.S. is faking the threat of ISIS as a pretext for continued intervention and dominance over the Philippines. The intention is to protect U.S. imperialism’s trusty foothold in the Asia Pacific region, in order to maintain and expand its economic, political and military hegemony.
Like Trump’s plummeting approval ratings, U.S. imperialism’s deception of the people is nosediving. The people are sick of being told to eat the government’s austerity measures in order to feed the the bottomless budget of the war machine. The Trump regime wants a “successful” anti-terrorism mission to save its dying popularity and temporarily stoke narrow-minded patriotism.
Since May 23, aerial bombings by the Philippine military under the guise of fighting ISIS have already reduced Marawi to rubble, killed innocent civilians, driven over 400,000 to flee, and transformed the surrounding areas into refugee camps. President Duterte’s declaration of martial law over the more than 20 million people in the entire island of Mindanao has already increased the human rights violations committed with impunity by state forces. President Duterte’s martial law is coupled with his expanded counter-insurgency program patterned after the U.S. Counterinsurgency Guide of 2009, casting a net on “threats to national security” to include grassroots activists fighting for justice and the New People’s Army waging a legitimate and internationally-recognized national liberation struggle. President Duterte’s acquiescence to U.S. intervention in Marawi has furthered the violation of Philippine sovereignty by U.S. forces and their drones and special operations. A new aerial bombing mission by the U.S. will have disastrous consequences for the Philippines.
President Duterte must listen to the demands of the masses and block the U.S. from bombing our people. He must stand up to Trump’s vile warmongering and oppose the illegal conduct of military operations on Philippine territory. President Duterte has the opportunity to live up to his early statements about breaking U.S. dominance of the Philippines. President Trump will make his first visit to the Philippines this November 10-14 as the 31st ASEAN summit will take place at Clark Field, Pampanga. The Filipino people will never cease our fight to uphold Philippine sovereignty and end U.S. imperialist subjugation of our country and will show up in full force in opposition to the ASEAN summit and U.S. President Trump. Increased U.S. intervention will only stoke the Filipino people’s fire to end 119 years of American domination of our country.
On the heels of the “Solidarity & Fightback: Resisting US-Led War, Militarism and Neofascism Conference” in which over 250 people from 21 countries participated, BAYAN-USA calls on our friends in the growing movement for a just peace to join us in opposing U.S. threats of preemptive strikes on the people of Marawi. We must fight side by side to rise up and resist against our common enemy, U.S. imperialism and its military aggression in all forms, in all places.
NO US AIRSTRIKES ON THE PHILIPPINES!
STOP US INTERVENTION!
PEACE TALKS NOT AIRSTRIKES!
UPHOLD PHILIPPINE SOVEREIGNTY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
On July 24, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte will deliver his second State of the Nation Address. Duterte’s election just over one year ago demonstrated a clear desire of the Filipino people for genuine change in the Philippines and a fundamental departure from previous regimes. Since then, grassroots organizations in the Philippines, BAYAN-USA and filipinos worldwide have raised our most urgent concerns with the President in various venues, including street protests, dialogues with the administration, hosting the People’s Summit, and submitting the People’s Agenda for Change to the President on his inauguration day.
We have voiced our condemnation of the drug war and the militarization of communities. We have raised the need for land reform, an end to labor contractualization, a national minimum wage, pursuing the peace process, the release of all political prisoners, the creation of jobs through national industrialization, an end to US military intervention, the expansion of social services and support for the progressives in the cabinet. President Duterte will deliver his second State of the Nation Address following a year of his tragic and misguided war on drugs, and amid the crisis in Marawi and Martial Law in Mindanao, continuing US intervention, and the worsening economic condition of the people.
After one year, what has really changed?
People’s State of the Nation Address actions will be held around the world, including in the United States, to call attention to the people’s continuing demands and hold Duterte accountable for his unfulfilled promises. We call on President Duterte to step away from the status quo of pro-imperialist, corrupt trapo politics that he has criticized in the past. It’s time to genuinely develop the Philippine economy to enable all of the Filipino people to benefit from our natural wealth and skilled labor force, and so that mothers and fathers don’t have to choose between raising their children or working abroad just to feed them. It’s time to ensure a just and lasting peace by charting an independent foreign policy and building a self-reliant and sovereign Philippines.
Join BAYAN USA and friends at these People’s SONA events across the U.S. For more updates, please visit bayanusa.org :
Los Angeles, CA
Monday, July 24th
5:30pm @ Philippine Consulate
3435 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90010
San Francisco, CA
Monday, July 24
5:30pm @ Union Square
March to the Philippine Consulate
445 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA
New York City, NY
Monday, July 24th
4:30pm @Philippine Consulate
6902 Roosevelt Ave., Woodside, NY 11377
Friday, July 28th hosted by NAFCON & KBKN
6:30pm @Wilshire United Methodist Native American Fellowship
3917 NE Shaver St. Portland, OR 97212
Vigil for Just & Lasting Peace in the Philippines
Friday, July 28th hosted by Gabriela Washington D.C.
St Vincent de Paul Church
14 M St SE, Washington DC 20003
For Immediate Release
June 30, 2017
Contact: Jessica Antonio, BAYAN USA Secretary General, email@example.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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