Category: Peace Talks

Free All Political Prisoners! End Impunity in the Philippines!

For Immediate Release
December 10, 2016
Reference: Jessica Antonio, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, secgen@bayanusa.org

On International Human Rights Day, BAYAN USA joins the millions of people across the globe in fighting for human rights! We must always remember that in the midst of great political darkness in the United States and in the Philippines, it is the power of the people who stand up against the tyranny and injustice that holds the light directed towards genuine change. We must speak out for those who can no longer speak, because their voices were taken from them by state forces, or their civil rights snatched away from them because they stand behind bars.

Philippine State Impunity Continues
President Duterte is beginning to show his true colors as his actions speak much louder than words. President Duterte continues to deny the freedom of the more than 400 political prisoners, even when he has stated numerous times that he will free them. The Armed Forces of the Philippines continue to harass, detain, occupy schools, and violently disperse protests when he once welcomed activists into Malacanang. And the number of killings related to his “War on Drugs” continues to grow with impunity. The secret burial of former Dictator Ferdinand Marcos was an added slap in the face to the Filipino people.

Duterte won his Presidency by winning over the populace as a different type of politician. BAYAN USA supported the appointment of known progressives into his cabinet and had hope in his administration with the immediate resumption of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). However, the mounting human rights violations under Duterte’s watch must be stopped. President Duterte has the responsibility to serve the people of the Philippines. He must listen to the people and carry out their will, not “serve the interests of any one person or any group or any one class” as he mentioned in his inauguration speech. Not the Marcos’, or big business, or military interests, or US influence.

Free All Political Prisoners Now!

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Over 150 political prisoners in the Philippines began a hunger strike on International Solidarity with Political Prisoners Day on Dec. 3rd and ended on the 8th day to press President Duterte to free all political prisoners and to shed more light on their stories and fight for freedom! He had promised to release the elderly and sick; however it was too late for Bernabe Ocasla, who died of cardiac arrest on November 28th. The continued detention of the political prisoners makes the Philippines government in violation of the agreements signed during peace negotiations with the NDFP, since both parties had committed to the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL).

Join BAYAN USA events across the nation to stand up for human rights and to promote genuine just and lasting peace in the Philippines! Sign the online Petition! We are also collecting letters of support to political prisoners, please see the template and directions on our BAYAN USA FB page.

HUMAN RIGHTS AND JUSTICE FOR ALL!

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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.

Advance the GRP-NDFP Peace Talks! Address the Roots of the Armed Conflict! Struggle for a Just & Lasting Peace!

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Bayan USA calls on all Filipinos and concerned friends worldwide to support the formal peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), which is set to begin its second round today, Thursday, October 6 in Oslo, Norway. Though Western media likes to shine a spotlight on President Duterte, it purposely does not cover the advancement of the peace negotiations, a major move towards resolving the root issues of the longest-running revolutionary armed conflict in Asia.

After 18 years of stalling and attempts to sabotage the peace process by the US-backed regimes of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III, President Rodrigo Duterte formally resumed the peace negotiations last August. As Mayor of Davao City, he had already recognized the belligerency of the Peoples Democratic Government established by the revolutionary forces of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army, and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP), and now as President is continuing these relations through the peace talks.

The second round of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations will tackle social and economic reforms, getting to the root causes of the 47-year old armed conflict in the country— poverty, landlessness, and joblessness. First introducing its proposals for substantive reforms in 1998, the NDFP has already produced its updated draft of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), which offers concrete proposals for policies and mechanisms to carry out sustainable land reform and national industrialization. Such fundamental reforms are the keys to ensuring a Philippine economy that is able to provide jobs and livelihood for the Filipino people, the vast majority of whom are landless tillers and farmers mired in abject poverty and hardship in a country known for its vast forests and marine, agricultural and mineral wealth. Gathering lessons from the peace accord between the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) which was recently rejected by a national referendum, the proposals contained in the CASER were crafted in consultation with the masses of workers, peasants, indigenous people, and other marginalized sectors of Philippine society.

The Need for Genuine Sovereignty

Despite all the natural wealth, the Philippine economy remains backwards, pre-industrial and stunted from upward development due to its subservience to foreign economic and political dictates, corporate investments and lack of genuine sovereignty. In order for genuine land reform and national industrialization to be possible, the Philippine government must assert national sovereignty and the right of the Filipino people to chart our own direction in economic, political, and military matters. It is in this respect that BAYAN USA stands with President Duterte’s pronouncements of sovereignty and pursuing an independent foreign policy. If realized, genuine sovereignty and an independent foreign policy will lay the foundation for the development of the country, and alleviation of the Filipino people’s suffering from chronic crisis. It could reverse the anguish of the over 6,000 Filipinos forced to leave the country daily to work abroad as the only means to survive and provide for their families.

Stay Vigilant Against Destabilization and Derailment

US imperialism’s geopolitical interests in the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific region require continuing the status quo of traditional Philippine politics that forego sovereignty and uphold US corporate dictates. At present, the US government is intent on discrediting and unseating the Duterte administration, even using the backing of human rights watchdogs and the Western media to build a popular narrative against Duterte, as the latter continues to stand up vocally against US domination over the Philippines.

While we also condemn the alarming number of drug-related extra-judicial killings of alleged drug pushers under Duterte’s drug war, the human rights situation as the sole focus of the Western media and its non-coverage of the GRP-NDFP peace talks indicate media bias as a tool for destabilization and derailment of the peace process.

As the Obama and next US administration grapples with how to get rid of Duterte, it must also come to terms with US imperialism’s inability to crush the Filipino people’s revolutionary movement for national liberation, as represented by the NDFP during these peace talks.

In these crucial times, let us turn our attention to what the media is not covering about the Philippines– the 47 year old revolutionary movement for national liberation. To stand for a just and lasting peace in the Philippines is to stand for the advancement of the peace process, and more importantly with the continuing Filipino people’s struggle for revolutionary change. In the end it is the Filipino people, united in collective action and struggle, who will usher in peace and development, regardless of who is president.

UPHOLD PHILIPPINE SOVEREIGNTY!
LAND REFORM NOW!
NATIONAL INDUSTRIALIZATION NOW!
ADVANCE THE PEACE PROCESS!

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Human Rights Groups Urge Duterte to Denounce Marcos’ Crimes and Push Forward Peace Talks

For Immediate Release

September 21, 2016

Contact: Nikole Cababa, Deputy Secretary General, BAYAN USA, sc@bayanusa.org

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Photo Caption (Above):: Nap Pempeña of Anakbayan USA honors the martyrs and victims of Martial Law and calls on youth to continue the fight for a just and lasting peace in  the Philippines.

LOS ANGELES, CA – On September 21, Filipino American human rights advocates and American supporters rallied in front of the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles to mark the 44th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law by former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and called on the Duterte administration to denounce the crimes of the Marcos’ dictatorship.

Led by BAYAN USA and the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) Southern California Network, the participants called for justice for victims of the Marcos dictatorship and condemn the continuing human rights violations in the Philippines.

“Extrajudicial killings and arrests were an abominable hallmark of Marcos’ 21 year rule, which was propped up by the U.S. government,” Nikole Cababa, Deputy Secretary General of Bayan USA. “In order to set himself apart from all previous puppet presidents, Duterte should immediately put a stop to all extrajudicial killings in the country and end the illegal arrests of activists under the Philippine military’s U.S.-directed counterinsurgency plan Oplan Bayanihan.”

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Photo Caption (Left): Nikole Cababa, Deputy Secretary General of BAYAN USA addresses the crowd to share the history of Martial Law under the Marcos administration.

The groups strongly oppose the burial of Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery). “We resist the erasure of our people’s history. When we bury a convicted plunderer who was dishonorably dismissed by its own people and by its own military, what message does it send to the youth and to the people? It means that the most corrupt and despotic tyrants in our country can be hailed as heroes; that the burial of Marcos in the National Heroes’ Cemetery signals the burial of justice for the victims of Martial Law.” said Nap Pempeña, Vice Chairperson of the nationwide youth group Anakbayan-USA.

The groups also pressed for the Duterte administration to continue making progress in the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). “Duterte can make unprecedented and lasting changes that will benefit the Filipino people for generations to come if he continues to sincerely pursue peace negotiations with the NDFP,” said Joy Prim of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines Southern California Network.

14344304_1149668318432416_4424647141232541544_nPhoto Caption (Right):  Pastor Ruth of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and member of the National Ecumenical Forum for Filipino Concerns (NEFFCON) Southern California highlights the poor who suffered under martial law.

“He must follow through on the GRP’s commitment during the recent Oslo peace talks to declare amnesty and release the 525 political prisoners that remain unjustly detained in prisons across the country. While we support Duterte in the process of the peace talks, we continue to be alarmed by the human rights situation in the country, the killings, and the further arrests of political prisoners without any cause.” Since August, five peasant leaders have been assassinated and more activists have been arrested despite the existence of unilateral ceasefires in the country’s 47 year civil war.

Cababa added, “For the peace talks to succeed, Duterte must follow through on his recent statements asserting an independent foreign policy not dominated by U.S. interests. His words must be proven in action by terminating all unequal military and economic agreements with the United States, such as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). Only then will the Philippines be free to enact social and economic reforms that can create liveable jobs for Filipinos through land reform and building national industries.”
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Photo Caption (Above): Janelle Viray of Gabriela Los Angeles highlights the stories of Filipina women brutally raped, tortured, and murdered during the Marcos’ Martial Law era.

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Photo Caption (Above): Local artists Menchie Caliboso of Habi Arts and Hiyasmin Saturay of Migrante Southern California perform “Bayan Ko” in honor of the victims and martyrs of martial law.

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Photo Caption (Above):  Lealani Manuta of Anakbayan Long Beach joined the protest to urge President Duterte to keep his commitment to advancing the peace talks in the Philippines by granting general amnesty to all political prisoners in the Philippines.

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Photo Caption (Above): BAYAN USA Southern California, International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, National Ecumenical Forum for Filipino Concerns (NEFFCON) hold a rally in front of the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles, CA.

 

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BAYAN USA featured on LOUD & CLEAR Radio: Peace Talks Resume in the Philippines: Will it be Different this time?

Talks began in the Philippines this week, between the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, and communist rebels who have been struggling against the government for almost 50 years.

Click here for original post on Loud & Clear.

Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear spoke with Bernadette Ellorin, chairperson of BAYAN-USA, about the complicated history of peace talks in Manila and the potential for this round of talks to end successfully.

​Ellorin offered that the National Democratic movement in the Philippines is “very optimistic that the peace process is pushing forward, and we are of course grateful that the political prisoners, some of which have already been released, will participate in peace talks as consultants. It’s a very hopeful time, but a lot needs to be proven in practice, the Filipino government has a lot to prove, in regards to the past agreement from the peace talks, and marching forward sincerely with the peace process”

Loud & Clear host Brian Becker asked, “What’s the history of the peace talks between both sides? What happened to the peace talks in the past? What reasons contributed to the war continuing?”

“The preliminary peace talks began between the two parties; the government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, back in the late 1980s,” she said, “after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship. Those talks failed after the Mendiola massacre, where the military was ordered to open fire on peasants who were protesting for land reform in the gates of the palace back in the late 90s.”

She added that the Filipino government’s participation in the US War on Terror, and the labeling of the New People’s Army as a terrorist group, also contributed to the deterioration of talks. She said this categorization is counter to the experience Filipino’s have with the NPA.

“… from the point of view of the most impoverished Filipinos in the rural areas and especially the countryside, the New People’s Army is not just an army, it is also a social service organization.”

Ellorin described the NPA’s relationship with poor Filipinos saying, “In the areas of the Philippines where the government doesn’t provide services, the New People’s Army is there to provide those services.” She added, “They are there as medics, they are there as teachers…they are also cultural workers. In many cases when you go to the far flung regions where the New People’s Army is present, the people celebrate them, they don’t see them as terrorist forces whatsoever. And the reason why they’re able to see them that way is because the people are suffering an intense socio-economic crisis.”

Becker asked if the Philippines should expect interference from the US in their peace talks.

“Absolutely,” she asserted. “The mere fact that the US renewed its terrorist listing of the CPP and the NPA is a measure of their attempts to frustrate the peace process. And it must be known that the Philippines is still a US neo-colony and a bastion of US foreign policy in the region. So the US has every interest to sustain its position as the neocolonial master. And the peace process, as manifested by the peace negotiations, is a threat to that.”