Filipino Americans Stand Up for Human Rights in the Philippines!

Press Release
December 10th, 2012
Contact: Jessica Antonio, BAYAN USA-Secretary General, secgen@bayanusa.org

Filipino Americans Stand Up for Human Rights in the Philippines!

“On the eve of International Human Rights Day, suspected agents of the Armed Forces of the Philippines killed three more political activists, telling us in no uncertain terms that impunity still reigns under President Aquino,” stated Bernadette Ellorin, chairperson of BAYAN-USA.  

The killing of a farmer and two anti-mining activists adds to the 129 extrajudicial killings already recorded since the implementation of President Aquino’s counter-insurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan, in July 2010. Now in its second year, Oplan Bayanihan removed its “PR-friendly” mask to reveal the brazen terror of increased militarization by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), paramilitary Civilian Auxiliary Forces Geographical Units (CAFGU), Investment Defense Forces, and U.S. soldiers. The Philippines’ most militarized regions were located in communities resisting the impositions of foreign corporations, including large-scale mining corporations which have threatened the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of people through environmental destruction, displacement, and violent repression.

Foreign Corporations, U.S. Military Prioritized Over the Filipino People
In 2012 alone, Oplan Bayanihan claimed 45 lives, most of whom were indigenous peoples who stood firm against large destructive mining corporations encroaching upon their ancestral lands and indigenous rights.  “The price for gold and copper is obviously more valuable to the Philippine government than the lives of its own citizens,” commented Ellorin. “To make matters worse, when typhoons such as Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) bombard the Philippines, the environmental degradation wrought by massive logging and mining operations compounded by an anemic response by the government leads to disastrous consequences in the communities,” stated Ellorin. To date, more than 500 deaths have been reported in Mindanao and many more people remain missing in the wake of Typhoon Pablo.

President Aquino continues to deny these human rights violations, and instead stands beside the AFP and paramilitary hired by foreign corporations to protect their investments in the Philippines.  In a pattern decried by international human rights watchdogs Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Philip Allston, the Philippine government responds to its increasing opposition with violence, while justifying this violence with erroneous claims that these communities were supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines(CPP) or the New Peoples Army(NPA). “Instead of addressing the real needs of the Filipino people for housing, jobs, land, healthcare, and other fundamental needs, the government attempts to silence a society that is made more resistant and militant due to these very problems,” stated Ellorin.

With the U.S. making its military “pivot” towards the Asia Pacific and intensifying its conflict with China, the Philippines has once again becoming home to thousands of U.S. soldiers, re-opening the Clark and Subic bases, and using the Philippine waters as dumping grounds for U.S. naval ships.  The “Balikatan exercises,” side-by-side training between U.S. personnel and the AFP, have resulted in the displacement of thousands of people in the countrysides from their homes due to military take over, or what Oplan Bayanihan calls “community peace and development teams” which are in fact occupying civilian facilities and endangering the public.

GMA and Palparan Remain Free, While Innocent Activists are Jailed?
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has yet to face jail time after her arrest was issued for corruption charges totalling more than 8.8 billion dollars during her presidency.  However, she is guilty of much more than corruption charges and has become internationally known for her crimes against humanity with more than 2,100 political killings and 200 plus enforced disappearances during her presidency.  Her legacy continues under the presidency of Aquino, as the United Nations Human Rights Council earlier this year called attention to the continuing extrajudicial killings, disappearances, and torture under the Aquino regime.

Countries part of the United Nations Human Rights Council called for the prosecution of Jovito “The Butcher” Palparan, former major-general of the AFP who ordered many of the killings of activists and community leaders under Arroyo’s term. However, Palparan remains at-large. While turning a blind eye to these internationally known human rights violators, the Aquino regime attempts to silence the growing criticism from community organizations by filing false criminal charges against their leaders–another recycled tactic from not only the Arroyo years but also from the Marcos playbook. Over 400 political prisoners are languishing in Philippine jails, some of whom have been waiting for years without a full trial. Ironically, the Aquino Administration is following in the footsteps of the corrupt and violent regime it sought to separate itself from during the Presidential elections.

Take A Stand for Human Rights!
Filipinos and Filipino Americans in BAYAN USA stand up for human rights and demand justice for all victims of the Arroyo and Aquino regimes. We will continue our campaign to further investigate and speak out against the corrupt and violent administration who continues to gain international criticism for its lack of addressing human rights violations. Filipinos and people all over the world can join us in standing up for human rights by taking action and learning more about these issues:

1. Online Actions! Change your facebook profile for today! “Stop the Mining! Stop the Killing!” &
Sign the Petition- Justice for the Capion Family Massacre:
http://www.change.org/petitions/justice-for-victims-of-the-tampakan-massacre-cut-u-s-military-aid-to-the-philippines

2. Join Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines(CHRP) or other community organizations that Stand for Human Rights in your area: http://bayanusa.org/

3. Learn about the Human Rights issues in the Philippines through Karapatan’s(Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) 2012 Report:
http://www.karapatan.org/files/2012%20Karapatan%20HR%20report.pdf

JUSTICE FOR THE CAPION FAMILY AND ALL VICTIMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS!
FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!
FIGHT FOR NATIONAL DEMOCRACY & GENUINE INDEPENDENCE FOR THE PHILIPPINES!
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