Justice for the Victims of Davao Bombing: No to Increasing U.S. and AFP Militarization in Mindanao

Justice for the Victims of Davao Bombing:

No to Increasing U.S. and AFP Militarization in Mindanao

BAYAN-USA condemns the fatal bombing that took place September 2nd in Davao City, killing 14 people and injuring more than 60 people at the night market. We send our condolences to the families of the victims. We demand justice for the people of Davao. There is no justification for the deliberate targeting of innocent civilians with violence to sow fear.

We also express alarm at the possibility that the general rights of the people will be trampled in the wake of this tragedy. As a response to this attack, President Duterte declared a “state of lawless violence” which increases military and police presence with the stated intent to combat terrorist threats not only in Davao, but throughout the country, including the campaign against illegal drugs. We join the people in demanding that the parameters of this declaration be clearly defined and not allowed to violate civil rights and liberties.

We also condemn any attempts by the Obama administration to destabilize and increase its military intervention the Philippines under the so-called auspices of anti-terrorism. The U.S. government has a long history of destabilization operations in Mindanao, including but not limited to covert CIA operations, drone surveillance, and bomb planting. In 2002, a CIA agent by the name of Michael Meiring accidentally blew up his legs while creating a bomb in his hotel room in Davao City. It must be also noted that the group that claimed responsibility for the September 2 bombing– Abu Sayyaf– was trained and funded by the CIA and has been conveniently used as a bogey to justify militarization in Mindanao and around the country for years. The Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom operations in Basilan in 2001 became the rallying call for the Bush administration to declare the Philippines the “Second Front to the Global War on Terror,” allowing for the massive deployment of U.S. special operations forces and other military personnel for counter-terrorism operations in 2002.

The U.S. government is a master crafter of destabilization and counterinsurgency, including under the guise of “humanitarianism,” “disaster relief” and “foreign aid,” in regions where it holds key geopolitical interests. We oppose increasing military operations, stationing of personnel, occupying bases and drone exercises in the Philippines. The U.S. War on Terror in Mindanao in 2001 and signing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement in 2014 did not prevent this heinous attack; increased collaboration with the U.S. military and intelligence apparatuses will mean future attacks. The only security these operations and agreements have provided have been to safeguard the interests of U.S. and foreign corporations for access to Mindanao’s great deposits and reserves of oil, gold, nickel, bauxite and many other natural resources.

President Duterte, as Mayor of Davao City for 22 years, understands the hand of U.S. intervention in sowing conflict and crisis for the people of Mindanao. As he meets with President Obama this September 6, we call on Duterte to not cave into to pressure for more U.S. aid to the Philippines but to stand for national sovereignty, including swift investigation of the bombing by Philippine authorities and holding those responsible accountable.

Rallyists display placards condemning the bombing at a market in Davao city during a candlelight protest in front of the Catholic church in Quiapo city, metro Manila. Photo: Reuters

Rallyists display placards condemning the bombing at a market in Davao city during a candlelight protest in front of the Catholic church in Quiapo city, metro Manila. Photo: Reuters

Photo: Bullit Marquez ~ Associated Press

Photo: Bullit Marquez ~ Associated Press

Listen to BAYAN USA Vice Chair Rhonda Ramiro on KPFA’s Flashpoints



94.1 KPFA’s radio program Flashpoints interviewed BAYAN USA’s Vice Chair Rhonda Ramiro to talk about the resumption of the Peace talks in Oslo, Norway August 22-26th, between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines(NDF) and the Government of the Philippines(GPH) under the newly elected President Duterte.

Listen to the full program, or skip ahead to 29:56 to hear this part of the segment to learn more about the current political and social situation in the Philippines, the continuing armed revolution of the New People’s Army, within the context of the resumption of the Peace Talks.

To learn more about the Peace Talks check out the presentation

For more information on How to Support the Peace Talks and a Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines learn more about the campaign Just Peace PH.


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.”

Walk the Walk, Talk the Peace Talks: Continue the Path Towards Peace


Walk the Walk, Talk the Peace Talks:

Continue the Path Towards Peace

The path towards genuinely resuming the Peace Talks between the Government of the Philippines(GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) cannot be made through ultimatums or demands by President Duterte prior to the formal talks. In his State of the Nation Address on July 25th, 2016, President Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA). He swiftly revoked it when he set a deadline by the end of the week for the CPP to reciprocate the ceasefire after an altercation between the NPA and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) which resulted in the death of one AFP member.

It does not make sense for the longest running communist revolution in Asia to simply apply the ceasefire without fully negotiating the terms of such an agreement. Although the militant Left and the CPP have issued statements of hope for the new Presidency, President Duterte must still carry out his pro-people declarations and show the Filipino people the real change that he claims to be. The basic character of Philippine society remains semi-feudal and semi-colonial resulting in the continuance of the vast majority of the Filipino people to be impoverished, landless, and unemployed. Duterte must make meaningful moves to tackle the roots of the armed conflict rather than focus solely on the combat aspect in order to resolve the question of peace in the Philippines.

Despite Duterte’s pronouncements promoting peace, the counter-insurgency program Operation Plan Bayanihan has not been suspended, and the AFP has continued to violently harass and intimidate activists in various provinces, as reported by the participants of the SONA Lakbayan from Bicol. Karapatan, a human rights organization in the Philippines, has also reported the AFP is continuing its military combat operations in Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, North Cotabato, Davao City, Isabela, Cagayan, Bulacan, Quezon, Batangas, Camarines Norte, Bohol, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Samar, Surigao, and other provinces, even after Duterte’s declaration of unilateral ceasefire. It will take a seismic shift in the AFP to change their ways since they have carried out such violent counter-insurgency programs from Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya I & II to Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan, which combined resulted in more than 1,500 extrajudicial killings with no prosecutions or justice for the victims.

The Filipino people are waiting to see what the new President will really accomplish during his first 100 days and the world will continue to watch intently if the peace talks will resume as scheduled on August 20, 2016.  If followed through, this bold step could be the first along the path to resolving the roots of the civil war in the Philippines.

For more information on the Peace Talks check out our powerpoint presentation and the recent interview from Loud & Clear with Jose Maria Sison or play below: