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BAYAN-USA: Stop the Attacks on Human Rights Defenders NOW!

BAYAN-USA: Stop the Attacks on Human Rights Defenders NOW!

Threats and Harassment by Government Forces Foreshadowed Shooting of Human Rights Defender Brandon Lee

 

BAYAN-USA condemns the shooting of Brandon Lee, Cordillera Human Rights Alliance’s paralegal volunteer and provincial human rights officer in Ifugao, on August 6 in Lagawe, Ifugao leaving him seriously injured. This attack is part of a spate of attacks on human rights defenders targeted by the U.S.-Duterte regime in its attempts to violently silence all opposition. It was Lee’s dedication to seeking justice for victims of human rights violations and for the rights of indigenous peoples, farmers and peasants that drew the attention of the fascistic government, specifically by the 54th IBPA who had already been surveilling, threatening and harassing him prior to this incident. This attack hits particularly close to home for BAYAN-USA, as Lee was a member of our alliance and several other community organizations in the U.S., serving as a volunteer staff member of the BAYAN-USA Northern California region before his commitment to his new family as well as serving the cause of justice and genuine peace drew him to relocate to the Philippines in 2010.

According to CHRA, this was not the beginning: “In 2015, the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance with other human rights organizations submitted a position paper to the United States Congress’ Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in Washington, D.C. One of the cases cited was the death threats Brandon Lee received as a human rights worker in Ifugao. That year, Brandon and other IPM leaders and members were sent a photo of an Ifugao burial blanket with messages that they will face the same fate as human rights worker, William Bugatti who was extrajudicially killed in March 2014.” 

We believe this is no coincidence and that elements of the State security forces or agents are responsible for Lee’s shooting. This heinous attack was committed under Duterte’s Executive Order 70, which institutionalizes a “whole of nation” approach within his counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapanatagan purportedly aimed to crush the “communist insurgency.” However, what the shooting of Lee exemplifies and fact finding missions by human rights organizations have found is a dramatic increase in violent attacks against legal organizations such as Karapatan, BAYAN, Cordillera Human Rights Alliance, among many others.  Just recently there has been a spate of killings in Negros Oriental, reaching up to 48 extrajudicial victims recorded this year.

We call on all people who believe in human rights to join us in condemning this violent attack on Brandon Lee and all human rights defenders in the Philippines and hold the government accountable, specifically the State security forces that the Duterte administration has let loose in the Cordillera region – the 54th IBPA, the 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army and the Northern Luzon Command.  These attacks on human rights defenders and legal organizations need to end. The real threat to Philippine peace and security is the President himself and the state forces in his command. They are the real perpetrators of the rampant violence, chaos and growing poverty in the country and if we allow his Presidency to continue it will only get worse.

Please make a donation to support Brandon and his family for the cost of medical expenses and other expenses that may accrue. 

Visit GoFundMe page.

 

 

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BAYAN USA amplifies the call to Oust Duterte during his 4th State of the Nation Address

For Immediate Release

July 22, 2019 

Contact: Rhonda Ramiro, chair@bayanusa.org 

BAYAN USA amplifies the call to Oust Duterte during his 4th State of the Nation Address

(Picture:  BAYAN USA member organizations lead a march and rally in Washington DC from the White House to the Philippine Embassy to raise awareness about Philippine President Duterte’s crimes against the Filipino people.)

On July 22, 2019, people across the United States and around the world launched widespread protests to counter Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s 4th State of the Nation Address.  Thousands took to the streets to condemn Duterte’s attacks on the poor and most marginalized sectors of Philippine society and his simultaneous betrayal of the country’s sovereignty to foreign imperialist powers.  

The Philippine economy has plunged deeper into national debt as Dutertenomics and neoliberal policies such as the TRAIN law and rice tariffication law which have dominated the lives of everyday Filipinos left with record high inflation, loss of over 803,000 agricultural jobs, stagnating wages, and burdensome taxes that increase the wealth of foreign corporations and the ruling elite in the Philippines. These circumstances force more than 6,000 Filipinos each day to migrate abroad in search of work while at the same time facing the devaluing of their hard earned remittances sent back home to the Philippines; remittances are estimated to have reached an all-time high of $33 billion.

The recent May mid-term election resulted in destroying any last semblance of checks and balances in the Philippine government, with the majority of Senate seats being taken by Duterte loyalists, while pro-people candidates and their supporters faced aggressive harassment, vilification, and death squads.  With all branches of government under Duterte’s control, he is hellbent on railroading charter change or “Cha Cha” forward, in an effort to change the 1987 Constitution to eliminate term limits; expand foreign ownership of public utilizes, education institutions, and media outlets; and ultimately pave the way for unlimited martial law powers. 

(Picture: Rhonda Ramiro, Chairperson of BAYAN USA speaking about her recent visit to the Philippines to meet displaced Lumad (indigenous people) who are fighting for their right to education and self-determination)

The human rights situation in the Philippines has become so alarming that Duterte can longer hide the crisis. The pivotal vote of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to launch an independent investigation of the human rights issues in the Philippines sends a message that the international community is concerned with the impunity which has reigned under Duterte. Since he came into power three years ago, there have been at least 30,000 victims of his bloody war on drugs, over 400,000 displaced since his declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao, and over 500 political prisoners in the Philippines facing trumped up charges.  While Martial Law was only officially declared in Mindanao, de facto martial law has spread throughout the archipelago as seen through the intensified militarization and state terror against farmers, trade union leaders, priests, journalists, and human rights defenders.

Overseas Filipinos are deeply enraged to hear Duterte’s excuses for allowing the Chinese government to occupy, pollute, militarize, and exploit the resource rich region that falls under the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).  Duterte attempts to please both his imperialist masters–the Chinese government and the US government–at the expense of surrendering Philippine sovereignty and territory. On one hand he entertains President Xi Jinping’s demands in the EEZ, and on the other he calls on President Trump for more military support via the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), and Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).  The Filipino people deserve a democratic government that truly defends the interests and basic rights of the Filipino people. Instead, over three years of Duterte’s failures has only exposed him as a shameless traitor, dictator, and murderer that must be ousted!

Members of GABRIELA USA march against Duterte’s macho-fascism and attacks on women and human rights defenders.

Waves of protest have launched with over 10 major cities hosting People’s State of the Nation protests across the United States.  The rising tide of dissent against Duterte’s dictatorship and clamor for national sovereignty and genuine democracy is gaining momentum.  Everyday, Duterte grows even more isolated from the people. His reign of terror must come to an end. It’s time for Duterte to be ousted!

(Picture: More than 300 gathered for a march and protest in front of the Philippine Consulate of San Francisco, CA. A 36 foot banner was dropped in front of the Philippine National Police Outpost Office in San Francisco.)

(Picture:  Over 200 gathered for the United People’s State of the Nation Rally in front of the Philippine Consulate of Los Angeles, California)

 

 

 

(Picture:  Over 200 rallied in the rain for the United People’s State of the Nation Protest in front of Philippine Consulate in New York, NY)

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Reject Duterte the Traitor for Pledging Allegiance to China Defend Philippine Sovereignty in the Face of Chinese Military Aggression!

For Immediate Release

July 12, 2019

Contact: Rhonda Ramiro, chair@bayausa.org

Reject Duterte the Traitor for Pledging Allegiance to China

Defend Philippine Sovereignty in the Face of Chinese Military Aggression!

Today marks the 3rd anniversary of the historic ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the maritime case declaring China’s 9-dash line claim as illegal and instead ruling in favor of the Philippines’ sovereign rights to the West Philippine Sea.  The case of Philippines vs. China was taken to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) in order to settle the territorial dispute peacefully, yet China has refused to accept the ruling and is choosing instead to further occupy, exploit, and militarize the West Philippine Sea.

Claiming the West Philippine Sea

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the West Philippine Sea is one of the busiest shipping trade routes in the world and contains incredible natural wealth estimated to contain 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 11 billion barrels of oil. China has illegally claimed 100% of the West Philippine Sea, which includes the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Philippines, an area 200 nautical miles from the Philippines coast.  The tribunal victory for the Philippines clarified that the Philippines has exclusive rights to fish in its own territory. 

Despite all this, China has ignored the ruling and has gone so far as to aggressively conduct massive land reclamation and create artificial islands equipped with military runways and facilities.  The consequence has been devastating environmental destruction due to seafloor dredging, giant clam harvesting, and widespread poaching of marine life. The court ruling acknowledged China had severely damaged 48 square miles of the Greater Spratly islands, which researchers estimate the Philippines could be owed upwards to $200 million alone for rent and damages.

Abandoning the Filipino People

In June, Duterte was caught in utter silence when 22 Filipino fisherman were left stranded one evening at sea after a Chinese vessel collided and destroyed their boat only to be rescued hours later by a Vietnamese boat.  Additionally, there have been numerous cases of Filipino fisherman and media facing harassment, surveillance, and theft at the hands of Chinese military and fishermen.  Duterte’s delayed and passive response belittled the incident as a “little maritime incident,” while the Filipino fishermen cry out for justice in the face of losing their source of livelihood and survival.   

“Duterte has turned his back on the Filipino people who are justifiably upset about China’s encroachment of the West Philippine Sea, including Recto Bank,” said Nikole Cababa Secretary General of BAYAN USA.  “If the Philippines’ natural resources were actually protected and used to serve the needs of the Filipino people, particularly the most

 poor and oppressed, then we could lift millions out of poverty and homelessness, and millions wouldn’t be forced to migrate abroad in s

earch of livelihood. Instead, we have a puppet president bending backwards to sell our resources and serve his foreign masters in a desperate move to stay in power.  But the people will not back down from this fight despite Duterte’s spineless maneuvers.”

 

Atin Ang Pinas! China Layas!

We must stand with Filipino fishermen and the Filipino people demanding the Duterte regime uphold Philippine sovereignty and not be bullied by China. We demand China pay for the environmental destruction and damages made to our precious reefs and territory. Cababa continued, “We hold President Duterte accountable for his irresponsible and traitorous stance on China, and we demand he step down or face the power of the people to replace him.”  It is the responsibility of the Philippine government to promote independent foreign policies and to protect the natural resources and interests of the Filipino people.

We call on the Filipino community and allies to take action on July 12th to commemorate this tribunal victory, and join us to hold a United People’s State of the Nation Address on July 22nd to expose Duterte’s failures and continue the fight for national independence and genuine democracy in the Philippines. 

 

China Layas! Hands Off the Philippines!

Atin Ang Pinas!  Assert Sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea!

Independent Foreign Policy Now!

 

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BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 29 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing students, scholars, women, workers, artists, and youth. As the first and largest international 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 and progressive Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org

 

United People’s State of the Nation Address – July 22

On Monday, July 22nd, hundreds will gather in Washington D.C. 
to protest the US-Duterte regime for it’s crimes against the Filipino people.  
 
The fascist Trump administration continues to fully support the Duterte regime ($193 million in 2018 alone), while carrying out its bloody drug war on the poor, Martial law in Mindanao, and counter-insurgency war on the revolutionary movement in the Philippines. With more than 30,000 extrajudicial killings, 532 political prisoners, and at least 56 Philippine National Police officers involved in abusing women, the US-Duterte regime continues its state repression and terror against the people.
 
Tama Na! Enough is Enough! 
The US-Duterte regime is guilty of daily gross human rights violations and now is the time to take action and amplify the call to 
stop US intervention in the Philippines and all across the globe.
STOP THE US WAR MACHINE!
US TROOPS OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES!
OUST THE US-DUTERTE REGIME!
 
JOIN US ON JULY 22, MONDAY 11AM 
CONVENING AT PENNSYLVANIA NW, WASHINGTON DC
We will then MARCH to the Philippine Embassy to join the Malaya Movement Action that will start at 12:30PM
[Actions will be held across the United States- see full list below]