For Immediate Release
July 7, 2019
Contact: Rhonda Ramiro, firstname.lastname@example.org
BAYAN USA condemns to the utmost extent the speaking tour of the disingenuous Mindanao Indigenous People’s Council of Elders (MIPCEL) that is traveling the US to vilify community groups and progressive organizations that support the indigenous Lumad fight for self-determination. This treacherous tour must be exposed and opposed as an extension of the US-Duterte counterinsurgency efforts to obscure the fascist, dictatorial nature of the US-Duterte regime by blaming the human rights crisis on the people’s movement.
With stops in cities throughout the United States like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington DC, MIPCEL is meeting with organizations and institutions like the United Nations to terrorist-tag alternative Lumad schools and progressive organizations—including BAYAN and member organizations like Anakbayan and Gabriela. The tour unsurprisingly coincides with the vote of the United Nations Human Rights Council to launch an independent investigation into the human rights violations in the Philippines. This smear campaign is a desperate attempt to discredit the mass movement both in the Philippines and the United States at a time when diplomatic isolation of the US-Duterte regime is gaining strength.
MIPCEL, formerly known as the Mindanao Indigenous People’s Conference for Peace and Development (MIPCPD), is a self-proclaimed “umbrella group” of pro-government Lumad that unleashes divide-and-conquer tactics against their own communities. Formed in 2003, the group has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and is tasked to deceive Lumad communities into collaborating with the AFP. MIPCEL serves as a contract negotiator between local tribes and private business, deceiving Lumad into signing away their ancestral domain. They also promote the recruitment of indigenous people into paramilitary groups like the Alamara in Talaingod and the Magahat-Bagani in Caraga. These paramilitary groups are armed and trained by the AFP to terrorize and displace fellow Lumad in order to seize their land and clear the path for foreign corporations and big business. Members of the MIPCEL touring the US are themselves associated with the paramilitary groups committing human rights violations against the Lumad.
Counter to the lies being spread by the MIPCEL tour, the true terrorist plaguing Lumad communities with decades of forcible displacement, illegal occupation, food blockades, murderous rampages and land grabbing as part of US-patterned counterinsurgency operations is the Philippine government. Bastardized calls for “peace” through terrorist-tagging and manipulation by MIPCEL and AFP have only brought bloodshed and terror to Lumad communities. Under Duterte’s administration alone, more than 400,000 indigenous people have been displaced in Mindanao under martial law on top of the rampant human rights violations and extrajudicial killings happening throughout the entire country.
The community groups that MIPCEL was designed to quell are righteously asserting the Lumad right to education, ancestral domain and self-determination. The reactionary MIPCEL tour parallels the many tours that progressive groups have successfully organized to raise awareness on the plight of the Lumad such as the annual Manilakbayans from Mindanao to Malacañang and the Lakbay Lumad in the US in 2016. Around the world, governments and institutions are rising up in solidarity with community leaders and local activists to condemn the US-Duterte regime for its atrocities against the Filipino people and 28 nations have already endorsed a resolution calling on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to investigate the human rights situation in the Philippines.
The surging people’s movement will not be deceived or subdued by these orchestrated attempts to confuse the international community from recognizing the atrocities of the US-Duterte regime. These efforts only prove the righteousness of resistance and amplify the international furor against the Duterte administration. The days of the rotten Philippine state are numbered, and more so are those of Duterte in office. We stand with the Lumad people and all organizations that support their true aspirations for self-determination. We struggle for the unity and liberation of the Lumad people—and the liberation of the entire Philippine nation.
AFP-MIPCEL, GET OUT OF LUMAD COMMUNITIES!
ACTIVISM IS NOT TERRORISM!
END US-BACKED COUNTERINSURGENCY!
BAYAN-USA is an alliance of over 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.