BAYAN USA condemns the Biden administration’s continued shameless support for the fascist Duterte regime. On Friday, June 24th, the U.S. State Department approved a potential $2.5 billion arms sale to the Philippines, which included a dozen F-16 fighter aircrafts, missiles, and other equipment. This comes on the heels of the Duterte regime’s extension of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) for 6 more months after State Department officials worked to sweeten the deal for Duterte, and after Biden himself wrote to Duterte hoping for an extension. The VFA, signed in 1999, has allowed the presence of U.S. military forces in the country, supposedly in a “visiting” capacity. In reality, the U.S. uses the VFA to intensify its military pivot in the Asia-Pacific, supplementing the billions of dollars’ worth of military funding and arms it provides to the Philippines.
Although marketed as a way to “improve” the Philippines’ counterterrorism operations and “minimize” collateral damage, we know that in reality, the Philippine military and police will use such aid to further terrorize the Filipino masses. The military’s recent brutal killings of 3 Lumad-Monobo farmers—Willy Rodriguez, Lenie Rivas and Angel Rivas—is a bloody testament to this. On June 15th, troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 3rd Special Forces Battalion fired indiscriminately on farmers harvesting abaca hemp on their ancestral lands in Lianga, Surigao del Sur. Afterwards, the AFP desecrated the bodies and presented them as members of the New People’s Army, when they were in fact unarmed civilians. Angel Rivas, 12, was a Grade 6 student of the Lumad school Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) while Willy Rodriguez and Lenie Rivas were members of Lumad organization Malahutayong Pakigbisog alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU).
As Filipinos in the U.S., we must expose the fact that the Biden administration is sending our tax dollars to help fund atrocities in the Philippines, a far cry from Biden’s campaign promise not to cozy up to dictators. It is a clear demonstration that U.S. imperialism—no matter which party is at the helm—will bankroll the illegal imprisonment and killings of farmers and provide the handbook on fascist counterinsurgency tactics in the Philippines, as long as it is in the U.S.’ geopolitical and economic interests. We must call for the immediate blocking of the arms sale, as well as the passing of the Philippine Human Rights Act (PHRA) to cut all forms of U.S. military aid to the Duterte regime, including any future arms sales.
At the same time, we must also call for an end to the terror-tagging, illegal arrests, and massacres of Filipino people by Duterte and his minions in the military, police, National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), and other agencies. The Philippines cannot afford another year of Duterte’s reign of terror. We call on Filipinos in the U.S. to link together in the Duterte Wakasan Na Movement to end his regime by any means possible. Let us fight for justice for Willy Rodriguez, Lenie Rivas, Angel Rivas, and all victims of the U.S.-Duterte regime! Let us continue to fight until the Philippines is truly free!
End U.S. support for the Duterte regime! Pass the PHRA!
Justice for the Lumad 3!
Stop Killing Farmers!
Duterte Wakasan Na!
Oust Duterte Now!