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CAUTION: CHARTER CHANGE SECRETLY RAMMED FORWARD BY DUTERTE REGIME

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 19, 2019 

Contact:  Nikole Cababa, secgen@bayanusa.org 

Rhonda Ramiro, chair@bayanusa.org 

CAUTION: CHARTER CHANGE SECRETLY RAMMED FORWARD BY DUTERTE REGIME

On Dec 11th, the House of Representatives in the Philippines passed a charter change resolution behind closed-doors to seek to amend the 1987 Constitution and lay the ground to pass charter change provisions early next year.  The resolution was secretly passed without the knowledge of the public and media, and while the Southeast Asian Games absorbed national attention.

What is Charter Change?  

Charter Change, widely dubbed as “Cha Cha” is any revision (e.g. structural change: federalism) or amendment (e.g. changing term limits) to the Philippine Constitution. The resolution was led by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and passed by a small executive committee of 14 members, while the House is nearly 300 members.  

The provisions passed included:

 

  • Extending the terms limits of House representatives from 3 years to 5 years, and three consecutive terms
  • Cutting senatorial terms from 6 years to 5 years (3 consecutive terms)
  • Requiring the election of three senators from 9 regions, increasing the current number from 24 to 27 senators
  • Requiring the President and Vice President be elected from the same party
  • Giving the Congress and Senate (largely controlled and influenced by Duterte and his allies) the power to enact a law to ease restrictions on foreign ownership of Filipino businesses and utilities.

 

The 1987 Philippine Constitution currently restricts foreign ownership of businesses to 40%, while this new provision entitles the Congress to by-pass the public and be allowed to pass laws allowing for potentially 100% foreign ownership.

 

Why is this important?

The Philippine Constitution is considered the most important written document outlining the law of the land, principles of the government to uphold national interests, and protection of the rights guaranteed to every Filipino citizen.  As reflected in the Constitution, this closed session meeting circumvents the Congress’ responsibility to convene a Constituent Assembly, Constitutional Convention, or People’s Initiative where people can directly oppose charter changes.

Ultimately, this Cha Cha resolution is an attempt to relax the current Constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership of public utilities, media, natural resources, land, advertising, and educational institutions.  This only leaves the country and its citizens at the mercy of more neoliberal policies, private ownership, corruption, and foreign monopoly control resulting in outrageously high prices, low quality services, lack of transparency and accountability to everyday Filipinos.

“The biggest benefactors of this Charter Change resolution would be the foreign multi-national corporations from the US, China, and other big countries, while nationally-owned Filipino businesses would drown in a sea of foreign investors.  This back door deal is only meant to profit the Duterte regime, the ruling elite and foreign investors salivating over the natural resources of the Philippines.” said Rhonda Ramiro, Chairperson of BAYAN USA

The Fight Continues

The proposal requires a three-fourths vote from both the House and the Senate, and, if passed, it would pave the way for the Duterte regime to advance its economic provisions and attempts to change the government structure to federalism. 

We must remain vigilant in monitoring and condemning any attempts by the Duterte regime and his cronies to ram forward Charter Change and undermine Philippine sovereignty.  Ramiro continued, “The traitorous Duterte has proven he leads loyalists in Congress who treat their government positions as mere tools for business transactions with wealthy elite and foreign investors, rather than honor their sworn commitment to be public servants of the people.”  There is widespread opposition to cha-cha given its immense impact on the people, politics, economy, environment, and future generations. “We can not allow Duterte to shamefully undermine the Philippine Constitution and national sovereignty. History has taught us that only the people united can hold officials accountable and topple corrupt officials like Duterte and foreign oppressors.” 

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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. For more info, visit bayanusa.org

Sources:  

 

 

 

Filipino People Rise to Resist Fascism and Defend Human Rights on International Human Rights Day

Filipino People Rise to Resist Fascism and Defend Human Rights on International Human Rights Day

 

Washington D.C. – BAYAN USA DC-MD-VA commemoration of the 71st Human Rights Day, alongside allies in the People over Profit, Planet Over Profit Action.

 

The well-known resilience of the Filipino people is not inherent but derived from years of resistance against oppression.  Just as Filipinos fought the US-Marcos regime, the Filipino people continue to fight back against the U.S.-Duterte regime. As basic human rights are violated and lives are stolen, the imperative to oust this regime is urgent. But beyond mere survival, Filipinos have always fought for liberation. We must intensify and elevate this revolutionary legacy to smash the power of the oligarchs and build a new government that reflects the aspirations of the people. 

Today, on International Human Rights Day, let us all honor the contributions of those who have fought to defend the basic human rights of peasants, workers, women and children, and have been abruptly taken from this world at the hands of the state. According to Philippine human rights organization Karapatan, more than 293 people have been targeted and extrajudicially killed by the government forces and this will only increase with his counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapanatagan intensified through Executive Order 70. In addition, there are nearly 30,000 people killed in the “drug war.”

Karapatan also counts more than 629 political prisoners, with 382 of them arrested under Duterte’s regime. Let us also continue to demand for their immediate release, especially because their alleged charges are false and lack any evidence.  We call for the release of peace advocates and peace negotiators in the Philippines, namely, Rey Claro Casambre, Vic Ladlad, Renante Gamara, and among others who were illegally arrested, in violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

Though the peace talks between the Government Republic of the Philippines(GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines(NDFP) was halted soon after Duterte declared Martial Law in Mindanao, we must continue to push to resume negotiations to address the root causes of the armed conflict which would ultimately address the massive poverty, landlessness, and need for self-sustainability of the Philippines and the Filipino people. There is not only hope for a better Philippines but a detailed roadmap, which can be seen if one just takes a look at the full comprehensive program outlined by the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms- CASER.

This is what the Philippines could be. This is what the National Democratic movement is fighting for. As Duterte continues down the violent fascist path through the drug war and Oplan Kapanatagan, he is simultaneously digging his own grave. As the death-toll rises, more and more people who have never thought of themselves as activists are drawn to join a movement that seeks to dismantle the current state of the Philippines and build a new state that does not utilize repression to maintain its power. They want to be part of something much larger than themselves. Today, on International Human Rights Day, let us not only remember those who have been martyred by the political turmoil in the Philippines, let us continue what they were fighting for and take the necessary steps to grow the movement for National Democracy – national industrialization, genuine agrarian reform – a self-sufficient sovereign Philippines!

Brandon Lee is a survivor of an attempted killing by the Philippine State because of his human rights work in the Cordilleras; he is resilient and will continue his path towards recovery!  Let us continue supporting him and his family by donating HERE 

International Human Rights Day Greetings from Brandon Lee:

 

 

Fight Tyranny! Resist Duterte’s dictatorship!

Stop the Killings! Stop the Attacks!

Justice for Brandon Lee! Justice for All!

Free All Political Prisoners!

End Martial Law in Mindanao Now! End Oplan Kapanatagan, MO 32, and EO 70!

 

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.

BAYAN USA “Updates from the Philippines” on Apex Express Radio 94.1 KPFA

BAYAN USA’s “Updates from the Philippines” segment was featured on Apex Express Radio show explores President Duterte’s “accomplishments” in the Philippines at his mid-term of 3yrs and what people are doing to stop him in his tracks from completing a full term as the year comes to a close.

Listen as it opens the show, and continue listening to hear more about the Sri Lankan Presidential elections results splitting the country across ethnic lines. 

Donate to the #SaveBrandonLee campaign here

 

BAYAN USA Condemns Duterte’s Counterinsurgency Raids & Attacks in Negros, Samar, and Metro Manila

 

For Immediate Release

Contact:  Rhonda Ramiro, Chairperson, chair@bayanusa.org

Nikole Cababa, Secretary General, secgen@bayanusa.org

Oct 31, 2019

BAYAN USA Condemns Duterte’s Counterinsurgency Raids & Attacks in Negros, Samar, and Metro Manila

BAYAN-USA condemns the recent spate of raids of regional offices of Gabriela, BAYAN MUNA and the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) and the mass arrest of at least 60 people in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.  Combined state forces involved in the raids include elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), who implemented this coordinated attack on progressive organizations, dubiously accused of being communist fronts. 

The increased crackdown on activists and critics of the Duterte regime is part of the ongoing counterinsurgency program, Oplan Kapanatagan and Memorandum Order 32 (MO 32).  Oplan Kapanatagan, roughly translated as “Operation Plan Stability,” is the consolidated effort of the regime to use a “whole of nation” approach in implementing the program, by directing all government agencies to carry out counter-insurgency tactics that result in trampling on the civil liberties of civilians, including activists.  

“Duterte is desperately resorting to mass raids and arbitrary arrests to silence dissent. These gestapo-style tactics are terrorizing communities and will only result in more global condemnation of his fascist regime,” said BAYAN-USA Chairperson Rhonda Ramiro.

Among those arrested in the raids included 40 members of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU)/May First Movement, Nilo Rosales of the Kilusang Mayo Uno, and Aldrin de Cerna of the Kilusang Mayo Uno, John Milton Lozande and Danny Tabura of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), Proceso Quiatchon of the human rights group Karapatan, Anne Krueger of Paghimutad (alternative media outlet) and six minors.  In Metro Manila, as early as 5:00AM in the morning, the home of GABRIELA Metro Manila spokesperson Cora Agovida and her husband, KADAMAY (urban poor association) Metro Manila leader Michael Tan Bartolome was raided while state forces took their two children (age 2, age 10) into the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). 

“It is no surprise that this raid took place in Negros, also known as the ‘Sugar Bowl’ of the nation. Negros is home to the largest and some of the most lucrative sugarcane plantations in the Philippines, yet farmers and workers in Negros face deep poverty, hunger, and extreme exploitation. Clearly, Duterte and his supporters oppose any threats to their profits, and they are cracking down on workers and progressive organizations that have formed to address these issues and fight for long-term change,” stated Ramiro.

The raids in Bacolod City are just the latest in a long string of military counterinsurgency operations, which are becoming more frequent. Last November, Memorandum Order 32 (MO 32) was issued by Duterte to deploy more AFP and PNP troops to Negros, Bicol, and Samar to fully implement its state terror program to “suppress lawless violence and acts of terror. ” On October 26, the AFP Central Command and 8th Infintry Division conducted “surgical air strikes” dropping 500 pounds worth of bombs on Northern Samar communities in an attempt to wipe out the New People’s Army (NPA) in the region. In reality, the result has been de-facto martial law conditions throughout the country, with farmers and families afraid to leave their homes in fear of being tagged as NPA, separated from their land and livelihood, and vulnerable to harassment, surveillance, illegal arrests, and extrajudicial killings at the hands of state forces. Under the Duterte regime, there have been at least 87 politically-motivated killings of unarmed civilians

“Duterte’s dirty tricks will never silence the growing movement for change in the Philippines. His fascist tactics will simply fuel the fire of the movement building for his ouster,” said Ramiro. “At the same time, we also hold the U.S. government accountable for Duterte’s raids, illegal arrests and extrajudicial killings, because the U.S. continues to fund, equip and collaborate with Duterte’s death squads. We condemn and demand an end to all support for the Duterte regime.”

BAYAN-USA calls on all of our member organizations and allies to stand with Negros and Samar, and launch mass protests to condemn the state terror committed by the Duterte regime.  We demand an end to Duterte’s war economy and counterinsurgency tactics funded and guided by U.S. aid to crackdown on activists in the Philippines to the tune of $193.5 million last year alone.  We stand united as part of the national democratic movement fighting for national independence, true democracy, genuine agrarian land reform, and national industries that would provide living wage jobs, a sustainable economy, and improve the lives of majority of the population composed of landless peasants and workers.  We will continue to struggle alongside our kababayan in the Philippines to expose and oppose state fascism and dictatorship, and fight for our motherland to be free!

#DefendNegros  #ActivismIsNotACrime  #EndStateFascism

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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

 

Source

 

Source: Defend Negros

Among arrested are:

  1. John Milton “Ka Butch” Lozande, former fourth nominee of Anakpawis Party-list and Secretary-General of National Federation of Sugaw Workers (NFSW);
  2. Danny Tabura, leader of NFSW;
  3. Aldrin Dela Cerna, organizer of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas – Negros (KMP Negros);
  4. Noli Rosales, labor leader of Kilusang Mayo Uno;
  5. Romulo Bito-on, Jr, leader of Bayan Muna Party-list;
  6. and his wife Mermalyn; 
  7. May-anne Krueg of Paghimutad Media group in Negros
  8. Proceso Quiatchon, human rights defender of Karapatan-Negros; and
  9. Members of Teatro Obrero and Teatro Bungkal cultural group.