Stop the Killings! Filipinos Protest Crackdown on Activists, Condemn Threat of Fascist US-Duterte Dictatorship

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 12, 2017

REFERENCE
Nina Macapinlac, BAYAN USA Northeast Regional Coordinator
bayanusa.ne@gmail.com, (201) 839-6050

BAYAN-USA-NE_Stop-The-Killings-D10_Mobe_57_DSC_3125_LR
Community members gather outside the Philippine Consulate to protest the killings and human rights violations under the Duterte administration (PC: Julie Jamora)

NEW YORK—As part of a global call to protest on International Human Rights Day, Filipinos and their allies gathered outside the Consulate General of the Philippines in New York City to demand an end to President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent crackdown on activists and to condemn the rising threat of dictatorship in the country.

Led by BAYAN USA Northeast, 75 people mobilized with banners that read “Fight Against the Fascist US-Duterte Regime” and held signs featuring recently slain community leaders. In the first weekend of December, 10 activists were murdered within 48 hours, including a priest and pastor in Nueva Ecija and Oriental Mindoro respectively, and eight indigenous Lumad leaders in South Cotabato. This spate of killings follows Duterte’s formal termination of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and his labeling of activists and members of legal mass organizations as “terrorists.”

“It seems that Duterte is looking for terrorists when all he has to do is look in the mirror, and look at his Cabinet, and look at the Armed Forces of the Philippines who have killed so many of our comrades back home and displaced our people,” said Mike Legaspi of BAYAN USA.

Protesters also called out the heightened militarization and displacement of indigenous communities in Mindanao under Duterte’s martial law. Over 400,000 people from Moro and Lumad national minorities  have been displaced from their homes since the start of the Duterte administration. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is currently barring internally displaced Lumad communities in Surigao del Sur from accessing food and medical aid. After being the center of clashes between the local ISIS-affiliated Maute group and the AFP, Marawi City has been razed to the ground from the daily aerial bombings of the AFP between May and November.

“After meeting with evacuees from Marawi and indigenous Lumad communities, it was clear that Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao not only razed Marawi to the ground, but has committed grave human rights violations against the people. Despite Duterte’s statements, Marawi is not liberated,” said May Madarang of GABRIELA NY, who reported the findings of a recent international humanitarian mission to Mindanao. “We ask the community at large to rise up against the unjust treatment of the Lumad and Moro People, to resist fascism and tyranny in the Philippines and everywhere.”

This intensification of state sanctioned violence and militarism comes at the heels of US President Trump’s meeting with Duterte at the East Asia Summit. Trump politically and financially backed the human rights abuses of the Duterte administration by congratulating Duterte on his anti-drug and anti-terrorism efforts and pledging an increase of more than $16 million of military aid. Additionally, the US is initiating an economic Free Trade Agreement with the Philippines and eyeing the country as a “prime piece of real estate” for military basing.

“The US has even more firmly attached its puppet strings to Duterte, supporting Duterte’s fascism and moves toward a full fledged dictatorship,” said Rhonda Ramiro, vice chairperson of BAYAN USA, in a recent statement.

In light of the steadily mounting number of state-sanctioned killings and human rights abuses under Duterte’s administration, the organizers of Sunday’s protest called on overseas Filipinos to resist the imminent threat of a US-Duterte dictatorship.

“Kian de los Santos’ mother was an OFW too. She had to fly back home to bury—not visit—her son. Is this the Philippines that you want when you go back to visit your families?” said Dominique Liwanag of MIGRANTE NY. “We Filipino migrants and OFWs are not just going to sit here and watch you do what you want. We will hold you accountable, Mr. President, for all the human rights violations you have committed.”

###

 

Advertisements

Filipinos Rally Outside Consulate Against Martial Law and Call For Resumption of the GRP-NDFP Peace Talks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release
June 6, 2017

REFERENCE
Nina Macapinlac, BAYAN USA Northeast Regional Coordinator
bayanusa.ne@gmail.com, (201) 839-6050

never again to martial law
Filipinos and allies rally outside New York Philippine Consulate to condemn martial law in Mindanao (Photo Credit: Joe Catron)

NEW YORK — On Monday, June 5th, Filipinos and allies rallied outside the New York Philippine Consulate to condemn martial law in the Philippines and to call for the resumption of the GRP-NDFP Peace Talks.  The rally was organized by BAYAN USA Northeast two weeks after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao following attacks between the Maute-ISIS group and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Marawi City.

The demonstration called for a just and lasting peace in the Philippines and for the continuation of the peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government Republic of the Philippines (GRP). The Duterte administration canceled the fifth round of peace talks shortly after martial law was declared in Mindanao, blaming the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) which issued a call to intensify military offensives to protect communities against increased AFP military operations. This round of talks was supposed to finish discussions on agrarian reform and rural development (ARRD) in the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms and Political and Constitutional Reform, and start deliberations on national industrialization and economic development (NIED) and environmental protection, and rehabilitation and compensation.

“Who stands to gain from the cancellation of the peace talks and from martial law? Definitely not the people of the Philippines, especially not the Moro and indigenous peoples of Mindanao who are being displaced by the thousands by the AFP,” said Ruthie Arroyo, chairperson of Anakbayan New Jersey. “Let us not forget the brutality of martial law under dictator Marcos. Martial law has never been the solution to problems in the Philippines and will only aggravate the ongoing all-out war of the GRP against people’s resistance.”

Potri Ranka of Kinding Sindaw spoke on her experience as a martial law survivor and as an indigenous Moro woman from Lanao del Sur. Close to tears, Ranka called on President Duterte and the GRP to immediately revoke martial law and end the war on terror. “My city is already pulverized by air strikes,” she said. “There are more civilians killed than [those from the] Maute group. Stop the airstrikes! It destroys the Marawi. Give emphasis on self-determination of the Meranao Moro people and [do not use] the Meranao people as collateral in the war against terrorism. That is instigated by the real enemy of the President and detracts him from his peace talks program.”

The protesters made clear that they did not support the actions of the U.S.-directed Maute group in Marawi City, but that martial law was not the answer to bringing peace to Mindanao and will only bring about more human rights violations and state repression. Only a few days after the declaration of martial law, close to 300 young Moro men were rounded up and arrested in Davao City for lack of identification. The period after martial law also saw “the arrest of members and leaders of progressive organizations and the targeting of civilians” under the justification of ‘security.’ Long-running workers strikes and pickets in Mindanao are being dispersed and arrested, like the ShinSun union strike camp.

“The question of peace in Marawi, in Mindanao, and by extension in the Philippines, is essentially a question of land. The Moro struggle for self-determination, including the right to self-defense from the historic militarization and all-out war policies of the Philippine government against them, is essentially also a struggle for food, livelihood, dignity and justice,” said Bernadette Ellorin, chairperson of BAYAN USA. “Instead of addressing the roots of armed conflict and social unrest in Mindanao, the Philippine government is branding terrorists and once again skirting the status quo of impoverishment and landlessness imposed by the minority few against the vast majority in the country, with the backing of the U.S.”

NO TO MARTIAL LAW! OPPOSE GRP ALL OUT WAR!
END U.S. COUNTERINSURGENCY OPERATIONS & WAR ON TERROR!
RESUME THE NDFP-GRP PEACE TALKS!
DEFEND THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLE!

###

potri crying.jpg
Martial law survivor Potri Ranka of Kinding Sindaw shares experiences of her family in Marawi and appeals to Duterte for the lifting of martial law (Photo Credit: Joe Catron)
tita sad martial law
Filipinos from New York and New Jersey come together to say “Never Again to Martial Law!” (Photo Credit: Joe Catron)

IMPERYALISMO IBAGSAK! Filipinos in the Northeast Resist Trump and Call for Unity and Solidarity Against Imperialism

filipinos-abny-against-fascism
Members of BAYAN USA Northeast at the “Emergency Rally Against the Muslim and Refugee Travel Ban” in Washington Square Park on January 25

For Immediate Release
February 4, 2017

Reference
Nina Macapinlac, BAYAN USA Northeast Regional Coordinator
bayanusa.ne@gmail.com, (973) 641-9735

On the anniversary of the Philippine American War, Filipinos in the Northeast carry on the legacy of revolutionaries who fought against Spain and the United States by resisting the Trump administration’s outright fascist and imperialist agenda. Since Trump’s inauguration, Filipinos from throughout New York, New Jersey, and Washington DC have joined hundreds of thousands of people as part of the international outrage against the Trump administration’s discriminatory Executive Orders against migrants and refugees. This Philippine Solidarity Week, which happens every year on the week of February 4 to mark the Philippine American War, BAYAN USA Northeast commemorates the war that gave birth to the first colonies of the U.S. and calls for an intensification and continuation of Filipino resistance against U.S. domination.  

Since January 20, protests have swept the country almost every day and member organizations of BAYAN USA have taken to the streets throughout the Tri-State Area. Many of these rallies highlighted the need for unity and resistance in the face of an oligarchic administration bent on attacking the rights and services of working and poor communities.  On January 20, GABRIELA NY joined the Black, Brown and Indigenous March to linked arms with comrades to defend people’s rights.  That same day, Anakbayan NJ led the “Jersey City People’s Inauguration,” a rally and march organized by a coalition of progressive Jersey City groups called the Jersey City People’s Alliance.

“More than ever we must strengthen our solidarity and people’s movements as this fascist administration seeks to divide and intimidate us!” said Ana Robelo, the Solidarity Officer of Anakbayan New Jersey. “We take to the streets to show that with people power we will fight to defend our communities.”

On January 21, Anakbayan New York, as part of the steering committee of the New York City Against Trump Coalition, led the “Call to Action: J21 Make Fascists Scared Again!” march in a Muslim-majority neighborhood of Queens. “An image of monstrosity was just sworn in as president,” said Michael Legaspi, Solidarity Officer of Anakbayan New York. “ A monster that threatens to build walls to keep immigrants out; threatened to force Muslims to register their names for state surveillance, threatened to criminalize and deport millions more undocumented people–including Filipinos.”

Though the Philippines is not officially listed as one of the seven predominantly Muslim countries banned by Trump’s Executive Order entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” 300,000 undocumented Filipinos in the U.S. are in danger of deportation as the Trump administration steps up its sweep of undocumented immigrants. In his Executive Order called “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” Trump announced an immigration enforcement priority system that is much broader than anything in the past. The language of this Executive Order suggests that individuals can be merely charged with a crime and do not have to be convicted to be considered for removal.

Additionally, President Rodrigo Duterte announced his intention of non-interference and lack of support for Filipino migrants who get deported. “If you are not allowed to stay there where you are staying, get out because if you are caught and deported, I will not lift a finger,” he said, during a news briefing in Malacanang. “You know that it is a violation of the law.”

Both of these world leaders head governments that are culpable for the forced migration of hundreds of thousands of people whom they are now condemning. All of the countries in the Trump administration’s travel entry ban (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) are countries that were bombed, militarized, and economically sanctioned by U.S. imperialist wars of aggression. The Philippines is also no stranger to forced migration by neoliberal policies. The Philippines’ labor export policy pushes 6000 Filipinos to leave the country everyday in search of work. Instead of creating the conditions for national industries and domestic jobs, the Philippine economy relies heavily on the labor and remittances of migrants–the very same people who Duterte will “not lift a finger” to help.

BAYAN USA Northeast draws lessons and inspiration from the Filipino revolutionaries of the Philippine-American War and calls on Filipinos in the United States to carry this legacy through heightened struggle. Survival under the Trump administration will require unity and a mass movement to destroy rising neo-fascism and intensifying imperialism. With every move of the Trump administration, Filipinos must link arms in solidarity with the masses of people in the United States who are taking to the streets in defense of their communities.  Now is not the time to quiver in fear, but to join mass organizations and alliances like BAYAN USA Northeast and the International League of Peoples’ Struggle to demand system change.

MAKIBAKA, HUWAG MATAKOT!
IMPERYALISMO IBAGSAK!
LONG LIVE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY!

###

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Filipinos Welcome President Duterte’s First ‘State of the Nation Address’ with Rally for Peace Based on Justice

For Immediate Release
July 26, 2016

Reference
Nina Macapinlac, BAYAN USA Northeast Regional Coordinator
bayanusa.ne@gmail.com, (973) 641-9735

Filipinos Welcome President Duterte’s First ‘State of the Nation Address’ with Rally for Peace Based on Justice

IMG_5249.JPG
Michael Garrovillas of Anakbayan NY at the Northeast ‘SONA ng Bayan’ (PC: Devyn Manibo)

NEW YORK – Filipinos came together this past Friday, July 22 in Woodside, Queens to mark the first State of the Nation Address (SONA) of newly elected Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Organized by BAYAN USA Northeast, a progressive alliance of Filipino organizations in New York and New Jersey, the rally reflected the “SONA ng Bayan” or “People’s State of the Nation Address” that happens annually in the Philippines. Expressing support for the Duterte administration’s pro-people reforms, the New York rally carried the message, “President Duterte, the Struggle Continues! Achieve Peace Based on Justice in the Philippines!”

Much like the Duterte administration so far, this year’s SONA ng Bayan was markedly different from others in the past. Featuring cultural performances and speeches, the rally expressed hope for change under the Duterte administration and called for the full implementation of the “People’s Agenda for Change.” Compiled by BAYAN Philippines after a long consultation process with different sectors of Philippine society, which involved the convening of thousands of Filipinos throughout the country, the People’s Agenda for Change presents a progressive and nationalist platform for the first 100 days of the Duterte administration in five key areas: economics, social policy, national sovereignty and foreign policy, peace and human rights, and governance and corruption. This Agenda was personally delivered by BAYAN activists and received by the president in Malacañang Palace during his first day in office.

Among these demands, the demonstrators highlighted the importance of the resumption of peace talks between the government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. “The fight for peace must be grounded in the interests of the Filipino people lest it not be peace at all but pacification,” said Nina Macapinlac, Northeast Regional Coordinator of BAYAN USA. “We must address the root causes of the armed conflict [in the Philippines] that are embedded in the basic conditions of Filipino society, which is one very much beholden to imperialist and local class elite interests.”

Different sectoral groups delivered speeches welcoming the pro-people measures of the President and calling on him to fully address their concerns. Gary Labao of Migrante NY expressed support for the President, especially his pronouncement that working abroad should be “optional and not a necessity” through the creation of jobs in the Philippines.

Labao pointed out that the only solution to the economic problems of the Philippines is to implement genuine national industrialization and genuine land reform to end the vicious cycle of “import-dependency and export oriented” economic orientation. National industrialization can create more jobs at home and put a stop to the Filipinos going abroad as export products for human labor and slavery to other nations.

The SONA ng Bayan took place as the first follow-up event to the New York “People’s Summit,” a community forum of local Filipinos that took place in Queens on Sunday, July 10. The Summit discussed the national situation of the Philippines and presented the People’s Agenda for Change. Participants discussed their own conditions as overseas Filipinos in the United States and identified issues that they would like addressed, ranging from free education for youth and students to pension assistance and genuine representation for migrant workers. The group resolved to hold the Duterte government accountable to its promises through continued advocacy and education.

With more than 30,000 people at the SONA ng Bayan march outside Batasang Pambansa and numerous SONA ng Bayan events outside the Philippines like the New York rally, the Filipino people are vigilantly optimistic for peace and unity in the Philippines. As President Duterte said in his State of the Nation Address, “All of us want peace, not the peace of the dead, but the peace of the living.” The path to such a just and lasting peace will not be easy and it will require the help of all Filipinos–whether at home or abroad–to come together and ensure that the administration truly serves the interests of the people.

To learn more about the People’s Agenda for Change and how to get involved, contact bayanusa.ne@gmail.com, like BAYAN USA Northeast on Facebook, and visit www.bayanusanortheast.org!

Julie-Jamora-Photo_BAYAN-USA-NE_SONA-ng-BAYAN_DSC_3168_LR
Demonstrators welcome Duterte’s first SONA in Woodside, Queens (PC: Julie Jamora)
People's Agenda for Change
Demonstrators call for the full implementation of the People’s Agenda for Change (PC: Julie Jamora)
ABNJ Impe Tableaux
Cultural performance by Anakbayan NJ depicts the struggle of the indigenous Lumad against US imperialism (PC: Julie Jamora)
VIJOU PERFORM
GABRIELA NY’s Vijou Bryant performs a rap calling for the release of all political prisoners (PC: Julie Jamora)

 

Last “Independence” Day for Outgoing President B.S. Aquino, Struggle for Genuine Freedom Continues Under Incoming Duterte Administration

For Immediate Release
June 12, 2016

Reference:
Nina Macapinlac, BAYAN USA Northeast Regional Coordinator
bayanusa.ne@gmail.com

Last “Independence” Day for Outgoing President B.S. Aquino, Struggle for Genuine Freedom Continues Under Incoming Duterte Administration

Last “Independence” Day for Outgoing President B.S. Aquino, Struggle for Genuine Freedom Continues Under Incoming Duterte Administration (1)

NEW YORK – President Benigno S. Aquino delivered his last “Independence” Day speech in Malacañang Palace this past weekend to a country that was never truly free. On the occasion of the 118th anniversary of the Philippines’s sham independence from Spain, BAYAN USA Northeast commemorates the ongoing struggle of the Filipino people for genuine democracy and freedom from imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism. The alliance calls on all compatriots and allies to strengthen this struggle by holding the Aquino administration accountable for its outright failure and crimes against the people, and ensuring that the incoming administration of Rodrigo Duterte implements its promises of social and economic reforms.

In his “Independence” Day speech, Aquino said that he “kept all [his] promises” to the Filipino people who were his “Boss.” Aquino claimed that education access improved among young people during his administration and that “citizens who were once caught in the crossfire are now on the brink of peace.” He boasted that under his rule, the Philippine economy was transformed from the “Sick Man of Asia” to the “Darling of Asia.” But as Aquino’s track record shows, these statements are empty lies. In fact, the state of education in the Philippines worsened with the implementation of K to 12. The addition of two years to senior high school will increase joblessness and depress wages of young workers because the majority of senior high schools are private and most families cannot afford an extra two years of education, signaling an increase in dropouts. Militarization and counterinsurgency intensified under Aquino’s administration, which has fueled multiple massacres against peasant and indigenous peoples and displaced thousands of people especially on the island of Mindanao. The economic growth that Aquino boasts only benefited a small elite group of wealthy families while income inequality continues to widen and more people are impoverished.

Aquino’s false promises is built on more than a century’s worth of bourgeois treachery. Like his earliest predecessor Emilio Aguinaldo, who sold out the Philippine revolution to the Spanish colonizers for P400,000, Aquino is a traditional politician whose class interest in wealth and power will always win out over the interests of the people. Like Aguinaldo, Aquino is a puppet of foreign imperialists and has excelled at serving the interests of US imperialism by tightening its stranglehold on the Philippines militarily, economically, and politically. Aquino will be remembered as the Philippine president who further entrenched US military presence in the country by administering unequal military agreements like the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and officially bringing the US bases back to the country after more than two decades since they were kicked out.

As the Philippines anticipates the inauguration of Rodrigo Duterte on June 30, BAYAN USA Northeast is optimistic about the presumptive president’s willingness in resuming peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, as well as his promises to push various social and economic reforms. BAYAN USA Northeast commends the presumptive president’s declaration that the Philippines will “not be dependent on the United States,” signaling a shift from a historically unflinching adherence to US foreign policy. Towards this positive goal of an independent foreign policy, Duterte should also take steps to terminate all unequal military agreements with the US like EDCA and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), as well as halt the re-implementation of US military bases in the country.

In the same way that the Filipino people continued to fight despite the betrayal of Aguinaldo and the handing over of power from Spain to the United States, so too will the Filipino people continue to fight in the era of Duterte for self-determination and genuine independence. The alliance holds no illusion that the basic character of Philippine society as a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country beholden to US imperialist interests will change upon Duterte’s ascent to power. Only mass movement and collective action will ensure accountability from the US-Aquino regime, the full implementation of Duterte’s proposed reforms, and the assertion of national sovereignty through an independent pro-people foreign policy.

The masses of people who seated Duterte in Malacañang during the elections will be the determining force in accomplishing genuine democracy and liberation in the Philippines. History has proven this to be true time and time again. The people were responsible for expelling the Spanish from the Philippines, not Emilio Aguinaldo. The people were responsible for ending Martial Law, not the Aquino family. And on this 118th year of sham independence, the people will be decisive once again in ending dependence on foreign powers and forging the future of the Philippines.

JUNK VFA! JUNK EDCA!
DOWN WITH US IMPERIALISM!
FIGHT FOR NATIONAL LIBERATION!
###

U.S. Out of the Philippines Now! Indigenous Lumad Leaders and Filipino Community Protest Militarization and Human Rights Violations in Mindanao

For Immediate Release
May 24, 2016

Reference:
Nina Macapinlac, BAYAN USA Northeast Regional Coordinator
bayanusa.ne@gmail.com

U.S. Out of the Philippines Now! Indigenous Lumad Leaders and Filipino Community Protest Militarization and Human Rights Violations in Mindanao

IMG_4172Kerlan Fanagel, spokesperson of Lakbay Lumad USA, giving a speech on the struggles of the Lumad and importance of supporting people’s resistance in Mindanao

NEW YORK — Today, the Filipino American community joined with indigenous Lumad leaders and allies in a rally outside the Armed Forces Recruiting Station in Times Square to protest the continued U.S. militarization in the Philippines, especially in the southernmost island of Mindanao. As part of a national day of action to commemorate the 17th anniversary of the Philippines-U.S. Visiting Forces Agreement, the rally was also held on the last day of a historic national speaking tour called Lakbay Lumad USA, or “Lumad Journey USA.” Protesters highlighted and condemned the role that the United States has played in intensifying militarization, state repression, and human rights violations against the indigenous communities of Mindanao.

Made up of 18 ethnolinguistic tribes, “Lumad” is the umbrella term for indigenous peoples in Mindanao who have suffered the brunt of military occupation, intimidation, and forced displacement in the Philippines. To shed light on the struggles of the Lumad people, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) launched a campaign to “Stop Lumad Killings. Save Our Schools. Protect Indigenous Life.”  As the highlight of this campaign, Lakbay Lumad USA is made up of indigenous Lumad leaders from all across Mindanao who have traveled throughout the United States since April to demand accountability from the administration of Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino and challenge the president-elect and Mindanao-native Rodrigo Duterte to end the impunity of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and its paramilitary troops. Having traveled through the Pacific Northwest, Midwest, and the West Coast, the Lumad delegates ended their tour with today’s protest rally to make clear that the harsh conditions back home are not isolated incidents, but are actually facilitated by U.S. military and economic policies funded by U.S. taxpayers.

The Land of Promise – and Profit

Mindanao, the island on which the Lumad live, has one of the most resource-rich land in the Philippines, if not the world. With an estimated $1 trillion worth of untapped mineral resources, Mindanao has been the target of many multinational mining, logging, and plantation corporations. Covered with 500,000 hectares of mining concessions, Mindanao has seen a boom in large-scale mining since the Philippine government passed the Mining Act of 1995, effectively liberalizing the country’s mining sector. To defend their land and livelihood, Lumad and peasant communities in Mindanao have organized themselves and escalated resistance against this incursion. To protect the interests of foreign capital and systematically quell resistance, the Philippine government and the AFP launched a counterinsurgency program called Oplan Bayanihan and deployed over 60% of the country’s armed forces to Mindanao. “This [deployment] means [AFP] are in the community. They stay with families with one room,”  said Kerlan Fanagel, spokesperson of Lakbay Lumad USA. “And everyday they have interrogations of communities. They kill our leaders … and they always have a license to kill us.”

As a consequence of this these trumped-up charges, intimidation, and extrajudicial killings by the AFP and their paramilitary forces, entire mountain communities have been forced to evacuate their homes all across Mindanao. On September 1st, 2016, over three thousand Lumad from northeastern Mindanao evacuated their communities after paramilitary forces killed three community leaders and educators. In another incident, the Philippine National Police (PNP) violently dispersed protesting peasant and Lumad farmers in Kidapawan, Mindanao, who were demanding relief aid after months of famine–resulting in the deaths of several farmers and arrest and disappearance of dozens more. Up to this day, Philippine military and paramilitary forces are occupying and destroying schools and communities of the Lumad who are defending their right to education and protecting their indigenous culture and livelihood from devastation by corporate mining and logging.

The Role of the United States

The United States has played a big role in undermining the self-determination and economic power of the Philippines, imposing ever-worsening hardship and poverty on society’s most marginalized sectors–particularly peasants and indigenous peoples. To ensure its hegemony and influence in developing countries like the Philippines, the U.S. works closely with national security forces like the AFP to safeguard trade routes and and access to markets.

In the past year, the United States increased its military aid to the Philippines from $50 million to $79 million, under the guise of “assisting” the Philippines in the midst of rising tensions with China. However, BAYAN USA-Northeast recognizes foreign military aid as a tool of imperialism and condemns U.S. warmongering against China as a distraction from its own imperialist advances in the Asia Pacific region. By funding the AFP, the U.S. is strengthening counterinsurgency initiatives like Oplan Bayanihan and enabling the continuation of human rights violations against Lumad community leaders and activists.

Additionally, unequal military agreements like the VFA and its successor the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) have served as the basis for increased U.S. intervention in the Philippines. These agreements allowed for the indefinite permanent presence of at least 660 U.S. Special Operations Forces in Mindanao; dozens of annual war games with thousands of foreign troops on Philippine soil and in Philippine waters; unlimited free docking and travel through Philippine land, ports, and airspace; and even the return of the U.S. bases to the country this year. The increased presence of U.S. military forces and their assistance in counterinsurgency efforts create even more favorable conditions for the ongoing oppression of the Lumad people and all Filipinos resisting imperialist advances in Mindanao.

Peace with Justice

BAYAN USA Northeast calls on the international community to stand alongside the Lumad people in their fight for food, land, and justice.

More than half of U.S. taxpayers’ money goes towards military spending, effectively financing the human rights crisis in Mindanao. By calling for an end to U.S. military aid to the Philippines, U.S. residents can play a big role in strengthening the campaign to stop Lumad killings and protect indigenous life. The international community must also call for an end to unequal military agreements like the VFA and EDCA, which undermine the sovereignty of the Philippines and facilitate human rights violations against leaders and activists who are defending their communities.

BAYAN USA Northeast recognizes that the oppression and resistance of the Lumad people are reflective of the conditions of Philippine society as a whole. “This is not just the struggle of indigenous people but of the whole Philippines,” said Fanagel. “And not just the whole Philippines but of all human beings who have visions of peace, justice, and solidarity.” By struggling for genuine freedom from foreign domination and asserting their right to self-determination, the Lumad are modeling the type of resistance necessary to accomplish a just and lasting peace in the Philippines and in countries around the world. Only by fighting for a government that attends to the basic needs of the people will genuine peace with justice be possible.

U.S. out of the Philippines NOW!
End Militarization! Junk VFA! Junk EDCA!
Stop Lumad Killings! Save Our Schools!
Fight for Food, Land & Justice in Mindanao!

###

IMG_4188Berna Ellorin, Chairperson of BAYAN USA, gives a closing speech on the importance of being in unity with the struggles of the Lumad

IMG_4218

Lakbay Lumad delegation at Times Square Armed Forces Recruiting Station to cap off a six-week tour across the United States

Bakwit Diaries: an exposurist living with Lumad evacuees

by Theresa Endoso, Anakbayan NY

In Tandag City, Surigao del Sur, Caraga, Mindanao, Philippines, I lived in an evacuation camp or “bakwit” for three months with Lumad (indigenous) evacuees forcibly displaced by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)’s 75th infantry battalion and its paramilitary, the Magahat Bagani.

International and Philippine mining companies with international investors and shareholders are behind these militarized and extrajudicial killings and evacuations of Lumad peoples.

It was 3 months in bakwit but a lifetime of lessons where I developed lifelong relationships and a lifelong commitment to serving the Lumad struggle for self-determination. 

12694811_10208792851682189_1954168447883336924_o

Overlooking bakwit. Not pictured are the bleachers that circle the sports complex, also overcrowded with makeshift tents.

From the Lumad elders, leaders, youth, students, activists, children and the staff of both the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) and the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), I learned firsthand the principles and practices necessary to be an effective member in revolutionary organizing.

IMG_1894
Students of ALCADEV practice traditional ceremony and dance for their Values Education curriculum.
IMG_1874
Students of ALCADEV perform traditional Lumad dance at a solidarity night in bakwit.
IMG_1895
ALCADEV students in bakwit have very limited access to school supplies, but take diligent notes and try to keep notebooks clean in their wet and muddy “dorm” tents which function also as makeshift classrooms.

 

The incredible will power, the perseverance of the Lumad people is rooted in love: love for the natural environment, the rich ancestral domain and one’s community. Family, land, culture, and history are all bound by this deep love.

IMG_1886

ALCADEV students take a study break in their “dormitory” tent, exhausted from the brutal heat and noise of bakwit. But how they love one another! The sweetest of teens.

 

Love in Lumad communities is active, collective, and militant. It is revolutionary. Love is what unifies different villages and even tribes. Love is what gives the people undying strength to face such dismal challenges from militarization to massacre to displacement and surviving the conditions of bakwit.

Education in Lumad communities is one of the deepest expressions of this love. Community schools of TRIFPSS and ALCADEV are the heart, the pride, the promise of the Lumad struggle.

IMG_1881

ALCADEV students perform modern choreography to express the plight of their people and the unity of comrades. (This was at a special solidarity night put together for me on my last night in bakwit. Most memorable evening of my life.)

 

12813968_10208995188340479_6044547671556878774_n
Children find new ways to make beds for the night. Here they are sleepping on a wood plank used as a makeshift chalkboard for TRIFPSS classes. The already limited resources like plastic potato sacks for cots, tarps, and bamboo become so worn and torn from the climate and unsanitary conditions, that bedding becomes limited.
IMG_1880
Students perform their 5 AM daily chores, including cleaning up the trash around bakwit.

 

The Lumad children are consciously and actively concerned about the next generation. We often hold this expectation to elders, but for children to be so invested in the well-being of the land and future generation is incredible. In drastic contrast to Western values and socialized ideas of success, the children’s aspirations center on community empowerment, as opposed to individual gain. These principles are inherently embedded in the cultural fabric, but are especially encouraged in the community schools.

12744760_10208924729939063_1675380746723188267_n
ALCADEV students working on miniature houses or “mga balay” for their Technology and Home Economics class.
IMG_1891
ALCADEV students and their teacher varnish baskets woven out of wild rattan, income generating products (IGPs) created by practiced Lumad artisans in evacuation.
IMG_1875
ALCADEV students working on miniature houses or “mga balay” for their Technology and Home Economics class.

 

The Lumad youth are incredibly empowered by the culturally relevant education they receive in their own schools. For these schools to be shut down by militarization and government oppression would mean ethnocide, an entire livelihood of indigeneity threatened.

 

IMG_1866
ALCADEV students participating in a workshop and lesson I created for them. These opportunities allowed the students to continue to teach me Bisaya and Manobo languages and for me to continue to tutor English language.
12764408_10208966187415474_8213914027490459283_o
ALCADEV students focusing on a lesson plan despite the harsh and distracting environment. Uncomfortable, but motivated!

 

The living conditions of bakwit are simply not fit for living. There is neither sufficient food nor water and illnesses are rampant from UTI’s, ulcers, asthma, fever, flu, cold, allergic reactions to bakwit diet, and much more serious illnesses as well. 

Most days, the public water supply (needed especially for cleaning the public bathroom and washing away waste) runs out first thing in the morning after being rationed amongst families. So, there is not enough to meet all the needs of bathing, drinking, washing clothes, washing dishes, cooking, and bathroom use. The bakwit is overcrowded which makes cooking, sleeping, studying, and teaching very difficult.

12764318_10208966188935512_4487823325209817410_o
A baby plays in an empty water basin. We called her “kulot” or “curly.” Her mama always invited me to sit in their tent and rest from the hot sun.
12772034_10208885962849910_1436180162494592377_o
Children playing next to an empty Red Cross water dispenser.
12747400_10208925118468776_8854093615217705072_o 2
An ALCADEV student prepares a dinner of fish for her classmates. Most meals in bakwit consist only of rice, instant noodles, cans of sardines. Fish is a special occasion, a donation from an organization, church, or other visitors to bakwit.

Lumad community schools not only pass on the rich culture of their respective tribes, but provide the tools necessary in asserting self-efficiency and self-determination.

Literacy alone helps to ensure that Lumads will not be insidiously misled into signing away their entitled ancestral land rights. But these schools offer so much more than any Department of Education school could. Each subject is tailored to relate to the everyday lives (farming) and political climates of the Lumads.

12371246_10208925002265871_7801335074777473930_o
Drumming on a donated agong while children dance together.
12792338_10208924915063691_3474879985732966107_o
ALCADEV students rehearse Lumad dance
IMG_1877
“Boys dorm.” Making traditional beaded bracelets
IMG_1868
ALCADEV students getting ready to dance at a solidarity night hosted by the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), a progressive church dedicated to serving the political struggle of the Lumads.

The Lumads have friends in local government, churches of many faiths, political organizations, environmentalists, academics, activists and many other communities and individuals who recognize the severity of the situation and the intrinsic value of the Lumad livelihood and its legacy. However, it is not enough.

MORE and STRONGER international support is VITAL in securing the safety and respect of rights of the Lumads across Mindanao.

 

12764493_10208925126948988_5661235705455299566_o
A drawing by teachers of TRIFPSS of their homes and schools that they long for every day while in evacuation.