VIEWFINDER: Arian Nu Muddulo (You Are Not Welcome)

This month marks the 72nd anniversary of the signing of the Mutual Defense Treaty between the Philippines and the United States of America. The agreement has been opposed by patriots such as Claro M. Recto, Lorenzo Tanada and Jose W. Diokno as a surrender of Philippine patrimony and sovereignty.

Seventy-seven years after the country’s supposed independence from the US, the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government agreed to the establishment of four more sites under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) where American soldiers could operate to continue its military and imperialistic dominance in the Western Pacific region.

In this Kodao Viewfinder report, watch how a province in Northern Philippines opposes the decision to have two more US military sites in their home. ARIAN NU MADDULO [You Are Not Welcome] is a look at how the usually welcoming people of Cagayan resists the coming of United States of America forces to their province. Aside from not being consulted in the decision to build two new EDCA sites in two of their towns, they oppose becoming pawns in a conflict between imperialist powers.

This video may also be viewed on Cinemata:

Makabayan solon, DND condemn Chinese envoy’s threat against OFWs in Taiwan

A Makabayan solon and the Department of National Defense (DND) separately condemned an alleged threat made by Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian against Filipinos in Taiwan.

House of Representative Deputy Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Party Rep. France Castro said Huang’s statement is a threat and an imposition on a sovereign country.

“It is condemnable that China seems to be issuing a threat not just against the Philippines as a country but to innocent overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were obligated to work abroad to create better lives for their families,” Castro said in a statement Saturday, April 15.

In a public speech Friday, the Chinese envoy said, the “Philippines is advised to unequivocally oppose Taiwan independence rather than stoking the fire by offering the US access to the military bases near the Taiwan Strait if you care genuinely about the 150,000 OFWs.”

“The Taiwan question is entirely China’s internal affair, as is the Mindanao issue to the Philippines. You will never allow any third party to meddle with resolving rebel issues in Mindanao,” Huang said.

This did not sit well with the progressive solon who said Huang’s statement must be condemned.

The DND in a separate statement took exception to Huang’s assertion the Philippines is “meddling” in Chinese internal affairs concerning Taiwan.

DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said the Philippines’ primary concern regarding the heated situation between China and Taiwan are the expatriate Filipinos in the island.

Pique at new EDCA sites

While it appears to directly threaten Filipino workers in Taiwan, Huang’s speech was in fact obviously directed at the Philippine government’s decision to open four new military sites the for United States military to be closer to China.

“Obviously, the US intends to take advantage of the new EDCA sites to interfere in the situation across the Taiwan strait to serve its geopolitical goals, and advance its anti-China agenda at the expense of peace and development of the Philippines and the region at large,” Huang said.

The Chinese Ambassador also likened the situation in Taiwan to Mindanao, implying that China does not meddle with Moro independence struggles in Southern Philippines. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

EDCA live fire drills terrorize Nueva Ecija communities, Gabriela reports

Int’l rights group condemns arrest of anti-war exercise activists

The first day of the Balikatan war exercises between the Philippine military and the United States, Japan, Australia and United Kingdom is bringing terror and fear to affected communities, a national alliance of women reported.

As the 17,600 combined local and foreign troops started their military exercises in Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites across the country, residents in some affected communities fear leaving their homes for fear of being hit by live fire drills, Gabriela reported.

“In Nueva Ecija, residents expressed concern over explosions from last week beginning in the tail end of March. These explosions are usually heard at night, around 11pm, from the adjacent EDCA site in Fort Magsaysay,” the group said in a statement.

The live fire drills have been a source of concern for people’s mobility and their ability to safely seek their livelihoods, added Gabriela secretary general Clarice Palce.

Palce said the sounds of bombs and grenades going off keep families, especially children, awake at night.

“These explosions cause intense mental and emotional distress and anxiety in the affected communities. Further, these LFXs (live fire exercises) and military operations are major wildlife stressors and leave toxic waste behind. Alarmingly, the impoverished condition of our farmers is aggravated by these exercises,” Palce lamented.

Palce’s group said they have no doubt that the coming days will only bring more fear and suffering for Filipinos, including increased incidents of prostitution, among women and members of the LGBTQ+ community, who due to extreme poverty are driven into the plague of prostitution with the surrounding US military as their biggest “Johns”.

“Our fear is that with this biggest Balikatan yet, we will see even more Jennifer Laudes, more Vanessas and Nicoles, who have become victims of abuse from US soldiers and to this day are deprived of justice,” Palce said.

Laude had been brutally murdered by a US Marine while “Vanessa” and “Nicole” complained of being raped by American soldiers who were in the Philippines as part of its government’s military agreements with the US.

Anti-EDCA activists arrested

Meanwhile, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) condemned the arrest of student activists who protested the ongoing war exercises as it started yesterday, Tuesday.

“[ICHRP] condemns the unlawful arrest of student leaders Gabriel Magtibay, chairperson of the Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND UP), and Joanne Pagkalinawan of the Far Eastern University during a lightning rally in front of the United States Embassy in Manila in the early morning of April 11,” said Peter Murphy, ICHRP Global Council Chairperson said in a statement.

Four paralegals who rushed to assist the arrested students were also nabbed by the Manila Police District, but were later released.

Magtibay and Pagkalinawan are being charged with illegal assembly, vandalism, and resisting arrest by the police.

“The arrest of student activists participating in a peaceful demonstration clearly violates their right to freedom of assembly. This is stipulated in international human rights covenants ratified by the Philippines, such as Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” Murphy said.

“The protest action was justified as it defends the Philippines’ right to national sovereignty, a basic human right. Participating in the Balikatan Exercises will only drag the Philippines into the worsening US-China tensions and will likely result in more violations of the rights of the Filipino people,” Murphy added.

ICHRP said the joint military exercise is widely seen as a provocative act by the US against China, as it includes military exercises planned with other countries in the First Island Chain – Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Militants hold rally at SC vs EDCA

As the Philippine Supreme Court is about to release its ruling on the petition to declare the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the United States of America and Philippine government unconstitutional, petitioners belonging to the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan staged a rally in front of the Court to reiterate their opposition to foreign military presence in the country.

Here is a video report of the event.