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:

DC police arrests 4 Fil-Am activists at ‘lavish’ Marcos dinner

By Nuel M. Bacarra

Another picket protest hounded a dinner organized for Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos Jr., his party, and Filipino billionaires at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Washington DC last Tuesday, leading to the arrest of four Filipino-American activists.

Continuing their series of rallies against the president’s official visit to the United States, activists chanted “Marcos is not welcome here!” both inside and outside the Fiola Mare restaurant where Marcos was set to dine with billionaires Enrique Razon Jr., Lance Gokongwei and Sabin Aboitiz.

House of Representatives Speaker Martian Romualdez and former Philippine president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo were among the president’s party to the dinner.

The four activists chanting their slogans inside the restaurant were the ones arrested by the police, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-USA (BAYAN-USA) said.

The four has since been released from jail, Kodao sources said.

The group refused to disclose the names of the arrested activists, saying they were so advised by their lawyers.

Anakbayan-USA said those arrested are their members. The group has since launched an online appeal for donations for their defense.

In a statement, Anakbayan-USA said it salutes its members “for facing off against the cowardly and fascist US-backed Marcos II regime.”

“Anakbayan USA condemns the arrests of four, brave Anakbayan members after rightfully disrupting an excessive and lavish dinner between President Marcos, his cabinet secretaries, and some of the Philippines’ richest billionaires,” the group said.

The Marcoses are the ones who should be arrested, the youth group added.

Malaya Movement’s Julie Jamora said the police arrested the wrong persons.

“If you want to arrest someone, arrest the thieves inside. The only reason Marcos was not detained when he stepped foot inside this country is because of diplomatic immunity,” Jallora told the police during the rally.

Marcos Jr. and his mother Imelda were held in contempt by a US court in 1995 for “contumacious conduct causing direct harm to [a class of human rights victims].”

The continuing contempt offense already amounted to US$353 million in 2011.

Marcos Jr.’s ongoing visit is his first in decades, allowed by diplomatic immunity that he gained after assuming the presidency in 2022. # (with reports from RB Villanueva)

Fil-Am activists hound Marcos Jr.; accuse President of putting PH in crossfire of war

Filipino-American activists hounded President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. who is in Washington DC for an official visit, protesting the Philippine government’s military deals with the United States of America (USA).

Staging rallies at the White House and at the posh Ritz-Carlton Hotel where Marcos had dinner with some members of the Filipino community in the American capital, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-USA said the President’s visit signifies the “further selling out of the Philippines.”

The activists said Marcos’ visit are to secure deals to further enrich those in power and expand US military presence throughout the archipelago.

Marcos’ visit came at the heels of the biggest war games between the two countries and the approval of four additional US military sites under an expanded Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

In a statement, BAYAN-USA said additional US military presence in Cagayan, Isabela, and Palawan provinces “will only put the Filipino people in more danger of being in the crossfires of war.”

Both governments have earlier denied that the new EDCA sites and the biggest war exercises between the two countries in history is connected with the Chinese government’s aggressive military actions in the region.

On his way to the United States, Marcos stated: “We will not encourage any provocative action that will involve the Philippines by any other country… We will not allow the Philippines to be used as a staging post for any kind of military action.”

BAYAN USA in return asked, “Have you not read the provisions of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement? Prepositioning equipment is clearly and has historically been part of war preparation.”

The group added that no assurances made by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs nor statements from Marcos that the president is allowing the country to be used as a staging post for war.

“The Filipino people must not allow this to continue,” the group added.

‘Ironclad military alliance’

In their White House meeting Monday, US President Joseph Biden reaffirmed US’ “ironclad alliance” commitments to the Philippines, “underscoring that an armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the Pacific, including the South China Sea, would invoke his country’s mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1952 US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty.

Both leaders also affirmed the importance of maintaining “peace and stability” across the Taiwan Strait following heightened military tensions between the Republic of China and the People’s Democratic Republic of China.  

Biden and Marcos also talked about economic development, environmental protection, human rights, the war in Eastern Europe, among other mutual concerns.

With Marcos in his visit were former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, House of Representatives Speaker Martin Romualdez, eight Cabinet secretaries, First Lady Marie Louise Marcos and Rep, Zandro Marcos. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

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)

Fil-Am activists condemn high level US-PH meeting they say undermines Philippine sovereignty

By Nuel M. Bacarra

Filipino-American activists belonging to the United States of America, District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia chapter of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and its member organizations condemned the high-level meeting earlier this week between US and Philippine cabinet secretaries they said further undermines Philippine sovereignty.

In a statement, the activists said the meeting purported “to reaffirm the United States commitment to (its) alliance with the Philippines which has contributed to peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region for more than 70 years,” was meant to bolster the ongoing US-led war games that started on that day in the Philippines.

The group also condemned the addition of four new Enhance Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites in the Philippines widely seen as a containment maneuver against Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea.

“The four new locations… indicate a considerable motive for the US to intervene in the country and intimidate China. The amplified scale of the Balikatan exercises also aligns with accelerated motions to provoke China before actual combat ensues,” BAYAN-USA-DMV said.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III met with Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo and Philippine Department of National Defense officer in charge Carlito Galvez Jr. in a ministerial dialogue that discussed Indo-Pacific security, Philippine military modernization, economic and environmental security and alliance partnerships.

DFA Secretary Manalo said, “We especially welcome the United States pledge to fast-track and to ramp up support for the modernization of our defense, civilian law enforcement and humanitarian assistance and disaster response capabilities, especially in the maritime domain, as well as the implementation of EDCA projects and investments in and around EDCA-agreed locations.”

BAYAN-USA-DMV however said the event was only meant to justify the Balikatan military exercises that see a 140% increase in US military presence in the Philippines involving 12,000 US forces, 5,000 Filipinos and 111 forces from Australia.

The group added that US support to the Philippines uses US taxpayers’ dollars in arming and funding of the Philippine military and police known for gross human rights violations, including the indiscriminate bombings in Mindanao, in Negros, military encampments on indigenous and farmer communities and the massacre of human rights and peace advocates, activists and environmental defenders.

More groups abroad oppose war games

The International League of Peoples’ Struggles-Hong Kong and Macau held a protest rally against EDCA last April 11. (Provided photo)

The group Malaya Movement in New York called for the junking of “unequal military agreements” between the US and the Philippines because as “ineffective and unnecessary” as well as contradictory to Philippines sovereignty and the interests of the Filipino people.

“[T]here is no doubt that [the Balikatan] is a military build up to war in Asia Pacific…meant to provoke China and to stoke the flames of world war,” the group said.

International League of Peoples’ Struggle – Hong Kong and Macau also condemned “US military’s intervention in the Philippines undermining our national sovereignty under the pretext of its humanitarian assistance and disaster response propaganda.”

“We denounce the move of the US government to undermine our national sovereignty through the EDCA additional sites and the Balikatan exercises. We demand the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement,” the group in a statement said.

“The Balikatan exercises are not beneficial to the Filipino people. The funds allotted for the war games should instead be used to resolve more worthwhile concerns such as hunger and poverty, failing health and education services. War games are costly in financial terms while entailing massive environmental destruction. It breeds human rights abuses, corruption in the military and intensifies local conflict,” it added. # (with reports from 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)

Groups protest in US and HK on Women’s Day

Women’s organizations held a protest march against “imperialism, militarism and exploitation” at the World Bank and the White House in Washington DC days before International Women’s Day last Saturday, March 4.

Led by the International Women’s Alliance (IWA) and grassroots Filipino group Gabriela-USA, hundreds of protesters called to place “women over profit” and to expose the “continuing impact of US imperialism on the Filipino people.”

The protesters began their rally before the World Bank, accusing the international organization of aiding “global suppression through foreign aid that perpetuates national debts.”

Before the White House, the protesters demanded the end of US intervention in countries abroad such as the Philippines, accusing its government of funding militarism abroad instead of social services such as education.

“This country claims to be a beacon of freedom and democracy, while locking children in cages and forcing families to be separated!” Gabriela-USA said.

IWA’s Katie Comfort said the situation of women throughout the world calls for their unity of women, urging their ranks to organize further.

“Women are uniting around the world against US imperialism and [women in the] the US [have] to be a part of that movement,” Comfort said.  

Also on Saturday, IWA launched its campaign “Meet Women’s Needs; Stop Corporate Greed” in a conference that seeks to address the failings of the US government to meet the needs of women and their families. 

The march was also participated in by Terrapin Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (TerpCHRP) Palestinian Youth Movement, Katarungan DC, CODEPINK, United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), Committee in Solidarity of the People of El Salvador (CISPES), Anti-Imperialist Action at University of Maryland Baltimore County, International League of Peoples Struggles (ILPS), African National Women’s Organization, and Resist U.S. Led War.

Gabriela-HK calls for protection of OFWs

In Hong Kong, Gabriela’s chapter in the Chinese territory protested against the Philippine government’s continuing labor export program on International Women’s Day 2023.

“Instead of creating decent jobs with living wages in the Philippines as a solution to the worsening poverty we experience, the Marcos Jr-Duterte administration only intensifies the peddling of our Filipino women and men as cheap labor commodities overseas,” Gabriela Hong Kong chairperson Shiela Tebia-Bonifacio said in a statement.

Bonifacio said the Philippine government refuses to learn from a growing number of violations committed against the rights, dignity and lives of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) despite incidents such as the gruesome death of Jullebee Ranaro in Kuwait earlier this year.

“While it was forced to respond to the demands for justice for Ranaro’s death, the Philippine government remains lacking when it comes to championing OFW rights, welfare and dignity,” Bonifacio said.

Bonifacio also cited the non-response of the Philippine government and even the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong over the racist comment of Hong Kong legislator Elizabeth Quat describing women migrant domestic workers as a mere “product”.

Gabriela Hong Kong also condemned the government for attacking and labelling as terrorists the many migrant organizations and leaders critical of the government’s programs.
“Clearly, the current regime of President Marcos only aims to continue the legacy left by his father, the ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos – ensuring the suffering of the Filipino women and men through its exploitative and oppressive policies,” the group said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

On more US troops deployment in the Philippines

“The US is becoming more aggressive now in sending cadres to oversee the military of its allies and neo-colonies is no accident. What we are seeing is both an aggressive economic thrust in the form of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and a military show of force in the region, which most recently involved Japan in a security triad with the US and the Philippines.”—Clarice Palce, GABRIELA secretary general

Farm workers oppose more US military facilities in the country

UMA: Increased US presence means more war, human rights violations, economic plunder

A federation of farm workers expressed fears that the establishment of more United States (US) military facilities in the country would give rise to more war, human rights violations and foreign economic plunder in the Philippines.

Following reports of aerial bombings in Hacienda Intal in Baggao, Cagayan last February 2, the Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) said it is alarmed that US troops would not only encourage “state terrorism”, they may even participate in military operations that inevitably affect farming communities.

“Bukod sa dinadawit tayo ng US sa mga gerang hindi atin at taliwas sa pambansang interes ng Pilipinas, gagamitin din ito ng mga imperyalista para sulsulan ang estado na lalong supilin, atakihin, at dahasin ang sarili nating mga kababayan,” UMA chairperson John Milton Lozande said.

(Aside from dragging us into wars that are not ours and are against Philippine national interest, the imperialists would use these military bases to persuade the government to suppress, attack, and commit violence against our people.)

Both already heavily-militarized, the northern Cagayan and Isabela provinces are among the sites where four new US military facilities would be built following a recent agreement made between US Defense Secretary John Lloyd Austin III and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the former’s recent official visit to the country.

Zambales and Palawan, both facing the West Philippine Sea, are the two other provinces.

Five US Joint Special Operations Task Forces groups are currently operating inside Armed Forces of the Philippine camps as part of Operation Pacific Eagle-Philippines program, which would be increased to nine should the agreement push through.

Austin’s visit coincided with bombing operations conducted by the Tactical Operation Group 2 of the Philippine Air Force while the 501st Infantry Battallion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) conducted ground military operations at Sitio Birao, Barangay Hacienda Intal of Baggao last February 2.

The operations followed a gunfight between the 95th IBPA and communist fighters under the Henry Abraham Command of the New People’s Army.

Both sides reported no casualties in the incident.

Bombo Radyo-Tuguegarao reported that 149 families of 272 civilians were forced to evacuate due to the operations and bombings.

Meanwhile, Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba expressed his opposition to the establishment of foreign military facilities in his province.

He said in a radio interview that Cagayan Province does not need to be a site for new US military operations in the country.

‘Economic plunder’

Aside from threats posed by more soldiers in farming communities, UMA said increased US military presence also means that the foreign country wants to maintain its dominance on mining and plantation businesses in the Philippines.

Lozande said that through land monopoly, US corporations have long extracted raw materials from the Philippines for their industries, holding back the Philippines’ own industrialization.

“Lands that ought to be devoted to domestic food production…were held hostage by a plantation system equally beholden to corporate interests, churning out high-value crops in demand in the US-dominated world market rather than yielding food staples like rice,” Lozande added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP condemns US ‘warmongering’ in Ukraine

Tension in Eastern Europe propels PH oil prices sky high

The Philippine Left blames the United States of America for the escalating tension in Eastern Europe as several North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-member countries announced the first wave of sanctions against the Russian Federation following its recognition of two regions in Ukraine as “independent”.

In a statement, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said the US is provoking Russia by pushing for Ukraine’s inclusion into NATO and by taking measures to oppose the commercial operations of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines.

Russia considers Ukraine’s NATO inclusion a “red line” as it would allow the US and its military allies to position troops, tanks, missiles and other military matériel right next to its border, the CPP said.

“Russia fears that the inclusion of Ukraine into the NATO, which is being compared to Mexico joining a Chinese- or Russian-led alliance, will reinforce the US network of military bases in its state of Alaska, in Poland, Romania and other countries close to the Russian border,” the group revealed.

War and oil, again

The CPP said that to further provoke Russia, the US has been opposing Nord Stream 2, a natural gas pipeline that is capable of transporting twice the amount that is currently being supplied by Russia to Germany, France, Italy and the rest of western Europe.

The group said that the US demands that Europe buy US shale oil and thus favor American fracking interests, going as far as arm-twisting Germany to turn back on its contracts with Russia.

The CPP said that Russia’s positioning of tanks and an estimated 100,000 troops in its western borders with Ukraine, as well as in the southern borders of Belarus are clearly part of Russia’s political and diplomatic tactics to oppose moves for Ukraine’s inclusion into the NATO and seal its agreements for the operation of the Nord Stream 2.

“Russia is pushing for renewed negotiations to reaffirm previous agreements surrounding the Donbass region, explicit prohibition of the eastward expansion of NATO to Ukraine and other countries, and a ban on US and NATO intermediate-range missile in countries within striking distance of Russia,” the CPP said.

Russia’s response

Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin earlier this week signed declarations recognizing the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic in the Donbass region west of Ukraine as independent.

Russia has repeatedly accused the Ukrainian government of political persecution of Russian-speaking residents in the region who expressed desire for independence from Kiev.

Russia has also conducted military exercises with Belarus the NATO allege is in preparation for the “imminent invasion” of Ukraine.

On Tuesday, February 22, Western media reported that Putin has sent hundreds of tanks into the Donbass Region.

Russia said its new troop disposition are in preparations for “peace-keeping missions.”

The US and the United Kingdom countered the development by announcing its planned sanctions against several Russian banks and businessmen.

The CPP however said that should war break out in the region, the US military industrial complex and its Department of Defense stand to benefit the most.

The US government has allotted a record $768 billion 2022 budget for its defense department, the group said.

“After withdrawing from Afghanistan, the US imperialists are bent on inciting another long-drawn armed conflict onto which it can pour its surplus arms and induce production of more weapons,” it added.

PISTON members demand oil price mechanisms in the face of unrelenting price hikes since the start of the year. (Photo by Joseph Cuevas/Kodao)

How the tension affects the Philippines

The tension in Ukraine has deeply affected the Philippines with weekly oil price increases for nine weeks running since the year started.

Gasoline prices now cost more than Php80 per liter in Puerto Princesa City and in other cities outside of the National Capital Region.

Transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON) said it is time to re-nationalize the Philippine oil industry to better protect the people during international crises that impact global oil prices.

In yet another protest rally in Quezon City, jeepney drivers said steep oil prices prevent them plying their routes that worsen the country’s transportation woes under the global coronavirus pandemic.

Food traders, such as canned sardine manufacturers, have given public notice of their plan to increase prices due to the weekly oil price hikes.

PISTON also demanded the removal of the oil excise tax and the imposition of price control mechanisms to halt oil price hikes.

The removal of the excise tax on oil with make gasoline and diesel prices cheaper by at least six pesos per liter, the group said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)