On the 25th anniversary of the Philippine Senate rejection of the extension of the US-Philippine Military Bases Agreement, nationalist groups marched to the US Embassy in Manila Friday to protest what they say is the increasing American intervention in the Duterte regime.
The rally ended with the first-ever burning of a Duterte effigy by activists.
Hundreds of activists held a rally in front of the United Embassy in Manila on the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration as US President.
Calling Trump as racist and anti-immigrant, the activists demanded that US pull out its soldiers in the Philippines and respect migrant Filipinos in the US.
Philippine National Artist Bienvenido “Bien” Lumbera pays tribute to Fidel Castro as a great anti-imperialist and socialist leader at the offering of candles and flowers in Quezon City on the eve of Castro’s interment.
Rita Baua of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) led the ceremonies attended by progressive leaders from the working class, health and education sectors. Read more
Filipino activists signed a Book of Condolence as tribute to the late Cuban revolutionary and long-time president Fidel Castro in a special event at the University of the Philippines last December 1.
Louis Jalandoni of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), other peace consultants and progressive leaders led the special program, also participated in by Venezuelan Ambassador Capaya Rodriguez Gonzalez.
It was organized by the Philippines-Cuba Friendship Association (Amistad), the Philippines Chapter of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS-Phils), the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), the All U.P. Academic Employees Union and the Center for International Studies of the University of the Philippines.
Regarded as an exemplary socialist and revolutionary by the Philippine Left, Castro succumbed due to old age last week.
THE indigenous and Moro peoples will never be stopped in their struggle for self-determination, national minority groups said as they wind down their Pambansang Lakbayan ng mga Pambansang Minorya 2016 at a rally in Mendiola last October 21.
Two days after the brutal police dispersal in front of the United States Embassy in Manila, thousands of Lakbayan participants said they will go back to their communities and continue their fight for self-determination and other human rights.
“We will not be stopped by state violence and imperialism,” Josephine Pagalan, a Lumad Manobo said.
“We Lumad have developed our communities and founded our schools in the face of the worst kinds of discrimination. This is proof that the national minorities are more than capable of relying on themselves,” Pagalan said.
Pagalan added their our progressive initiatives are directly attacked by a “rotten, fascist social system.”
“But we continue to fight, because our struggle for self-determination is justified, she said.
Why they travelled to Manila
The national minorities addressed the many questions about their struggle and why they travelled to Metro Manila as part of the Lakbayan.
“Our struggle is for our right to self-determination, which is strongly tied to the anti-imperialist struggle of the Filipino masses. It is our right to freely determine our political wellbeing and freely pursue our socioeconomic development at our own pace,” Windel Bulingit, spokesperson for Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance, said.
“It is a struggle we can win only if the Philippine society achieves true progress, when the rule of US imperialism is brought to an end,” Bulingit said.
“All of us who took part in the Lakbayan also call for an independent foreign policy,” added Piya Macliing Malayao, spokesperson for Sandugo.
“The national minorities have a lot of experience with foreign powers and we can say that they, led by US imperialism, have brought nothing but harm, not just to us, but to all Filipinos,” Malayao said.
“Foreign intervention only brings mass landgrabbing and environmental destruction thanks to destructive mining and energy corporations and plantations. There are also US military bases that destroy our communities and violate our rights – and our own military is, unfortunately, taking a page from them. There have been too many massacres of our brethren by the US military via the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Malayao added.
“The violations against us do not appear enough in the mainstream media, nor in social media,” Bulingit added. “That is why we are here to bring our issues to the people in the city, to the seat of power.”
The protesters also condemned the excessively violent dispersal of their protests in front of Camp Aguinaldo and the US embassy.
The national minorities held a protest in front of Camp Aguinaldo last October 18, where their peaceful condemnation of the military presence in their communities was met with dispersal with water cannons.
Their protest in front of the US embassy last October 19 was met with worse violence.
As the rally was ending, Col. Marcelino Pedrozo of the Manila Police District arrived and ordered the arrest and dispersal of the rally to save face with the embassy..
The PNP proceeded to violently push the protesters back while a police mobile unit driven by PO3 Franklin Kho ran over rallyists, including Malayao.
They proceeded to violently harrass and pursue protesters, medics, mediamen and bystanders filming the events.
At least 50 were injured while 29 were arrested.
“What the US embassy and their puppets, the PNP, did to us was not right. That is not the work of policemen. That was the work of terrorists. Do they think that our status as national minorities makes such violence ok?” Bulingit said. ”
“The Philippines is for Filipinos. The PNP must serve the Philippines and not foreign powers,” Bulingit added.
Einstein Recedes, secretary-general of Anakbayan, defended the protesters.
“There are those who falsely believe that we have been paid,” he said. “That is nothing but vicious imperialist propaganda spread by the PNP. None of us were paid to protest and hold rallies because our principles do not have a price.” # (Abril Layad B. Ayroso)
By Abril Layad B. Ayroso / Photos by Reggie Mamangun
AT LEAST 50 were injured when a Manila Police District vehicle rammed indigenous peoples protesters in a violent dispersal at the United States Embassy in Manila this morning.
After being surrounded by protesters, a police vehicle with license plate SAA 5553 and National Capital Region Police Office markings backed up at high speed, apparently intent on hitting the victims.
After several meters, the vehicle accelerated forward and ran over protesters before backing up again, scattering activists trying to escape its rampage.
According to rights group Karapatan, 31 were also arrested, including two Lumad minors, after Superintendent Marcelino DL Pedrozo of the MPD ordered the dispersal.
Organizers of the Pambansang Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya 2016 said Pedrozo showed up at the rally already enraged and immediately ordered the arrest of the protesters.
Under Pedrozo’s orders, the police began pushing back the protesters that immediately became violent as the police fired tear gas at the retreating activists.
Some protesters who tried escaping through and around Plaza Salamanca across the embassy were violently apprehended, with the police even chasing and clubbing the fleeing protesters’ vehicles.
The violent dispersal is the second in two days after the group was also violently blasted with water cannons at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City yesterday.
The violent dispersal immediately received condemnations from various human rights and indigenous peoples groups.
“We condemn the Manila Police District, and call on President Rodrigo Duterte himself to address this enraging incident, which has even surpassed the water cannon incident yesterday at Camp Aguinaldo,” Jerome Succor Aba, Suara Bangsamoro national spokesperson said.
“Is this how the government treats its national minorities? Is this the answer to our plea to stand up for national sovereignty and protect the interests of national minorities from the claws of Washington?” Aba asked.
Dulping Ogan, secretary-general of Kalumaran, blamed the US for the violent dispersal.
“The US can even order our police to attack our own people just to protect its embassy. This is a clear display of power, and highlights the urgency of our call to pull out US forces from the Philippines, especially in our ancestral lands,” Ogan said.
“Here in Manila, our calls are met with water cannons, and now teargas and brute force. In our ancestral communities, the attacks are far worse: we all know of the repeated cases of murders against our kin. Everywhere we turn, we Lumads and other national minorities are brutalized. Yet we will remain defiant. No amount of police brutality can dent the indefatigable and united spirit of the national minorities,” Ogan said.
The protesters proceeded to the Manila Police District headquarters to demand for the release of the arrested activists and condemn the police for the violent dispersal.
They are also demanding accountability from Pedrozo for using excessive force during the dispersal.
The national minorities travelled to Metro Manila to assert their rights to ancestral domain and self-determination as well as to demand the removal of US military and corporate presence from indigenous lands.
The struggle of the national minorities
During their rally, leaders of national minority groups spoke of abuses by the military who they accuse of acting as mercenaries of the US government and foreign corporations.
They said the militarization to their communities goes along with the destruction of the environment and their ancestral domains.
“Every single time the Americans show up, we can’t sleep, hunt or even eat in peace when they are so close to our communities,” Sonny Serrano of the Central Luzon Aeta Association said.
“The US Embassy and the military allow US soldiers to get away with crimes against indigenous people. Why must we tolerate such a system that puts Americans over indigenous peoples?” Serrano added.
Aba, for his part, added that the US not only promotes the destruction of the environment but also the discrimination on national minorities.
The Moro people of Mindanao fought the Americans to defend their ancestral domains that led to the Bud Dajo and Bud Bagsak massacres where hundreds were massacred by US troops.
“They keep calling us Muslims terrorists, but who is the real terrorist here? Who has committed so many crimes against the people of the Philippines?” Aba added.
The US military is currently present in Mindanao, who President Duterte said must leave as soon as possible. # (With reports by Raymund B. Villanueva and Divine C. Miranda)
PROGRESSIVE groups led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) marched to the US Embassy last September 16 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Philippine Senate’s rejection of the extension of the Philippine-United States of America Military Bases Agreement and to support “President Rodrigo Duterte’s independent foreign policy.”
The protest celebrated the 1991 rejection by 12 senators of the agreement despite great pressure exerted by then President Corazon Aquino to the Senate to extend the treaty.
The activists also condemned the current Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement which they say allow American troops to treat the Philippine as their “playground.”
Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr said the VFA and EDCA signed by the US and subsequent Philippine administrations allow offending US troops to escape punishment for their criminal activities in the Philippines.
The Manila District of the Philippine National Police tried to prevent the protesters from reaching Roxas Boulevard but were outwitted when the march split in two and rushed past the hastily assembled police line.
‘No longer a colony’
Duterte had previously emphasized his government’s pursuit of an independent foreign policy from the US.
He recently called out US President Barack Obama on the latter’s reported intention to bring up the issue of human rights violations at their planned meeting in Laos last week.
Duterte also called on US troops to leave Mindanao.
He said he will not allow the US to further meddle into the country’s political and military affairs as it has yet to acknowledge and apologize for atrocities in Mindanao.
Duterte mentioned the massacres of Moros at Bud Dajo and Bud Bagsak during the US occupation of the Philippines which killed thousands of civilians.
Bayan challenged Duterte to take the matter of foreign policy beyond words.
“We support Duterte’s call for the withdrawal of US troops from Mindanao. However, he must go further if he truly wants to pursue an independent foreign policy,” Reyes said.
The group issued a list of demands for a Philippine independent foreign policy, namely:
- Overturn laws and agreements allowing US troops to stay in the Philippines, specifically the EDCA signed by Benigno Aquino III;
- End joint military exercises with the US;
- Stop the country’s dependence on second-hand but expensive military equipment from the US;
- Probe US’s role in the botched Mamasapano incident in 2015 that resulted in the death of 44 Filipino Special Action Force members;
- Assert Philippine sovereignty against any US intervention; and
- Denouncing American-led wars of intervention. # (Report by AL Ayroso / Featured image by Divine C. Miranda)
PROGRESSIVE groups led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) took to the streets of Manila last July 27 to protest United States Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to the Philippines.
Kerry is in the Philippines to dialogue with president Rodrigo Duterte on Philippine international relations, specifically on its ongoing dispute with China over the South China Sea.
The activists, however, said that Kerry’s visit is an attempt to make Duterte dependent on the US as his predecessors. Read more
PROGRESSIVE organizations held a rally in front of the United States Embassy in Manila last July 26 to protest the final Supreme Court ruling declaring the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the US and the Philippines legal.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan’s Renato Reyes said that EDCA is an unjust agreement that is only advantageous to the US. Read more