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BAYAN leads rallies vs. foreign military buildup in PH, trilateral summit in DC

Anti-imperialist group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) led a protest rally at the Chinese consulate on Tuesday, demanding foreign troops within the Philippine territory to stop militarizing the West Philippine Sea.

The group again denounced China’s incursions into Philippine maritime territories as well as repeated harassment of Filipino fisherfolk and ships in what has become an annual rally held every Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor).

“China’s bully behavior and continued aggression against its neighbors is the reason for its increasing isolation. It claims to maintain friendly relations but its provocative actions betray its real intent of dominating the whole of South China Sea even if it contravenes international rules and undermines the territorial integrity of its neighboring countries,” BAYAN said.

Day of Valor symbolizes the commitment of Filipinos to resist foreign aggressors, marking the day when the Philippines fell in the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army in 1942.

BAYAN pointed out that China also endured suffering during the Second World War, adding that its arrogance against the Philippines is a “shameful betrayal of how it fought foreign invaders in the past.”

“We call on China to move out of the West Philippine Sea, dismantle its illegal structures, recognize the 2016 arbitral ruling, and to stop harassing Filipino fisherfolk and Philippine supply missions,” it said.

BAYAN said it continues to call for the demilitarization of the West Philippine Sea, saying Philippine resistance against Chinese aggression should not lead to foreign military buildup and the “recolonization” of the Philippines through the installation of American military facilities across the country.

It also condemned the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government for turning the West Philippine Sea into a staging ground for foreign troops led by the US.

“Marcos Jr. is needlessly dragging the country into an escalation of conflict that will inflict more suffering among our people. We should not be a cannon fodder in the inter-imperialist rivalry and war between China and the US,” BAYAN said.

Police prevent anti-imperialist activists from conducting a protest rally in Manila. (Photo by N. Bacarra/Kodao)

Trilateral Summit to polarize region further

On Thursday, April 11, BAYAN also led a rally at he US Embassy in Manila, condemning the US-Japan-Philippines trilateral summit to be held at the White House.

In a statement, BAYAN also said the summit in Washington DC today is pushing existing tensions to a critical level.

BAYAN accused the summit as an escalation of the “US-led imperialist economic and military warfare” that will devastate the lives of working peoples in the region and squander the people’s money away from much needed services and welfare.

Caricature images of Biden, Kishida and Marcos Jr. at an anti-imperialist rally in Manila. (Photo by N. Bacarra/Kodao)

President Marcos is attending the summit, announced as the strengthening of security ties though joint military exercises among the three nations.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is representing Japan while US President Joe Biden serves as host.

“What is obfuscated in Washington’s war propaganda is the fact that these military exercises are happening only in the Philippines with the US-Marcos regime’s increased subservience to the US through additional Enhanced Defense Cooperation (EDCA) sites or bases, and the Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) between Japan and the Philippines, similar to the 25-year long RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA),” BAYAN explained.

The group also recalled that both the US and Japan invaded the Philippines last century.

“We call on peace advocates and anti-imperialist formations in these three countries to play a lead role in arousing, organizing and mobilizing against US-led militarism, interventionism and aggression by mounting protest actions that expose and oppose the April 11 Trilateral Summit to be held in the White House,” BAYAN said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

UNITED NATIONS: Rights violations widespread, persistent under Duterte gov’t

A day after Congress passed a new version of the Philippine anti-terrorism measure, the United Nations (UN) released a scathing report detailing widespread human rights violations and persistent impunity under the Rodrigo Duterte government.

In a 26-page report Thursday, June 4, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the government’s heavy-handed focus on countering national security threats and illegal drugs has resulted in serious human rights violations, including killings and arbitrary detentions, as well as the vilification of dissent.

Persistent impunity and formidable barriers to accessing justice need to be urgently addressed, the report said, also raising alarms over possible human rights violations by the prospective Human Security Act of 2020 that has been generating massive opposition among civil society groups since its passage by the House of Representatives Wednesday, June 3.

The report noted that many of the documented human rights concerns are long-standing but have become more acute in recent years.

“This has been manifested particularly starkly in the widespread and systematic killing of thousands of alleged drug suspects. Numerous human rights defenders have also been killed over the past five years,” the UN said.

The report said that the human rights violations brought about by the government’s focus on security threats are also reinforced by harmful rhetoric from high level officials.

The report also noted that the anti-drug killings range from “at least 8,663” to possibly triple the number.

The UN Human Rights Office also documented the work-related killing of at least 248 human rights defenders, legal professionals, journalists and trade unionists between 2015 and 2019.

There has been near impunity for these killings, with only one conviction for the killing of a drug suspect in a police operation since mid-2016, the report stated.

In gathering the report, the UN said it interviewed witnesses, family members, journalists and lawyers who expressed fears over their safety and a sense of powerlessness in the search for justice, resulting in a situation where “the practical obstacles to accessing justice within the country are almost insurmountable.”

Killings encouraged by highest officials

The UN Human Rights Office said it examined key policy documents relating to the campaign against illegal drugs and found a troubling lack of due process protections, and the use of language calling for “negation” and “neutralization” of drug suspects.

“Such ill-defined and ominous language, coupled with repeated verbal encouragement by the highest level of State officials to use lethal force, may have emboldened police to treat the circular as permission to kill,” the report stated.

“Such ill-defined and ominous language, coupled with repeated verbal encouragement by the highest level of State officials to use lethal force, may have emboldened police to treat the circular as permission to kill,” the report stated. (Malacañan photo)

Police raids on private households were routinely carried out without warrants, and post-operational spot reports examined by the Office indicated that evidence may have been falsified.

“Police repeatedly recovered guns bearing the same serial numbers from different victims in different locations,” suggesting some victims were unarmed at the time of their killing, the report revealed.

It added that human rights defenders have also been subject to verbal and physical attacks, threats and legal harassment in a manner that “increasingly institutionalized and normalized in ways that will be very difficult to reverse.”

Red-tagging as weapon

The report also identified “red-tagging” – labelling individuals or groups (including human rights defenders and NGOs) as communists or terrorists – as posing a serious threat to civil society and freedom of expression, noting that, in some cases, those who have been red-tagged were subsequently killed.

“Human rights advocacy is routinely equated with insurgency and the focus diverted to discrediting the messengers rather than examining the substance of the message,” the report said.

“This has muddied the space for debate, disagreement and for challenging State institutions and policies,” it added.

In the report, the UN Human Rights Office also detailed ongoing threats to freedom of expression, with legal charges and prosecutions being brought against journalists and senior politicians critical of the government, as well as actions to shut down media outlets.

Militarization

The report also examined human rights violations in Mindanao and Negros Island, which have seen increased militarization through Duterte’s imposition of emergency measures.

“The effect of this militarization – coupled with the long-standing presence of armed groups and the pressure by powerful landed elites and large business projects – is particularly dire on already embattled indigenous and farming communities,” the report said.

The UN said there are concerns that counter-insurgency policies have given rise to patterns resembling “those that characterize the anti-illegal drugs campaign, notably a presumption of guilt and lack of due process or effective oversight – this time against those suspected of supporting the Communist Party of the Philippines and its New People’s Army (CPP and NPA).”

The report also said it received unverified complaints against NPA killings, abductions, recruitment of children and extortion by the New People’s Army (NPA), a charge repeatedly denied by the Communist guerrillas.

A meeting room inside the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland (UN photo)

On to the UN Human Rights Council

The UN said there is a failure of domestic mechanisms to ensure accountability for the violations thus far, hence the need for independent, impartial, credible investigations into all allegations of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

The Duterte government refused requests by the UNHCHR to conduct in-country investigations since the UN Human Rights Council passed the Iceland-sponsored resolution in July 2019 asking for an investigation on the killings connected with Duterte government’s anti-illegal drug campaign.

The UNHCHR said its report is based on 893 written submissions, substantial input from the Government of the Philippines, analysis of legislation, police reports, court documents, videos, photos and other open source material, as well as interviews with victims and witnesses.

The report is due to be discussed at the next UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva.

‘A damming rebuff’

The Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (EcuVoice) welcomed the UN Human Rights Office report, saying it highlights the practice of vilification, criminalization and elimination of free expression, democratic dissent and the continuing vicious attacks against civilians.

Ecuvoice said the facts and reality are undeniable and the report has practically rebuffed the Duterte administration of its false narrative and pretensions about human rights.

Ecuvoice sent a delegation to Geneva last February and March to participated in the UN HRC’s 43rd general session.

“It is a damning indictment of its non-compliance with principles, standards, instruments and conventions on human rights. The government must shape up and should seriously rethink its draconian approaches like institutionalizing opportunities for even more widespread violations through dubious “anti-terror” legislation, national security policies and those related to its bloody anti-narcotics campaign, the group said.

“We look forward to further concrete action and specific recommendations and resolutions when the report is taken up by the UNHR Council,” Ecuvoice said.

“We also hope this report is also taken into account and consideration by the International Criminal Court as well as the UN Human Rights Committee with its upcoming review on the Philippines,” it added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

(Disclosure: The reporter, himself a victim of vilification and harassment, was part of the Ecuvoice delegation to the UN HRC’s 43rd General Session last February-March session in Geneva, Switzerland.)

‘Stop the killings!’

“Hinding-hindi malulutas ng militarisasyon at pagpaslang sa mamamayan ang sigalot ngayon na nangyayari sa kanayunan. Stop the killings! Defend Negros! Resume peace talks!”—Prof. Judy Taguiwalo, University of the Philippines-Diliman

Pagpapasara sa 55 Lumad Schools, binatikos

Sumugod sa opisina ng Department of Education (DepEd) Central Office sa Pasig City noong Hulyo 17 ang mga progresibong grupo para batikusin ang desisyon ng ahensiya sa ginawa nitong suspensyon sa 55 kampus ng Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Schools sa Southern Mindanao.

Ayon sa Save Our Schools (SOS) Network, malinaw na hindi suspensyon ang layunin ng DepEd kundi tuluyang pagpapasara sa mga nasabing eskwelahan.

Mababaw umano ang basehan ni DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones na suspensyon at batay lamang sa salaysay ni National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

Dagdag pa ng SOS Network, ginagawang lehitimo lamang ng DepEd ang walang humpay na pag-atake ng AFP sa mga eskwelahan ng Lumad.

Marami na anilang paaralang Lumad ang pwersahang ipinasara ng militar sa mahigit dalawang taon ng martial law sa Mindanao. (Music: News Background Bidyo ni: Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

UNCHR reports high level of internal displacement in PH

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) tagged the Philippines as among the countries with high levels of internally displaced persons (IDPs) by the end of 2018.

In its Global Trends Forced Displacement report, the international agency said that the Philippines has as many as 212,600 victims of forced internal displacement “due to armed conflict, generalized violence and human rights violations.”

While not listed in the report as among the 10 countries with the highest number of IDPs, the Philippines have been included in the worst 11 to 20 countries since 1980.

The UNCHR defines IDPs as people or groups of people who have been forced to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights, or natural or man-made disasters, and who have not crossed an international border.

UNHCR’s 2018 report, however, only included IDPs who fled conflicts and those “suffering IDP-like situations.”

The agency said that an estimated 41.3 million people were internally displaced all over the world, according to estimates from its Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).

This is an increase on the 40.0 million reported in 2017.

“The small declines of the previous years were reversed and the internally displaced population in 2018 was the largest ever reported by IDMC,” the UNCHR said.

The agency maintains an office in the Philippines

Militarization and IDPs

Local human rights group Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights told Kodao that IDPs in the Philippines are victims of militarization.

“Their displacement from their homes and communities are due to military operations. Most of the victims are peasants, indigenous peoples, and Moro peoples,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

Palabay said Karapatan for its part has documented 449,284 victims of forced evacuations from July 2016 to March 2019.

‘Persons of concern’

The UN report also cited in its “persons of concern” category that about 80,000 Filipino Muslims went to live abroad.

“As in previous years, Filipino Muslims (80,000) who settled in Malaysia’s Sabah state were reported as ‘others of concern’ by Malaysia, the report said.

“Persons of concern” refers to individuals to whom UNHCR has extended its protection and assistance services based on humanitarian or other special grounds. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Indigenous peoples demand justice for Lumad chieftain Datu Kaylo

By MARYA SALAMAT
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Manobo tribal chieftain Datu Kaylo, a consistent participant in the indigenous people’s Lakbayan to Manila to air their calls for self-determination, was reportedly killed by elements of the 3rd IB of the AFP Eastern Mindanao Command during its military operations in Kitaotao, Bukidnon last April 7.

“He died due to the intensified militarization, bombing and strafing of the indigenous communities,” said Pasaka-SMR in a statement.

Datu Kaylo was in the area visiting the communities and delving into the current situation of his fellow Manobos who had been forced to evacuate from their communities in Talaingod, a village that has gained prominence for its people’s resistance against logging and mining in the Pantaron Range. As a lumad leader, Datu Kaylo was concerned about the plight of the Manobos who are scattered around various communities after Talaingod was hit by successive operations and bombings there and in Bukidnon, said the Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkanugon.

In previous Lakbayan, Kaylo helped to translate to Tagalog the statements of female Lumad warrior Bai Bibyaon Bigkay, a Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan Awardee. Kaylo himself was regarded as a fierce environmental defender. [He helped here: ‘We’re all challenged to defend the environment’ — Bibiaon Bigkay]


Datu Kaylo and Bai Bibiaon (Photo grabbed from PASAKA-SMR FB post Apr 11, 2019)

Kaylo was a Lumad leader of the Salugpongan community organization and a member of the National Council of Leaders of Katribu, the national alliance of indigenous peoples’ organizations. He was also the Deputy Secretary General of the PASAKA Confederation of Lumad in Southern Mindanao. PASAKA SMR is a Confederation of Lumad organizations of nine tribes whose name combines lumad words conveying unity and solidarity.

PASAKA expressed its alarm over the “intensifying war being waged by the military” against their communities. They said this war has worsened with Martial Law in Mindanao. “Many from the Lumad have been forced to evacuate, including the children whose schooling has been curtailed by non-stop attacks of the military,” PASAKA said.

“Our plight in Talaingod is comparable to ants being trampled upon and forced to scatter anywhere, because of Martial Law in Mindanao, where soldiers and the paramilitary Alamara have attacked us to no end,” said the Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkanugon in a statement.

Salugpongan mourns the death of Kaylo, who, they said, had sacrificed much since his youth for the defense of our ancestral land and the Lumad schools in Talaingod. “He could have contributed more for the Lumad.”

Amid calls for justice for the untimely death of Kaylo, PASAKA reiterated its condemnation of the Duterte government’s schemes that they said seek to drive them away from their homes so the government could push through with plunderous projects in the Pantaron Range. These projects include mining, plantations and dams. #

Seremonya ng Pagtatapos ng Lumad Bakwit School sa UP 2019

Sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon, isang Moving Up Ceremony ng Lumad Bakwit School ang ginanap sa University of the Philippines Integrated School Auditorium noong Marso 29, 2019.

Ang natatanging seremonya ay may temang “Lumad Bakwit: Patatagin ang Hanay, Mag-aral at Sumulong, Ipaglaban ang Lupa at Kinabukasan”. Umabot sa 70 estudyanteng Lumad ang pinarangalan kung saan 30 dito ay nagtapos ng junior high school.

Ipinakita nila na purisgido silang makatapos ng pag-aaral at ipaglaban ang kanilang karapatan, lalo na sa pagtatanggol ang kanilang lupang ninuno.

Pinasalamatan nila ang iba’t-ibang mga institusyon, simbahan, unibersidad at paaralan na tumulong sa kanila sa Metro Manila at karatig-probinsya na tumulong upang matagumpay nilang maitawid ang isang academic school year .

Sa kabila ito nang matinding atake sa kanilang paaralan kung saan 85 paaralang Lumad na may halos 3,000 mag-aaral, guro at mga magulang sa iba’t-ibang bahagi ng Mindanao ang pwersahang pinasara ng mga militar at paramilitar dahil sa walang tigil na militarisasyon.

Tumitindi din ang paglabag sa karapatang pantao katulad nang paghuli sa kanilang mga guro, pagpatay sa kanilang mga lider-katutubo at umiiral na Martial Law sa Mindanao. (Bidyo nila: Joseph Cuevas at Maricon Montajes)

Teacher Rose–kabataang guro ng mga Lumad

Isinalaysay ni Jeany Rose Hayahay, 21 taong gulang at isang fulltime volunteer teacher ng Salugpungan (Lumad school) sa Mindanao ang kanilang nararanasan sa kabila nang matinding atake sa kanilang paaralan ng mga militar.

Pursigido sila na ituloy ang pag-aaral at mabigyan ng maayos na edukasyon ang mga Lumad na tanging hangad ay magkaroon ng malaking papel sa lipunan at pahalagahan ang kanilang kultura.

Narito din ang kanyang panawagan sa kapwa guro at kababaihan sa pagdiriwang ng International Womens Month. (Bidyo ni: Maricon Montajes/ Kodao)

Category

Si Nanay Monet, ang koprahan, at militarisasyon sa kanayunan

Si Nanay Monet Pajalla, 52 taong gulang at isang magsasaka sa Quezon, ay katulad ng ibang kababaihan na hikahos sa buhay.

Bukod sa kawalan ng lupa, patuloy na bumabagsak ang kita nila sa pagbebenta ng kopra. Isa rin si Nanay Monet sa matagal nang nag-hihintay na makuha ang ipinagkakait na coco levy fund noong panahon pa ni Marcos.

Tumitindi ang panunupil at pandarahas sa kanilang lugar sa Quezon kabilang na ang pagpaslang sa isang lider kababaihan noong Marso 2018 at malaganap na militarisasyon.

Sa kabila nito, patuloy ang grupo nila na nag-oorganisa at nagpapalakas ng kanilang hanay. (Bidyo ni: Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

‘October Resistance’: Farmers protest human rights violations

Hundreds of farmers and activists commemorate Peasant Month with a series of activities they call ‘October Resistance,’ in obvious reference to the so-called Red October plot the military tried selling off as a plan oust President Rodrigo Duterte.

Led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), a rally was held from University of Santo Tomas to Mendiola last Friday to call for an end to poverty, hunger as well “state fascism” by the Duterte government.

Protest actions were also launched in Tuguegarao City, Tagbilaran City, Laguna, Quezon, Camarines Norte, Bukidnon, Davao City and Cagayan de Oro.

The farmers said they demand genuine land reform, free land distribution and the pull-out of military troops from communities.

They also want to end land-grabbing and land use conversion schemes as well as a stop to plantations all over the country.

KMP Chairperson Danilo Ramos said that the ‘Red October’ plot scare of the government aims to justify human rights violations and intensify crackdown against peasant activists and organizers.

The group decried the recent human rights violations perpetrated by state forces. Among these is the killing of Jaime Delos Santos, chairman of the fisherfolk PAMALAKAYA (affiliated member of KMP) in Guihulngan Negros Oriental last October 6, as well as the killing of Victor Villafranca, also member of PAMALAKAYA’s HABAGAT or Haligi ng Batanguenong Anakdagat in Lian Batangas, last October 13.

They also assailed the violent dispersal of their camp out at the Department of Agrarian Reform last Thursday. # (Report and video by Joseph Cuevas with Maricon Montajes)